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Battleship Yamato Memorial Tower
Cape Inutabu, Tokunoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture

On April 7, 1945, U.S. carrier planes sunk Yamato on its way to Okinawa, where the Japanese Navy planned to have the giant battleship run aground and then fight off American sea and ground forces with its artillery for as long as possible. The Navy designated the mission as "special attack" (tokko in Japanese), which meant the men on Yamato were expected to die in the attack.

One cruiser and eight destroyers accompanied Yamato, but no air cover was provided. Yamato sunk at 2:22 p.m. after almost two hours of fighting off American planes dropping bombs and torpedoes. In addition to Yamato, the light cruiser Yahagi and the destroyers Asashimo, Hamakaze, Isokaze, and Kasumi sank. According to a sign next to the tower, 3,721 men from this Japanese task force lost their lives that day [1].

The Battleship Yamato Memorial Tower was erected in April 1968 on Cape Inutabu, located in the southwest part of the small island of Tokunoshima. Yamato sunk in the East China Sea about 200 miles northwest of Tokunoshima (Yoshida 1985, 152). A sign in front of the tower gives the official name as "Memorial Tower of Special Attack Fleet with Battleship Yamato as Flagship," so the memorial honors the men killed in all ships that sunk. A memorial service is held annually at the tower on April 7.

Note

1. This number is inconsistent with that provided by Spurr (1981, 308), who indicates that 4,250 men lost their lives (3,063 from Yamato and 1,187 from escort ships).

Sources Cited

Spurr, Russell. 1981. A Glorious Way to Die: The Kamikaze Mission of the Battleship Yamato, April 1945. New York: Newmarket Press.

Yoshida, Mitsuru. 1985. Requiem for Battleship Yamato. Translation and Introduction by Richard H. Minear. Seattle: University of Washington Press.