Commander Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki (POW)
Crew PO2C Kiyoshi Inagaki (KIA)
Grounded December 7, 1941
Sakamaki was born November 8, 1918 in Tokushima Prefecture. In 1940, he graduated the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy at Eta Jima as a member of the 68th class. He was selected to participate in a a "Special Attack Unit" to attack on Pearl Harbor.
Built in Kure during 1938 as HA-19 Type A Midget Submarine, the 19th built.
During November-December 1941, this submarine was transported aboard Japanese submarine I-24.
On December 7, 1941 at 3:33am, I-24 arrived at the launch point 10.5 miles WSW off the entrance to Pearl Harbor and launches this midget submarine. Aboard is commander Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki and Chief Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Inagaki. The midget submarines mission was to penetrate Pearl Harbor, navigating submerged, counterclockwise around Ford Island, then exit to rendezvous with their mother submarines seven miles west
of Lanai Island.
This submarine begins to broach but the trim was corrected. By 7:00am reaches the entrance to Pearl Harbor but is unable to enter before the first wave of the aerial attack. At 8:00am, the submarine surfaces, but ran aground on a reef and was spotted and fired on by USS Helm DD-338. The shell misses, damages the torpedo firing mechanism and knocks Sakamaki unconscious and blasts it free of the reef. When Sakamaki regains consciousness and sees ships burning in Pearl Harbor but runs aground again. The crew shifted ballast in an attempt to free themselves but the submarine's helm is not responsive. Adrift, the sub is depth charged several times and never participated in the attack. Battery fumes cause the crew to slip in an out of consciousness.
The submarine drifted off Waimanalo at Bellows Beach on the east side of Oahu. Before abandoning the sub, Sakamaki, lights the fuse for the self destruct charge but it failed to detonate. Both crew attempted to swim ashore. Inagaki drown.
Knocked unconscious by the surf, Sakamaki washed ashore.
Fates of the Crew
After Sakamaki washed ashore, he was found by U. S. Army Hawaiian National Guard soldier Cpl David M. Akui and captured still unconscious and transported to a military hospital under armed guard when he awoke. Sakamaki became the first Japanese Prisoner Of War (POW) captured
by the United States during the Pacific War. He was initially detained at Sand Island and was ashamed for being taken prisoner and requested permission to commit suicide, which was denied. In protest, he burned his cheeks six times with a cigarette before being photographed as POW No. 1. Later, he was transported to the United States and detained in POW camps. When it became known Sakamaki was
a prisoner, the Japanese government struck his name from records so he officially ceased to exist. Although the other midget submarine crew members were posthumously promoted two ranks, Sakamaki was not and received hate mail from Japanese as a prisoner.
Postwar, he was repatriated to Japan and became a pacifist. In 1949, his memoir was published "I Attacked Pearl Harbor" in the United States.
He worked at Toyota as president of the Brazilian subsidiary between 1969 to 1983 then in 1983 returned to Japan and continued working for Toyota until retiring in 1983. He did not speak about the war until writing a memoir. In 1991 he attended a symposium for the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the National Museum of the Pacific War (Nimitz Museum) and was reunited with his midget submarine displayed at the museum. He passed away November 29, 1999.
This midget submarine beached at Waimanalo at Bellows Beach on the east side of Oahu.
Dubbed "Midget C" (M-19) the third Japanese submarine spotted during the attack. Photographed on or shortly after December 8, 1941 secured by ropes from drifting away and soon afterwards submarine was hauled ashore. The grounding was attributed to a malfunctioning gyro compass. Inside the submarine a Japanese map was found with a course inside Pearl Harbor plotted around Ford Island.
Afterwards, the submarine toured the United States as part of a war bond tour. During 1942 displayed at Mare Island and seen by U. S. President F. D. Roosevelt. In 1943 toured Fredericksburg, Texas. At the end of World War II exhibited in Key West, Florida.
In 1990, the National Park Service (NPS) loaned the submarine to the National Museum of the Pacific War (Nimitz Museum) and lobbied to keep it in Texas on a permanent basis. During 1991, placed on display inside National Museum of the Pacific War (Nimitz Museum). The midget submarine is part of a diorama depicting the deck of I-24 in the early morning of December 7, 1941.
On March 6, 1942, the midget submarine crews of all the Pearl Harbor attack (except Ensign Sakamaki) were posthumously promoted two ranks.
The crews are also memorialized at the Nine War Gods Monument at Suga Park, Mitsukue Bay, Ehime Prefecture.
Four Years as a Prisoner-of-War, No. 1 by Kazuo Sakamaki (Japanese language)
I Attacked Pearl Harbor by Kazuo Sakamaki (English language) published 1949
New York Times "Kazuo Sakamaki, 81, Pacific P.O.W. No. 1" by Richard Goldstein December 21, 1999
Star Bulletin "WWII’s first Japanese prisoner shunned the spotlight" by Burl Burlingame May 11, 2002
Combined Fleet - Midget Submarines at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 1941
Combined Fleet - HIJMS Submarine I-24: Tabular Record of Movement
US Navy Heritage - Japanese Navy Ships -- Ha-19 (Midget Submarine, 1938-1941)
US Navy Heritage - Ha-19 (Midget Submarine, 1938-1941) -- Close-up and On Board Views
US Navy Heritage - Ha-19 (Midget Submarine, 1938-1941) -- On Exhibit in the United States
HURL "Report on 3 Piece Japanese Submarine" page 17
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May 22, 2017