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Gero Kaiten Monument
Gero City, Gifu Prefecture

Hiroshi Kuroki, who along with Sekio Nishina originated the idea of the kaiten weapon, grew up in the onsen (hot springs) resort town of Gero. On September 6, 1944, Kuroki went out with Takashi Higuchi for a kaiten training run in bad weather, but their kaiten got stuck in the bottom of Tokuyama Bay near the base at Otsushima. They died several hours later when oxygen ran out. Kuroki's grave is located at Onsen Temple in his hometown of Gero.

In 1964, a monument to honor Kuroki was erected on the top of Mt. Shinki in Gero. This monument with Kuroki's writing of "kaiten" on front, along with two other monuments built later, are located at Nankosha, a small jinja (shrine) that honors Kusunoki Masashige, a famous samurai warrior who defended the emperor in battle in 1333 and committed suicide by harakiri with his followers to escape the humiliation of capture. Kusunoki served as an inspiration for the kaiten pilots and other members of Japan's special attack corps who would carry out suicide attacks near the end of WWII in the face of long odds against them.

The back of the original kaiten monument built in 1964 (top left monument in photo) has the following inscription:

The heroic deeds of the kaiten amazed the world, and people were impressed by the pilots' devotion. Here where everyone profoundly respects the kaiten's originator, Lieutenant Commander Hiroshi Kuroki [1], we honor him by erecting this monument in his hometown and by engraving in stone the two characters of "kai ten" from his brush. Now, singing praises, we proclaim his resolution and extol his meritorious deeds, and humbly try to recognize meaning in his actions.

Even with the country in a bleak situation, he was anxious about what he must do. He showed great zeal to sacrifice himself for the sake of his country, but his kaiten torpedo never completed its mission. Perhaps only himself with a torpedo would have passed under the waves and pulverized a ship of the haughty enemy. In our true hearts, we can see his figure that would have protected the country of his father and mother by breaking and scattering an enemy ship into little pieces in a huge thunderous explosion.

Spring 1964

Although most Japanese monuments built to honor the war dead from special attacks emphasize future peace, this one stands in stark contrast with an apparent desire that Kuroki could have carried out his mission rather than dying in a training accident.

In 1980, the Kaiten Association erected a monument to remember the 144 Kaiten Special Attack Corps members who died either in battle or training. The monument has the 144 names engraved on front, with Hiroshi Kuroki's name listed first as he was the first Kaiten Corps member to die. The back of the monument has the following inscription:

Fighting in the Greater East Asia War became fierce. Kaiten Special Attack Corps members personally sacrificed their own young lives with the earnest desire that Japan, which was on the brink of its survival, would maintain its national polity and prosper again.

On August 1, 1944, Lieutenant Commanders Kuroki and Nishina [2] were granted their petition for the original idea of the kaiten. Looking up to the great Kusunoki Masashige, over one thousand young men gathered together under the kikusui (floating chrysanthemum) banner. Out of these, 127 died during taiatari (body-crashing) attacks, and 17 died on duty while training. Eight submarines carrying kaiten also were sacrificed.

As we remember the bravery and pure hearts of the loyal samurai of the Kaiten Corps who honorably gave their lives, here we engrave these heroes' names. We want to pass down to posterity these illustrious deeds.

May 1980
Kaiten Association

In front of the monument listing the 144 names of Kaiten Corps member who died, the Tokai Kaiten Association put up a stone tablet in March 1987 that shows a kaiten model along with key data about this hisshi hissatsu (sure-death sure-kill) weapon.


Nankosha Jinja with Kaiten Monument in back

Notes

1, 2. The rank of Lieutenant Commander indicated on the monument is the final rank of Hiroshi Kuroki and Sekio Nishina after the promotion in ranks after their deaths. Kuroki was promoted one rank from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander after his death in a training accident, and Nishina was promoted two ranks from Lieutenant Junior Grade to Lieutenant Commander after his death in a kaiten special attack on November 20, 1944.