Minamisōma City, Fukushima Prefecture
Iwao Nakano volunteered for the first kamikaze unit formed by Vice Admiral
Takijirō Ōnishi at Mabalacat Airfield in the Philippines. Nakano piloted the
second plane of the Shikishima Squadron led by Yukio Seki. On October 25, 1944,
five men in the squadron died in suicide attacks on American ships in Leyte
Nakano's schoolmates from Haramachi Elementary School and Sōma Junior High
School collected funds to erect a monument in 1980 to honor Nakano. The stone
monument with a bust of Nakano on top stands in Yo no Mori (Night Forest) Park,
where Haramachi Elementary School used to hold its annual sports day.
A replica of the 250-kg bomb carried by Nakano's Zero fighter is located in
front of the monument, which stands next to the children's playground. The park
has several other monuments, including one in honor of Toshimi Shiga, a
Haramachi native who died on November 6, 1944, as a member of the Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps 4th Unit.
The monument's plaque has the following inscription:
Ensign Nakano's name was Iwao, and he was born in Haramachi in 1925. His
father's name was Shōtarō, and his mother's name was Hideyo. In 1942, resolved
to serve his country, he joined the Tsuchiura Naval Air Group. Soon the war
situation reversed, and he saw the country on the brink of a crisis that would
determine its fate.
With indignation and at the risk of his life, he joined the
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Shikishima Squadron to try to reverse this
situation. Before dawn on October 25, 1944, at the age of 19, he made a surprise
attack on an enemy ship in Leyte Gulf, and he bravely died in battle action with
his body as an artillery shell.
He received a special promotion of two ranks to
Ensign, and his distinguished service was recognized publicly. With great
affection from his friends of his same class in elementary school and junior high
school, we erect this monument to make known forever his great devotion.
The above inscription incorrectly states that Nakano attacked before dawn on
October 25, 1944. He took off from Mabalacat Airfield at 7:25, and the squadron
did not sight enemy ships until 10:40 (Kaneko 107-8, 112).
Kaneko, Toshio. 2001. Shinpū tokkō no kiroku (Record of
Shinpū Special Attacks). Tokyo: Kojinsha.
Bust of Iwao Nakano
Portrait of Iwao Nakano by Daniel Dizon
(at Dizon Kamikaze Museum
at Angeles City, Philippines)