Dewa, Japanese Mother Sub I-16
interviews taken for the National Geographic program, Pearl Harbor: Legacy of
Attack, on the National Geographic Channel.
|Photo: Courtesy of
Kichiji Dewa |
I was in junior high school, I was taught by my teachers and others that Japan
would make war with America. While being trained in the Japanese Navy, I learned
about Japans secret weapon, the midget submarine. It has two torpedoes and
only two men could get into it. Each torpedo carried about 2200 kg (1,000 pounds)
On the I-16, my assignment was the midget submarine. I was
the maintenance man, and I had to keep the submarine in the best possible condition.
We went to places along the Inland Sea of the Japanese coast, where there
were bays like Pearl Harbors. We trained to enter narrow places at night.
And we worked in the day, too
diary shows that the I-16 left for Hawaii on November 18
When the crew learned
that they would attack the United States, they were really surprised and got shaken.
But it was no surprise to those of us who had trained in the midget submarine.
midget submarine ran on an electrical motor, powered by 224 batteries. The midget
could run underwater at a top speed of about 20 miles (32 km) per hour. I maintained
the electrical wiring. And I put in a special switch for the radio on the midget
submarine. It would use the radio after it left the mother submarine.
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our feelings at the time, there was no sense of impending tragedy. Everyone felt
that we were simply carrying out our duty, taking part in military action. That
was the only thing on our minds, though I felt that they might never make it back.[Before
the midget sub left] I said something like, take care to them. I didnt
say anything special, just words of parting said on the phone, very normal. They
set out to carry out their duty, and we just saw them off. Even though the fact
that they wouldnt return was a foregone conclusion, we didnt talk
I hoped that they would return, but the commander told me, If I come back,
Ill come back with a wolf, as we say in Japan, and put the mother
sub in danger. So I dont think they planned to return, even if they
and Japan must have had their reasons for starting the war, but after coming here
and seeing the waves of the Pacific, I question why we had to go to war. Japan
and the United States could be described as brothers, they should get along well
to protect world peace, because I think Pacific peace is world peace. This
trip has made me feel that we must protect it.
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World War II Stories
Excerpted from interviews
taken for the National Geographic program, Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack, on
the National Geographic Channel.