At unveiling ceremony
on October 25, 2004
Kamikaze Pilot Statue
Mabalacat Town, Philippines
The town of Mabalacat on Luzon Island in the Philippines unveiled a
life-sized kamikaze pilot statue on October 25, 2004. The statue atop a tall
pedestal stands in a small lot in front of a wall that shows the Japanese rising
sun flag on its right half and the Philippine flag on its left half. The lot
also has a torii, traditional Japanese gate, entrance by the street. Other than
a sign by the street reading "Kamikaze (Divine Wind) East Airfield," the site
provides no information related to the statue or the history of kamikaze pilots
At Mabalacat during the night of October 19 and early morning of October 20,
1944, Vice Admiral Takijirō Ōnishi formed the first special attack unit to carry out aerial suicide attacks
with Zero fighters each carrying a 250-kg bomb. He named it the Shinpū (often
read as Kamikaze) Special Attack Corps, which consisted of 24 pilots divided
into four squadrons. On October 25, the Shikishima Squadron led by Lieutenant
Yukio Seki took off from Mabalacat Airfield and successfully carried out Japan's
first official aerial suicide attack, which sank the escort carrier St. Lo
(CVE-63) and damaged several other American warships.
The Mabalacat kamikaze statue generated some controversy in 2004, when it was
put up, and afterward. Certain individuals complained that the Philippines
should not be honoring and glorifying Japanese kamikaze pilots, since Japan
brutally occupied the country during WWII. Mabalacat officials have defended the
statue by saying its goal is to promote peace using the lessons of war. More
cynical observers point out the true purpose of the statue is to lure Japanese
tourists. With the lack of any written explanation at the site of the statue's
purpose or the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps' history, it seems quite unlikely
that a visitor today would understand the statue's true purpose is to promote peace.
Daniel Dizon , a local historian and artist, is responsible for the
erection of the kamikaze statue and several other monuments in the Mabalacat
area to remember the kamikaze pilots who died. Dizon's interest in the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps began in 1965 when
he read an English translation of The Divine Wind (1958) by Captain Rikihei
Inoguchi and Commander Tadashi Nakajima. American military personnel who
came to his hometown of nearby Angeles in early 1945 talked about Japanese suicide squadrons, but Dizon did
not know anything more about them despite living close to airfields
from which many kamikaze pilots took off. The stories and last letters of
kamikaze pilots included in The Divine Wind left a great impression on him, and he strongly felt that he had
to do something so that Japanese kamikaze pilots could be remembered in the
Other Filipinos expressed little interest in Dizon's ideas regarding
remembrance of Japanese kamikaze, but he worked with Marcos Santos in Mabalacat
Town to erect in 1971 an historical marker in front of his house with the following
Historical Marker - The Birthplace of the Kamikaze
The house of Mr. and Mrs. Marcos Santos is the official birthplace of the
famous Japanese Kamikaze organization of World War II. On the early morning
of 20 October 1944, Vice Admiral Takijiro Ohnishi founded on the spot the
Kamikaze and organized on voluntary basis the very first Kamikaze unit among
the young Japanese flyers of the 201st Air Group, First Air Fleet, Japanese
Imperial Navy Forces. By the end of the Pacific War, the Kamikaze sunk and
damaged a total of 322 U.S. naval vessels and 1,228 suicide sorties were
This original historical marker no longer hangs on the fence along the
street, and it has been replaced by a larger sign.
Kamikaze pilot statue in front of
wall showing Japanese rising sun flag
(Philippine flag also on left of statue
but only partly visible in this photograph)
Finally in 1974 Daniel Dizon
convinced local tourism officials to erect a monument to the Kamikaze Corps at
the former site of Mabalacat East Airfield. The monument had a sign in English with the
words "Kamikaze First Airfield Historical Marker" and had an inscription in
Japanese with the following words, "Airfield where Kamikaze Special Attack Corps
aircraft first took off in World War II." However, the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo
nearly buried the kamikaze monument in ash. Dizon explained the historical
importance of a new memorial to officials at the Mabalacat Tourism Office, and a
new monument with the Japanese and Philippines flags engraved on a wall (see
photo above) was
erected in 2000 at the same site as the original kamikaze monument. In 2004, the kamikaze pilot statue
shown above was erected in front of the wall.
Sign by street in front of lot with kamikaze pilot statue
In the past at this site both before and after the erection of the kamikaze
pilot statue in 2004, there was a sign with the following wording that did
describe the history of the Kamikaze Corps at Mabalacat, but this sign no longer
stands in 2009:
This spot is the central frontage of the very first JAPANESE KAMIKAZE AIR
FIELD of WWII - The Mabalacat East Airfield. On 20 October 1944, VICE
ADMIRAL TAKIJIRO OHNISHI founded the KAMIKAZE at Mabalacat, Pampanga, Luzon
Island. The first to volunteer were the 23 fliers 
of the 201st Air Group, 1st Air Fleet, Imperial Nippon Naval Air Force under
CMDR. ASAICHI TAMAI, then stationed at Mabalacat. The first KAMIKAZE group
was called the Shimpu  Special Attack Corps
under LT. YUKIO SEKI. The corps was divided into four units: the SHIKISHIMA
UNIT; the YAMATO UNIT; the ASAHI UNIT; and the YAMAZAKURA UNIT. At 0725 hrs.
on October 25, 1944, the Shikishima Unit took-off from this airfield led by
LT. YUKIO SEKI. His men were SGT.  IWAO
NAKANO, SGT. NOBOUTANI , EM 1/C HAGIME  NAGAMINE AND EM 2/C SHIGEO OGURO. At 1045 hrs., on the said
date, the unit hit enemy targets near Leyte. LT. SEKI's plane hit first,
blowing up the U.S. Carrier St. Lo which sank 20 minutes later. LT. SEKI's
men also hit and heavily damaged the U.S. Carriers: Kalinin Bay, Kitkun Bay,
Sangamon, Santee, Suwannee and White Plains. This first successful KAMIKAZE
MISSION was witnessed then reported here by C/WO HIROYOSHI NISHIZAWA, Japan's
greatest ace pilot with 103 kills confirmed. War historians considered LT.
YUKIO SEKI as "THE WORLD'S FIRST OFFICIAL HUMAN BOMB!"
N.B. The Mabalacat Tourism Office (MTO) supports the establishment of
Kamikaze Peace Memorial Shrine not for the glorification of the Kamikaze but
rather for the use of war history as a tool for the promotion of peace and
friendship among nations. This shrine serves as a reminder that the Kamikaze
phenomenon shall never happen again.
SGD: GUY "INDRA" HILBERO
HEAD, MABALACAT TOURISM OFFICE
Sign in front of house where Vice Admiral Ohnishi
formed Shinpū (Kamikaze) Special Attack Corps
A short distance from the kamikaze pilot statue along the same road, there is
a sign in front of the house where Vice Admiral Ōnishi met to form the Shinpū
Special Attack Corps. The sign with tattered lettering reads as follows. Any
mistakes in the sign's wording have been shown below.
This house of Mr. and Mrs. Marcos Santos is the official birthplace of
the famous Japanese Kamikaze organization of World War II.
Vice Admiral Takijiro Ohnishi, Commander of the Japanese Naval Air Forces
in the Philippines, founded on this spot and organized on voluntary basis
the very first Kamikaze unit.
Members of 201st Air Group, 1st Air Fleet, 23 young veteran pilots were
asked if they would volunteer to become suicide pilots.
"In a frenzy emotions and joy , the arms of every pilot in the assembly
went up in a gesture of complete accord".
"It was early in the morning of 20 October 1944 that an announcement was
at once drawn up and posted as soon as the Admiral had signed it, in
substance it said:" 
"That 201st Air Group will organize a special attack corps and will
destroy and disable, if possible by 0725 hours on 25 October, 1944, the
enemy carriers in the water coasts of the Philippines." 
The Shimpu Attack Unit will be commanded by Lieutenant Yukio Seki. At
exactly 0725 hrs. the first Kamikaze volunteers flew from Mabalacat East
Airfield and were never to return. "Thus, was born the very first Kamikaze
unit that was later joined by several thousands Oriental warriors. This was
the "Divine Wind" that subsequently struck dreadful fear, chaos and death to
thousands of American sailors".
By the end of the Pacific War, Kamikaze warriors sunk and damaged a total
of 322 U.S. Naval vessels, killed more than 10,000 U.S. sailors and 1,228
suicide sorties were conducted.
N.B. The Mabalacat Tourism Office (MTO) supports the establishment of
Kamikaze Peace Memorial not for the glorification of the Kamikaze but rather
for the use of war history as a tool for the promotion of goodwill, peace
and friendship among the nations. This serves as a reminder that the
Kamikaze phenomenon shall never happen again.
Guy "Indra" Hilbero
Head, Mabalacat Tourism Office,
Jose "Ad" Davrit
Santos house where Vice Admiral Ohnishi
formed first kamikaze unit
(photo taken on October 25, 2004)
The following last letters and diary entries were written by Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps members who took off from Mabalacat Air Base and died in special attacks:
Related Web Page
Fumiko Hattori kindly provided this web page's first two photos
and the last photo. All were taken
on October 25, 2004.
1. In Chapter 5 of
Daniel Dizon's autobiography
(2007, 206-52), he explains his interest in the Japanese Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps and doing something to remember them. This web page
contains information from this chapter.
2. Dizon 2007, 229.
3. Lieutenant Yukio Seki was the 24th
pilot of the Shinpu Special Attack Corps. He volunteered later the same night.
4. Shimbu and Shinpu are romanization
alternatives for the Japanese characters. Inoguchi and Nakajima (1958) use
5. Iwao Nakano's rank was Ensign.
6. This should read Nobuo Tani rather
than the incorrect name of Noboutani.
7. This should be Hajime rather than
8. This sentence is from Inoguchi
1958, 10. The sentence on the sign starts "in a frenzy emotions and joy," but
the beginning of the sentence in Inoguchi reads "in a frenzy of emotion and
9. This slightly misquoted paragraph
on the sign comes from Inoguchi 1958, 13. The actual words in Inoguchi are: "It
was early in the morning of 20 October 1944, but an announcement was drawn up at
once and posted as soon as the Admiral had signed it. In substance it said:"
10. Here again the sentence from
Inoguchi (1958, 13) is misquoted. Inoguchi states: "The 201st Air Group will
organize a special attack corps and will destroy or disable, if possible by 25
October, the enemy carrier forces in the waters east of the Philippines."
Dizon, Daniel H. 2007.
Firipin shōnen ga mita
kamikaze: osanai kokoro ni kizamareta yasashii nihonjintachi (Kamikaze
seen by Philippine youth: Kind Japanese individuals engraved in my young heart). Tōkyō:
Inoguchi, Rikihei, and Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.