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Miyara Bay Shin'yō Boat Tunnels
Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture

Miyara Bay in Ishigakijima, an island about 240 kilometers east of north Taiwan, has two tunnels from WWII built into a cliff near the bay in order to hide shin'yō explosive motorboats. The Japanese Navy planned to use these plywood shin'yō boats, each loaded with 250 kilograms of explosives, in order to make suicide attacks against American ships if they approached the island.

The two tunnels with entrances about 15 meters apart are about 25 meters in depth. They are interconnected at the back, so they could be considered as one continuous tunnel. The left tunnel entrance has a table with incense and other items on it to remember the 68 shin'yō squadron members who lost their lives during the war.

The two tunnels were used by the 38th Shin'yō Special Attack Squadron, which was formed on January 15, 1945, after shin'yō boat pilots completed training at Kawatana Torpedo Boat Training School in Nagasaki Prefecture. The squadron had 50 one-man Model 1 shin'yō boats and 188 total members with 8 officers, 50 shin'yō boat pilots, 35 maintenance workers, 21 headquarters personnel, and 74 base workers.

The main part of the squadron arrived at Ishigakijima on January 28, 1945. The remaining part of the squadron experienced several delays on its way to Ishigakijima from Sasebo Naval Base in Nagasaki Prefecture with several stops along the way. After the sun set on February 28, 1945, the men went on three motorized sailboats from Kume Island to Miyakojima, an island about 120 kilometers east of Ishigakijima. Near dawn the next morning, enemy aircraft attacked the three boats, which burned and sank. There were 68 members of the 38th Shin'yō Special Attack Squadron on the three boats who lost their lives. The seven squadron members on the three boats who survived were reassigned temporarily to a shin'yō squadron on Miyakojima, and they joined again the 38th Shin'yō Squadron when they arrived finally at Ishigakijima on August 5.

View of right shin'yō tunnel from entrance

The 23rd Shin'yō Special Attack Squadron with 50 one-man Model 1 shin'yō boats was also based at Miyara Bay. On December 11, 1944, this squadron's 184 total members arrived at Ishigakijima after the 50 shin'yō pilots had trained at Kawatana Torpedo Boat Training School in Nagasaki Prefecture from September 16 to October 15, 1944. The 23rd Shin'yō Special Attack Squadron was formed officially on October 25, 1944.

View of Miyara Bay from beach near two shin'yō tunnels

There were about 30 tunnels constructed next to Miyara Bay in order to hide the 23rd Shin'yō Squadron's 50 boats. The squadron ended the war without having to make a sortie to attack enemy ships, but there were air attacks day after day. Squadron Commander Lieutenant Makuta, an Etajima Naval Academy 69th Class graduate, was convicted as a BC Class war criminal for the killing of an American POW on Ishigakijima. He died in Sugamo Prison on April 7, 1950.

Officers and shin'yō boat pilots of
38th Shin'yō Special Attack Squadron

The two shin'yō boat tunnels are located just east of the Miyara River entrance. There are some other shin'yō tunnel remains around Miyara Bay, but these are not readily accessible.

The historical photographs and information on this web page about the 38th Shin'yō Special Attack Squadron are from pages 80-1 (written by former 38th Shin'yō Squadron Commander Tabii) of the following book:

Shin'yō Association (Shin'yōkai), ed. 1990. Ningen heiki: Shin'yō tokubetsu kōgekitai (Human weapon: Shin'yō Special Attack Corps). Shiro Arai, general editor. Volume 2 of 2. Tōkyō: Kokushokankōkai.

The historical information on this web page about the 23rd Shin'yō Special Attack Squadron is from pages 50-1.