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Ibaraki group plans kamikaze film

JIJI

An Ibaraki Prefecture-based group aims to make a movie on a former Imperial Japanese Navy air unit based in the present city of Kasama that trained kamikaze pilots near the end of the war.

The Tsukuba air unit, launched in 1934, used the mainstay Zero fighters for training as the war situation worsened.

Many young pilots were sent from the Tsukuba unit to attack U.S. warships off Okinawa and the Philippines. Of those who went, 73 died.

A planning committee formed by the local revitalization group Project Ibaraki, led by Daisuke Kanazawa, aims to release the movie next summer.

The committee also plans to make video clips of interviews with surviving members of the Tsukuba unit.

“I can’t stop my tears when I recall that time,” said Katsumi Takano, who heads a group of relatives of Tsukuba unit members. Takano, 85, was a preparatory-course trainee and watched the departure of kamikaze pilots.

A prefectural hospital currently stands where the navy air unit was based, but the unit’s command building and other facilities remain almost untouched.

The local initiative was motivated by a best-selling novel written by Naoki Hyakuta that portrays the lives of kamikaze pilots. The Tsukuba unit’s command building was used during the making of a movie based on the novel “Eien no Zero” (“Eternal Zero”). The movie is to be released in December.