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Ibusuki Naval Air Base Remembrance Monument
Ibusuki City, Kagoshima Prefecture

Due to lack of regular bombers and fighters, the Japanese Navy resorted to even seaplanes for kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Okinawa from April to June 1945. These seaplanes sortied from the base in Ibusuki in the far south of the island of Kyushu.

War survivors and local citizens provided funds to build a monument in 1971 to honor the young men who died from Ibusuki Naval Air Base. The monument has the following inscription (translated to English):

Can you believe it? This bright, calm Tara Beach was once the southernmost air base in mainland Japan. Young men full of emotion in obsolete seaplanes loaded with bomb and fuel for one way took off day after day from this sea with nobody to see them off in order to confront the American fleet off the Ryukyu Islands. Eventually the number of special attack corps members who did not return reached 82, and over 100 other men at the base died in enemy attacks [1]. We devote this monument in prayer for repose of their souls.

The word "seaplanes" in the above inscription is literally "seaplanes wearing geta (wooden clogs)," a poetic reference to the plane's floats. The phrase "with nobody to see them off" refers to the base's extreme secrecy, so people other than base personnel did not see the kamikaze pilots off on their final mission.

Three types of Navy seaplanes were used in kamikaze sorties from Ibusuki: Kawanishi E7K Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane (24 planes, 51 men), Aichi E13A Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane (4 planes, 11 men), and Mitsubishi F1M Type 0 Observation Seaplane (16 planes, 25 men) [2]. The first two types normally had a crew of three men, but most of these planes flew with only two men on their kamikaze missions. The last type had a usual crew of two, but several of these planes flew with a single pilot.

Three airmen on
right side of monument 

 

The Ibusuki Naval Air Base Remembrance Monument, located beneath the towering rocky cliffs of Uomidake, faces Nishikie Bay. The monument stands on a small hill directly above a concrete tunnel used as an air-raid shelter during the war.

Among special attack force monuments located throughout Japan, this monument not only has one of the most beautiful locations but also excels in the presentation of historical information. At the beginning of the path leading from the main road to the monument, a map shows a layout of the air base during the war. A glass-covered display board near the monument provides photos and explanations of six types of seaplanes used at Ibusuki Naval Air Base. The inside of an outdoor storage cabinet to the right of the monument contains several historical photos of the base and a free 12-page color brochure explaining the history of the air base and the monument site.

An annual memorial service is held on May 27 to remember the young men of Ibusuki Naval Air Base who died in World War II.

Notes

1. Many of these deaths occurred when twelve American B-29s bombed Ibusuki Naval Air Base on May 5, 1945.

2. This information comes from a table on the first page of a brochure available at the monument. However, the table's total of 82 men who died in special attacks is inconsistent with the table's line items, which indicate a total of 87 men.

Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum has an exhibit that indicates 75 men who sortied from Ibusuki died in special attacks.

Sources

The following sources were used for this web page:

Brochure available at monument site.

Francillon, Ren J. 1979. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.