The Japanese Army operated two airfields, Miyakonojō West Airfield and
Miyakonojō East Airfield, during World War II. From these two airfields, 79
young men in ten Shinbu Squadrons took off toward Okinawa for special (suicide)
attacks between April 6 and July 1, 1945. Miyakonojō West was used only by ten
men of the 1st Shinbu Squadron on two dates in April before its use was
discontinued after an intense air attack on April 27 and 28, 1945.
The Miyakonojō West Airfield Monument was erected in 1977. The monument has
engravings on each side as translated below:
The sign in back of the monument summarizes the history of Miyakonojō West
Repose of Souls (Miyakonojō West Airfield)
In the latter part of the Pacific War at the outskirts of Miyakonojō City
where the military authorities of Miyazaki Prefecture were located, there
were Miyakonojō West Airfield and Miyakonojō East Airfield, which were used
as Army tokkō (special attack) bases.
Remembering the return of the Miyakonojō 23rd Infantry Regiment from the
Manchurian Crisis in 1933, Miyakonojō West Airfield was constructed at the
end of 1934 by volunteer labor contributed by the city's regular citizens
and various organizations. The airfield was nearly in the shape of a square
with two unpaved runways running diagonally. Their length was extended to
1,200 meters by April 1945.
In April 1942, the Ministry of Communications and Transportation Pilot
Training School was established for the purpose of training civilian
aircraft personnel. They conducted training with Type 5-1 Medium Grade Model
C Trainers (nicknamed akatonbo, meaning red dragonfly).
The Pacific War began. In 1944, the 2nd Kyōdō Hikōtai (Flight Training
Unit) of the Akeno  Kyōdō Hikō Shidan (Training Air Division) deployed to
West Airfield. The 1st Kutai  (Second Lieutenants from 57th Class of Army
Academy and Grade One Cadets) and 2nd Kutai (Youth Pilots) carried out
combat training with Type 1 Hayabusa fighters and Type 4 Hayate fighters.
In March of the following year of 1945, the flight units ended as
preparations for the Battle of Okinawa were made by each air base in
southern Kyushu. The 100th Hikōdan (Air Brigade) and the 101st and 102nd
Hikō Sentai (Flying Regiments) and two special attack squadrons, equipped with
Type 4 Hayate fighters, deployed to Miyakonojō East and West Airfields.
At about 7 a.m. on March 18, the airfield suffered its first air attack.
It was for the most part restored by ground workers.
On April 6, from ten volunteers of the 101st and 102nd Sentai for the 1st
Shinbu Squadron, eight joined the 1st Combined Attack that included the
tokkō (special attack) sortie of battleship Yamato. On April 12, the
remaining two members of the 1st Shinbu Squadron took off to join the 2nd
Combined Attack. All ten men lost their young lives.
On April 27 and 28, many special attack planes and buildings were
directly hit in repeated air attacks on West Airfield. There were 18 men
killed in these attacks.
In addition, repair operations could not even be carried out due to
delay-action bombs. The 61st Shinbu Squadron (seven men), which was
scheduled to take off and participate in the 5th Combined Air Attack,
hurriedly moved to East Airfield and took off from there.
After that, sorties were made from Miyakonojō East Airfield. The war
ended on August 15.
As we pray that the spirits of the many war dead may rest in peace, we
deeply hope that it will be made known to future generations that Japan's
peace is based on the price paid by those noble sacrifices and that there
will be realization of eternal world peace and prosperity for the human
Miyakonojō Special Attack Corps War Dead Support Association
Chairman, Tatsuya Iwahashi
The following last letters were written by Special
Attack Corps members who took off from Miyakonojō West Airfield and died in special attacks: