Saku Kaiten Monument
Saku City, Nagano Prefecture
Teishōji Temple in Saku City has a monument built in 1976 to honor kaiten
pilots from Nagano Prefecture who died in World War II. Saku City was the
hometown of Sekio Nishina, one of the co-creators of the kaiten special attack
weapon. Nishina died in a kaiten attack at Ulithi Lagoon on November 20, 1944,
and his kaiten almost surely was the one that hit and sank USS Mississinewa
The stone monument has the inscription of "Kaiten Monument." A model
kaiten stands to the left (see photo at bottom of page), and a stone plaque with the following inscription
stands to the right:
In 1944 when the Pacific War became intense after going on for several
years and when the odds at last were against Japan in the war, Lieutenant
Commander Hiroshi Kuroki  and Lieutenant Commander Sekio Nishina, burning
with deep feelings of patriotism, were with the First Special Base Unit.
They completed an unprecedented sure-death sure-kill underwater special
attack weapon, a human torpedo. They gave it the name of kaiten, with
the hope of reversing the country's declining fortunes, and selected a
base on the island of Ōtsushima in Tokuyama Bay. They worked day and night
in pilot training for the battle tactic of sure-kill of one warship by one
person, and Lieutenant Commander Kuroki even gave his life in training.
Kaiten pilots carried out taiatari (body-crashing) attacks against
enemy ships from bases in Ōtsushima, Hikari, Hirao, and Ōga to the enemy
forward base at Ulithi (under Lieutenant Commander Nishina who stood at the
vanguard of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit), the Kossol
Passage in the Palau Islands, Hollandia, Apra Harbor in Guam, Iwo Jima, the
seas off Okinawa, and the central-western Pacific.
With odds against battle success through August 1945 when arms were laid
down, over 150 kaiten crewmen died in battle or in performance of their
duties , and over 810 crewmen gave their lives
from seven submarines that did not return. With
the desire to remember the brave spirits of those who died in battle and to
tell future generations of the kaiten's great accomplishments, we in Saku,
hometown of kaiten creator Lieutenant Commander Nishina, pray for eternal
world peace. We pray for rest of the spirits of the crewmen from Nagano
Prefecture who died in battle or in performance of their duties: Lieutenant
Commander Sekio Nishina, Ensign Jujirō Kitamura, Lieutenant Kentarō
Nakajima, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Kazunobu Miyazawa. Their comrades in
arms erect here this Kaiten Monument.
June 6, 1976
Nagano Prefecture Kaiten Association
1. The ranks of the men mentioned on the plaque
are those after death. Someone in the Japanese Navy generally was promoted two ranks if he lost
his life in a special attack and promoted one rank if he lost his life in battle
or training. For example, Kuroki was promoted one rank from Lieutenant to
Lieutenant Commander after his death in a training accident, and Nishina was
promoted two ranks from Lieutenant Junior Grade to Lieutenant Commander after
his death in a kaiten special attack.
2. It is unclear why the monument states "over 150
kaiten crewmen died in battle or in performance of their
duties." The Mediasion Co. (2006, 40, 71, 78) gives the following breakdown
for 106 kaiten crewmen who died:
80 - Died after sortie from base in submarine
15 - Died while training
7 - Died when Transport Ship 18 lost on way to Okinawa
2 - Shot in air attacks on base
2 - Took own lives at base after war's end
There were also 35 kaiten maintenance men who lost their lives after
sortie from base in a submarine. However, even combining this number with the
106 kaiten crewmen only gets to a total of 141 men, short of the "over 150"
mentioned on the monument inscription.
The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten
human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.
Saku Kaiten Monument
with model kaiten in foreground