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Japan: Soldiers pay tribute to dead kamikaze pilots

May 09, 2005 12:22 IST

About 40 former Imperial Army special cadets in Japan prayed for kamikaze pilots who died during World War II at a memorial hall set in a temple in Chiran in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The memorial hall exhibits pictures of dead pilots and letters written to their parents before leaving for suicide attacks on American warships.

The Japanese military had organised the kamikaze corps to counter the United States offensive towards the end of the war. The first corps plunged into the United States fleet off the Philippines in October 1944.

Over 2,600 army and navy personnel are said to have been sacrificed in that attack during the Okinawa battle.

The former cadets recalled the attack and prayed for the families of the dead officers.

Toru Hokazono, 80, of Kagoshima city, apologised to the families of other officers and said, "Parents kill their children, and children kill their parents. The Japanese have lost their beautiful heart."

He has been visiting Chiran on the sixth day of every month for more than 30 years.

Shigeyoshi Hamazono, 81, of Kagoshima city, was at the Senganhira Natural Park in the town of Ei on April 6.

On that day 60 years ago, he left on a mission but his plane made an emergency landing on Chiran after being bombed, seriously injuring him.

On April 6 every year, he is reminded of Japan's defeat, but he added, "I am very happy to be alive."

(Kyodo News Service)