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 special (suicide) attacks on Allied ships off Okinawa, and 908 members
of Special Attack Corps units based at Kanoya lost their lives .
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 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 special attacks.
The Kamikaze Corps squadrons that made sorties 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 ōka (piloted rocket-powered
glider). Members of Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 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  who took off from Kanoya Air Base
during the war and died as they crashed.
March 20, 1958
A sign before the steps up to the tower gives the following history of Kanoya
Naval Air Base and the erection of the tower:
History of Erection of Special Attack Corps War Dead Memorial Tower
In the history of warfare, there has not been a similar example of the
level of fierceness that took place during the Battle of Okinawa in World
War II. In time finally the war situation became unfavorable to our
military, and this led to undertaking a secret operation to restore the
country's declining fortunes. Namely, it was the Special Attack Corps with
the intention to destroy totally the enemy's sea and air power. The time was
the spring of 1945.
The departure location for these heroic special attacks was Kanoya. The
fighting for 82 days was extremely fierce. Day by day young men took off to
Okinawa where the Kuroshio Current moves around it.
Tragically, young men bravely offered their precious lives in their
springtime. We cannot help but remember such noble sacrifices in the shadow
of defeat in the war.
As a place with the closest connection to them and also as the mainland's
southernmost Naval base, many Special Attack Corps members (908 men) took
off and did not return again to their final place at Kanoya, and we needed
to erect a memorial tower to honor these men's spirits. In October 1957, the
"Committee to Promote Kanoya Air Base Special Attack Corps War Dead Memorial
Tower" was formed with the Kanoya City Mayor as Chairman. When the entire
country was asked for cooperation, many funds were donated not only from
Kanoya City but also widely from all quarters.
Based on these donations, on Kotsuka Hill with a view overlooking the air
base, we erected on March 20, 1958, this tower to the war dead to remember
forever their spirits as a cornerstone of peace.
The following last letters and diary entries were written by Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps members who took off from Kanoya Air Base and died in special attacks:
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 Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum indicates 829 men died in kamikaze attacks from
Kanoya Air Base. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 318) states 755 men died in 447
planes that made sorties 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 special
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 made sorties 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.
Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.