Japan to List Kamikaze Pilots' Letters with UNESCO

Japan is seeking to list letters left behind by World War II kamikaze pilots with UNESCO. In September last year, Tokyo stirred up controversy by seeking to list coal mines and other facilities where Koreans were forced into slave labor during the war as World Heritage sites.

TV channel NHK on Tuesday said the town of Minamikyushu in Kagoshima Prefecture submitted 333 items left behind by kamikaze pilots for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Minamikyushu was home to a base for pilots who flew suicide missions against U.S. warships toward the end of the war.

In the losing stages of the Pacific War, Japan appealed to the fanatical nationalism of young soldiers who were to fly the fighter planes directly into the bodies of U.S. ships. More than 1,000 of the doomed pilots left letters and photos for their families. A museum in the city houses 14,000, of which 333 have been translated into English.

Minamikyushu Mayor Kanpei Shimoide at a press conference said he hopes to "convey to the world the importance of peace and wretchedness of war by preserving and handing down the 'messages of truth'" left behind by the pilots.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 05, 2014 10:46 KST