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Haranomachi Airfield Monument
Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture

Beginning in 1940, Haranomachi Airfield in Fukushima Prefecture served as a branch school for Kumagaya Army Flight School (Saitama Prefecture). Haranomachi Airfield then was used as a branch school in succession for the following Army flight schools: Akeno (Mie Prefecture), Mito (Ibaraki Prefecture), and Hokota (Ibaraki Prefecture).

Haranomachi Airfield Monument, located on a hill in Jingasaki Park Cemetery, honors men from this former Army airfield and also men from the Haranomachi area who died in the Pacific War. The inscription in front of the bronze statue of a pilot waving mentions special attack squadrons (tokkotai in Japanese) [1] from the base. The following is a translation of this inscription:

The Army's Haranomachi Airfield was once here at this location. Many brave men who trained here starting in 1940 bravely fought in various places in order to confront our national crisis. Before long they faced a worsening war situation, and they went forth in special attack squadrons, becoming widely known for their bravery and striking terror into the enemy's heart. These heroes, unfortunately frustrated in their ambitions, did not return again. In addition, the airfield suffered air attacks, and eventually its appearance completely changed. Now after 26 years have passed, supporters looking back on the past without knowing these heroes' places of grief planned together and erected this monument. Along with consoling the brave spirits of the war dead, as a commemoration of the cooperation and harmony once experienced between the military and civilians, we humbly pray for the eternal glory of our homeland.

August 15, 1971
Seven hundred supporters nationwide

The model for the bronze pilot statue is a photo of First Lieutenant Hiroshi Matsui, a flight instructor from Haranomachi Airfield, as he led the Tesshin (Iron Will) Special Attack Squadron in single file past a group of persons sending them off from Hokota Air Base on November 8, 1944. This special attack squadron had been formed two days earlier at Haranomachi Airfield. [2]

Four bronze tablets stand a short distance left of the pilot statue. The first tablet (from right to left) has engraved the names of 71 men from Haranomachi Airfield who died as special attack corps members. These men belonged to 14 squadrons in total that fought in the Philippines (6 squadrons), the Battle of Okinawa, (7 squadrons), and the Japanese mainland (1 squadron) [3]. The information at the monument site does not provide details on how these different special attack squadron members were related to Haranomachi Airfield, but most of the special attack squadrons listed probably were formed at Haranomachi. A few of the individuals listed may have only received training at Haranomachi Airfield.

The second to fourth bronze tablets (from right to left) to the left of the pilot statue contain listings of other men from Haranomachi Airfield who died during the war:

  • second tablet - 65th Sentai (Air Group) during Battle of Okinawa, maintenance crew members and other workers associated with base, and casualties during aerial bombing of Haranomachi
  • third tablet - associated with Akeno Branch School
  • fourth tablet - associated with Hokota Branch School

The two bronze tablets to the right of the pilot statue list individuals from the Haranomachi area who died in the Pacific War.

Each fall a memorial service is held at the monument. At the 2002 memorial service, a small men's choir sang the following song. The lyrics were written by First Lieutenant Eiju Kinoshita, a graduate of the 57th Class of the Army Air Corps Academy. He trained at Haranomachi Airfield, and afterward he transferred to a flight training squadron in Manchuria, where he died of sickness.

Haranomachi Special Attack Corps Song [4]

Farewell, take care
My parting forever will be tomorrow
Leaving behind dear Haranomachi
My dream, an explosion
Ah, I disappear

If we two cannot see each other again
The photo in my heart will be my charm
Glorious special attack squadron
Together with you
Ah, body-crashing

If I sink an enemy ship
Tell others I died smiling
When the formal commendation arrives
Come to meet me
Ah, Kudan

If you hear I died in battle
Do not you weep over this
When the white box arrives
Hold it in your arms
Ah, memories

The third stanza's mention of "Kudan" refers to the name of the hill in Tokyo where Yasukuni Jinja is located. Yasukuni is Japan's national Shinto shrine to honor the spirits of war dead, so many men in the military referred to this as the place where the living could come to meet them after their death. The fourth stanza refers to a "white box," in which the remains of dead soldiers were delivered to their families.

Haranomachi Airfield Monument is located in Minamisoma City, which formed on January 1, 2006, when three former cities, including Haramachi City, merged. Haramachi City existed from 1954 to 2006. Before 1954, it was called Haranomachi, but now only the main railroad station in the area has this name.

Notes

1. The Army's special attack squadrons are generally referred to outside of Japan as Kamikaze squadrons. However, the name "Kamikaze" has not been used on this web page since only the Japanese Navy, not the Army, used the name of Kamikaze for its special attack squadrons.

2. The dates in this paragraph come from the following web page:

Mine, Kazuo. 2004. Tesshin-tai (Dai-go Hakkou-tai) (Tesshin Squadron (Fifth Hakkou Squadron)). <http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~un3k-mn/riku-tessin.htm> (January 13, 2007).

3. As listed on the first tablet (closest to left side of pilot statue), the special attack squadrons with the most individuals who died in battle are the following ones: Kinnou (Loyalty to Emperor) Squadron (13 men led by First Lieutenant Takumi Yamamoto), Tesshin (Iron Will) Squadron (12 men led by First Lieutenant Hiroshi Matsui), 45th Shinbu Squadron (11 men led by First Lieutenant Hajime Fujii), Koukon (Emperor's Spirit) Squadron (9 men led by First Lieutenant Kyoichi Miura), 64th Shinbu Squadron (9 men led by First Lieutenant Kenichi Shibuya), and 63rd Shinbu Squadron (6 men led by Warrant Officer Shinsaku Nanba).

4. This song in Japanese and the information in the preceding paragraph come from the following web page:

Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association. 2002. Haranomachi Hikoujou Yukari no Ireisai (Haranomachi Airfield Memorial Service). <http://www.tokkotai.or.jp/kikanshi/haranomati.htm> (January 13, 2007).