What Happened to the Japanese Submarine Crews?
by Parks Stephenson

Copyright © 2010 Parks Stephenson

Author's Note: All Japanese names presented in this article and throughout this website are presented using Western convention; i.e., given name first, family name last. Japanese custom reverses the order, with family name first. Also, the English romanisation of some names presented here may differ from how they have been presented in the other publications. The romanisation of each name in this article was validated with family relatives by Midori Yanagihara (NHK).

"I don't think it is time to tell the full account of the midget submarines which penetrated the harbor, but at least it is certain that a radio dispatch saying 'successful surprise attack' was received from one of them and also that a battleship was sunk at a time when there was no aerial attack."

- Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, in a personal letter to Admiral Sankichi Takahashi, dated 19 December 1941


Five Imperial Japanese Navy special submarines of the Ko-Hyoteki class participated in "Operation Hawaii," the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Each of these submarines carried a two-man crew:

I-16tou: Masaharu Yokoyama (seated, second from left)
  Sadamu Kamita (standing, second from left)
I-18tou: Shigemi Furuno (seated, second from right)
  Shigenori Yokoyama (standing, second from right)
I-20tou: Akira Hiro-o (seated, left)
  Yoshio Katayama (standing, left)
I-22tou: Naoji Iwasa (seated, centre)
  Naokichi Sasaki (standing, centre)
I-24tou: Kazuo Sakamaki (seated, right)
  Kiyoshi Inagaki (standing, right)

These young men went into battle against what they knew were almost impossible odds, and were nevertheless ready to give their all and if necessary, sacrifice their lives for Emperor and country. Afterward, 9 of the 10 were posthumously elevated to the rank of Hero Gods by the Japanese government, placing them just one status level below the Emperor. So, what became of them?

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