Special Attack Fleet Ryukon Monument
Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
A hill in the Mitajiri area of Hofu City has a monument next to a road closed
to regular traffic. This monument erected in 1993 honors the men who died in the
suicide mission of the task force led by battleship Yamato toward Okinawa
in April 1945. Battleship Yamato left toward
Okinawa from nearby Tokuyama Bay, which can be seen from the monument's location.
The word "Ryukon" can be translated as "enduring spirits," and the phrase
"Special Attack" refers to the suicidal nature of the fleet's mission. A copper
plaque to the left of the main monument gives the following history.
Mother Sea's History
Mitajiri viewed below was an anchorage associated with the former Navy
where the Combined Fleet at one time frequently traversed and met its end.
On April 6, 1945, near the end of World War II, a Surface Special Attack
Force with ten ships led by battleship Yamato left to invade Okinawa.
They weighed anchor on this Mother Sea to set out to attack the Allied
fleet. On the next day on April 7, they fought against more than 500 enemy
aircraft north of the islands of Amami and Tokunoshima. Under 2nd Fleet Commander Seiichi
Ito, 3,728 officers and men died heroic deaths in battle.
Off this stretch of shore, 138 young men who died in battle in kaiten
special attacks or during training used this Sacred Sea to devote themselves
day and night to rigorous taiatari (body-crashing) training at bases at Otsushima,
Hikari, and Hirao.
The hope of those men was to obtain eternal peace for their country
and fellow countrymen in exchange for their own lives. In the end they were not
able to reverse the war situation, but we must bear deeply in mind such
noble actions and spirit of self-sacrifice that established the foundation
for unprecedented peace and prosperity in today's Japan.
A white sign in front of the monument gives the following description:
Offshore 14 kilometers from here is an observation point at Kanagamisaki on
Otsushima Island, the location of the remains of a Special Attack Corps human
torpedo kaiten launch base. What do the warriors remembered here at Ryukon
Monument now think of the kaiten base viewed from this hill by the Seto Inland
Donated by Mr. Watanabe
Tokuyama Bay, Mitajiri
View from Special Attack Fleet Ryukon Monument