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Kanoya Special Attack Corps War Dead Memorial Tower
Kanoya City, Kagoshima Prefecture

The Fifth Air Fleet used Kanoya Air Base as its headquarters during the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. Kanoya also served as the main sortie base for kamikaze attacks on Allied ships off Okinawa, and 908 members of kamikaze units based at Kanoya lost their lives [1].

In 1958, Kanoya City and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Kanoya Base built the Special Attack Corps War Dead Memorial Tower to honor the men who died in suicide attacks after taking off from Kanoya. Funds used to build this tower in Kotsuka Hill Park came not only from these two groups but also from local residents and people throughout Japan. A white dove sits on top of the tower, and a bronze plaque to the right side of the tower has inscribed the names and squadrons of the men who died in kamikaze attacks.

The kamikaze squadrons that sortied from Kanoya Air Base used a variety of planes, including Zero fighter, Ginga bomber, Shiragiku trainer, and Type 1 Attack Bomber (Betty) that carried an ohka (piloted rocket-powered glider). Members of kamikaze special attack squadrons generally moved from other bases in Japan to Kanoya Air Base to wait for orders on the specific date to make attacks. Many men waited several days or weeks since rainy weather and lack of planes often delayed sortie dates.

A stone plaque to the right of the tower has the following inscription:

Today as a sure cornerstone for peace we again remember our friends who took off to the seas swirling with the Kuroshio Current and did not return. We pray for rest of the souls of over one thousand Special Attack Corps members [2] who took off from Kanoya Air Base during the war and died as they crashed.

March 20, 1958
Kanoya City

A sign before the steps up to the tower gives a history of Kanoya Naval Air Base and the erection of the tower.

Notes

1. Although a sign and a bronze plaque at the monument say that 908 men died in special attacks, other sources indicate different numbers. An exhibit at the Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum indicates 829 men died in kamikaze attacks from Kanoya Air Base. Tokkotai Senbotsusha (1990, 318) states 755 men died in 447 planes that sortied from Kanoya. Sachio Matsunaga, Director of Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum, said that part of the difference can be partly explained by 12 Army kamikaze pilots who departed from Kanoya when the Navy and Army had joint operations. The museum's number of 829 deaths includes only Navy men, whereas the memorial tower's number of 908 also includes Army airmen who died in kamikaze attacks from Kanoya. He did not know other specific reasons for the discrepancy between the two numbers, but sometimes official military records did not indicate the correct air base for kamikaze attack sorties.

2. Based on a comparison with other sources mentioned in Note 1, the number of over one thousand deaths of Special Attack Corps members who sortied from Kanoya is overstated. The number may have been the best estimate at the time the monument plaque was put up in 1958, but most likely subsequent research came up with a total number significantly less than one thousand.

Source Cited

Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai (Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kougekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tokyo: Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai.