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Kokubu No. 2 Air Base Exhibit
in Community Center

 
Kokubu No. 2 Air Base Special Attack Corps Monument (Uwatoko Park)
Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture

In 1942, the Japanese Navy built an air base in Kokubu Town, located in Kagoshima Prefecture, the southernmost prefecture of mainland Japan [1]. In 1943, construction started on a second airfield on a plateau in Hayato Town, next to Kokubu. This second airfield, which came to be known as Kokubu No. 2 Air Base, was pressed into service for kamikaze attacks in 1945 even though the base had not yet been completed. From March 18 to June 3, 171 planes took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base to make suicide attacks on American ships near Okinawa, and 217 pilots died in these attacks [2]. Mizobe Town (part of Kirishima City since 2005) erected a monument and maintains an exhibition room in its community center in remembrance of the pilots who gave their lives.

On April 6, 1979, Mizobe Town unveiled the Special Attack Corps Monument in Uwatoko Park at the top of hill overlooking the former Kokubu No. 2 Air Base. The current Kagoshima Airport can be seen from the monument. This monument includes a bronze statue of a pilot and a plaque with the names of the young men who died in kamikaze attacks after taking off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base. A plaque to the right of the statue has the following poem:

Repose of Souls

Riders of the white clouds
Come back to us
Cherry blossom breeze
Scent of chrysanthemums
Giving your blessing 
Your hometown now filled
With peace

The Special Attack Forces exhibition room in the community center displays photos of about 50 pilots who sortied from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base. Each photo has the pilot's name, rank, home prefecture, naval training class, home base and unit, and date of death. Two display cases contain copies of several last letters written by the pilots, and the room also has several photos of the base and the units stationed there. A plaque near the entrance gives a summary of the history of the base.

The community center sells a 254-page book (Iwamoto and Mukaida, eds.) giving a detailed history of the base, the last letters of several kamikaze pilots, and reflections on the kamikaze operations by several local residents. Entrance to the Special Attack Corps exhibition room is free, and the community center is about a ten-minute drive from Kagoshima Airport. No information is available in English, and Kirishima City does not have anything about this exhibition on the Internet.

Date of Visit: June 15, 2004

Kokubu No. 2 Air Base Special Attack Corps Monument (Barrel Valley)

Notes

1. The historical information in the first paragraph comes from Iwamoto and Mukaida (1992, 3-5, 26-33, 162).

2. Iwamoto and Mukaida (1992, 8, 26-27) state that the records for the earliest three sortie dates do not clearly indicate whether planes sortied from Kokubu No. 1 Air Base or No. 2 Air Base. Therefore, the figures for Kokubu No. 2 Air Base for March 18, 19, and 20 include both air bases.

Source Cited

Iwamoto, Kiyoshi, and Tsutomu Mukaida, eds. 1992. Chinkon -- shirakumo ni norete kimi kaerimase: Tokkou kichi daini kokubu no ki (Repose of souls -- riders of the white clouds, come back to us: Record of Special Attack Corps Kokubu No. 2 Air Base). Mizobe Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Jusanzukabaru tokkouhi hozon iinkai (Committee to Preserve the Jusanzukabaru Special Attack Corps Monument).