USS Mississinewa AO-59

Mike Mair – first foreigner asked to speak at annual Kaiten Memorial in Japan

Early in November of 2019, Mike Mair and his wife, Nancy, had the pleasure of visiting Japan.  They had been invited to speak at the ceremony commemorating the first departure of the first Kaiten.  This ceremony is held annually since 1962 as a remembrance of the men of the Imperial Japanese Navy who left on that mission in 1944, which resulted in the sinking of the USS Mississinewa (AO-59) on 20 Nov 1944.

On the trip, Mike and Nancy were honored to meet with the president of Kaiten Kensho-kai, Mr. Harada. Mike wrote in FaceBook that, “Mr. Harada extended the most gracious hospitality that Nancy and I have ever experienced.” Also, as part of the trip, in Tokyo Mike and Nancy, along with Mr. Harada, met the daughter of Toshiharu Konada, founder of Kaiten-kai (kaiten torpedo pilots). Mr. Konada worked tirelessly with Mike in the early 2000s to provide IJN 6th Fleet records, historic photos, innovative research, and former Kaiten pilots' personal stories. Mr. Konada died in 2006.

Additionally, Mike wrote:

We visited the Atada Memorial Museum today in Hirao site of a kaiten training base during WWII. A replica of a Type I kaiten that sank USS Mississinewa was on display. The museum was full of artifacts including personal items, periscopes, handwritten wills, letters, blueprints, uniforms, etc. We met 96 yrs old Ykio Yamane who was Sekio Nishina's childhood friend. Nishina sank Mississinewa. The site where Nishina's family home once stood was a few steps from Yamane's front door. He was in absolute disbelieve that he met an American who wrote about his best friend. He said it was the happiest day of his life. Yamane flew many bombing missions over China and was the only man from his hometown to return alive at the end of the war. 

Mike was invited by KRY TV and Kaiten Kensho-kai to work on a Kaiten TV documentary. Paul Allan, deceased co-owner of Microsoft placed a request of Bill Gates in his will to fund a kaiten documentary. We met the Mayor of Shunan City today Ms. Ritsuko. The local newspaper ran photos and a story about Mike today. Japan's second-largest national newspaper interviewed Mike as well. We travel to Ozushima Island in the morning with a TV crew to tour the WWII secret kaiten training base and tour the Kaiten Memorial Museum. Each day was more amazing than the last with the media attention building up to Mike's Memorial Ceremony speech was the first time a foreigner had been invited to speak since this solemn ceremony began in 1962. Among the honored guests were many members of the Japanese Diet (Congress). Quite a well deserved honor!

Mike meeting the Kaiten Kensho-kai president, Mr. Harada.

Bereaved families who lost immediate family members who perished during kaiten missions WWII — at Tokuyama-Shi Japan.

Mike Mair offering a brief historic speech at the Kaiten Memorial Ceremony, November 10, 2019. Ohzushima Island, Yamaguchi Prefecture

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