Hijirigaura Shin'yō Monument
Minamikyūshū City, Kagoshima Prefecture
The former town of Chiran, now part of Minamikyūshū City, is best known for
its kamikaze museum visited by many Japanese tour groups. Chiran Town also established a
small park at the site of a former Navy shin'yō explosive motorboat base, where
the shin'yō squadron members stationed there prepared to make suicide ramming attacks against American ships if
they invaded the Japanese homeland. The shin'yō base at Hijirigaura Inlet was
located about halfway between Ibusuki and Makurazaki along the southern coast of
Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The monument site includes a stone shin'yō motorboat replica having minimum details
erected in 1996. The
monument that stands to the left of the shin'yō motorboat shows a boat in the
waves in the top half a circular stone slab.
The plaque on the monument base gives the following history:
As the situation worsened toward the end of World War II, preparations
were made in 1945 for the decisive battle for the homeland, and the Navy's
125th Shin'yō Squadron was stationed here at Hijirigaura. It is said that the
word shin'yō is derived from the phrase "shake the Pacific Ocean." The
war ended just before they were to carry out attacks, and fortunately about
180 men departed safely from this place.
The shin'yō boat was constructed by loading a truck engine on a plywood
boat and placing explosive charges in the boat's front tip. Its speed was
about 42 km/hour. It was a human weapon when aimed at another ship and then
exploding with its crewmembers. Bases were constructed at 114 places in
Japan and in a total of 146 places when China, Taiwan, and the Philippines
are included . Kagoshima Prefecture had 18 bases, including ones at Bōnotsu,
Kataura, Nomaike, Nagasakibana, and Kiire.
The funds to construct the monument were donated by 55 former members of
the Yokaren (Flight Preparatory Training Program) 21st Class, whose names are listed
on a plaque on the right side of the stone shin'yō replica. Although the Navy
established Yokaren for flight training, at the end of the war many Yokaren
graduates were assigned to other suicide units, such as those for shin'yō
explosive motorboats and kaiten human torpedoes.
1. This statement is incorrect. 56th
Shin'yō (2004, 7, 162-71) explains that there was a total of 114 squadrons and
bases in Japan and other places. The mistake on the monument plaque most likely
occurred because the highest numbered squadron was the 146th Shin'yō Squadron,
but 32 numbers (from 69 to 100) were never used for any shin'yō squadron.
56th Shin'yō Squadron Member Volunteers, Reiko Kimura, and
Enosuke Kamida. 2004.
Kaigun suijō tokkōtai: Shin'yō (Navy surface special attack corps:
Shin'yō). Tōkyō: Gensyu Publishing.