Setagaya Special Attack Peace Kannon
Tōkyō City, Tōkyō Prefecture
Two Special Attack Peace Kannon (Buddhist goddess of mercy) statues, one for the
Japanese Navy and the other
for the Army, were created in 1952 and were the first tangible remembrances of the young men in both the Navy and Army who died in special (suicide)
attacks during the Pacific War. Several former high-ranking officers supported their creation. These included Lieutenant General Michio Sugawara
and General Masakazu Kawabe from the Army and Admiral Koshirō Oikawa,
Admiral Sankichi Takahashi, and Vice Admiral Kinpei Teraoka from the Navy. The names of those men who died in special attacks
inside the two kannon statues.
In May 1955, the two Special Attack Peace Kannon were moved to Setagaya
Kannon Temple in Setagaya Ward of Tōkyō City. They were first housed in the
temple's main hall but were moved to a separate hall in May 1956. The two kannon
statues were originally just in remembrance of men who died in aerial special attacks,
but later this was expanded to include special attacks by watercraft. There is a
plaque in front of the Special Attack Kannon Hall that
is engraved in both Japanese and
English. The English portion reads:
"Tokubetsu Kōgekitai": In Memoriam
From the beginning of the Great East Asian War, on which we staked the
existence of our nation, suicide attacks were conducted without the
slightest expectation of survival. The ages of those fearless warriors
ranged from 17 to 30. Leaving behind their parents and loved ones, and
abandoning their own promise of a glowing future, these young men carried
out human bomb attacks in the skies, on the seas and on the land, while they
achieved outstanding military success at the cost of their precious lives.
The deaths total some 6,000 men. The suicide operations, incomparable in
their tragic bravery, struck terror into their foes and engulfed the entire
country in tears of gratitude for their unstinting loyalty and selfless
The devotion of the "tokubetsu kōgekitai" will remain forever in the
hearts of the Japanese as an expression of patriotism, in its noblest and
purest form, while at the same time leaving an indelible impression among the peoples
of the world. This spirit has laid the groundwork for the peace and
prosperity of our nation today and in future.
It is with feelings of deepest sorrow for the deaths of these young men
that we enter the historical materials of the "tokubetsu kōgekitai" in this
"Yūshūkan." May their spirit and their remarkable achievements inspire us
for generation after generation.
Association of "Tokubetsu Kōgekitai Irei Kenshō-tai"
December 8, 1985
Yūshūkan, mentioned in the last paragraph of the plaque above, refers to the
museum at Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) in Tōkyō. Although the second paragraph above
states that special attack deaths totaled some 6,000 men, a sign on the outside
wall of Setagaya Kannon Temple and a web page on the temple's web site indicate
that 4,615 war dead spirits, 2,615 from the Navy and 2,000 from the Army, are
honored here. These numbers are difficult to reconcile with other published
numbers, since no details of their make-up are provided. A
plaque in front of Yasukuni Jinja Yūshūkan
by the Tokkōtai (Special Attack Corps) Commemoration Peace Memorial Association
gives details of special attack deaths that add up to 5,843, which is consistent
with the "some 6,000 men" indicated on the Setagaya
Special Attack Kannon Hall plaque.
There is a memorial ceremony on the 18th of each month at the Special Attack Kannon Hall
at Setagaya Kannon Temple.
The grounds of Setagaya Kannon Temple have three other monuments in
remembrance of men who died in special attacks. These are the
Tenzan Corps Monument,
Shinshū Fumetsu Special Attack Squadron
Monument, and Special Attack Corps Monument with the bronze figure of the
front half of a kamikaze pilot standing on a stone pedestal.
Special Attack Kannon Hall
Historical information about the Setagaya Special Attack Kannon in this web
page's first two
paragraphs is from page 360 of the following book:
Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.