282,643 Pages

Kaname Harada
Harada in 1943
Born 11 August 1916(1916-08-11) (age 105)
Place of birth Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
Rank Lieutenant (junior grade)
Battles/wars Second Sino-Japanese War
Pacific War
Other work Dairy farmer, kindergarten principal, anti-war activist

Kaname Harada (原田要?, born 11 August 1916) is a Japanese flying ace of World War II. He is credited with shooting down as many as 19 Allied aircraft. Following the war, he worked as a farmer, before founding a kindergarten. He has been an anti-war activist since 1991.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Harada was born in Nagano Prefecture on 11 August 1916.[1]

Military service[edit | edit source]

After completing schooling he joined the Imperial Japanese Navy, and graduated from the service's 35th pilot training class in February 1937.[2] Harada was posted to China in October that year during the Second Sino-Japanese War, but was not involved in any aerial combat there.[2][3] He returned to Japan in January 1938, and subsequently served in several training positions.[2]

At the outbreak of the Pacific War, Harada was a Mitsubishi A6M Zero pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Sōryū, which formed part of the 1st Air Fleet.[2] In this role, he took part in the 1st Air Fleet's series of operations during the first months of the war. On 7 December 1941, he flew protective patrols over the fleet during the Attack on Pearl Harbor, but did not see any combat.[2] Harada also escorted the aircraft which attacked the Australian port of Darwin on 19 February 1942.[4] During the Indian Ocean raid, he was confirmed to have shot down three British fighters over Colombo on 5 April, and claimed another two as "probables". Four days later, he downed two British Bristol Blenheim light bombers which were attempting to attack the Japanese fleet.[2]

During the Battle of Midway, he shot down either three[2] or five[5] American aircraft. He landed on the last surviving Japanese aircraft carrier, Hiryū, after Sōryū was sunk by United States aircraft and was in the air at the time of Hiryū's subsequent sinking. Harada was later rescued by a Japanese warship after being forced to ditch into the sea.[3][5]

In July 1942, Harada was re-assigned to the aircraft carrier Hiyō. In early October of that year, the carrier departed Japan to take part in the Guadalcanal Campaign. On 17 October, Harada formed part of the escort for a force of torpedo bombers which were attempting to attack targets on Guadalcanal. American Grumman F4F Wildcats attacked this force, and while Harada probably downed a Wildcat, his aircraft was badly damaged. He made a forced landing near the Japanese base at Rekata Bay on Santa Isabel Island, and was later transported back to Japan on board a hospital ship.[2] He badly injured an arm in the crash, which ended his career as a combat pilot. He subsequently served as a flying instructor, and late in the war trained Kamikaze pilots.[3][5] By the end of hostilities, he held the rank of lieutenant (junior grade) and had flown for 8,000 hours.[1][4][5] The number of aircraft Harada is credited with shooting down differs between sources; in 2011 Ikuhiko Hata, Yasuho Izawa and Christopher Shores wrote that he "was credited with nine confirmed victories",[2] while a 2015 $3 article states that he downed 19 Allied aircraft.[5]

Later life[edit | edit source]

Harada in 2010

Following World War II, Harada initially worked as a dairy farmer, but suffered from nightmares in which he saw the faces of the American airmen he had downed during the war.[5] In 1965, he founded a kindergarten after his wife asked him "If you want to atone for the lives you have taken, what better way is there than to nurture new lives?" He continued as a principal of the kindergarten until his retirement.[3][5] In a 2013 interview with The Australian Harada said that

The first incarnation of my life was as a ruthless killer. I still live with a sense of sin over those I killed. I chased them and shot them down—such a horrible thing to do. Now, I go to the kindergarten every day and interact with the children. I want to nurture kind and considerate hearts in all of them.[4]

Harada has also traveled to the United Kingdom and United States to meet some of the American and British airmen he had fought against; and also visited Santa Isabel Island, where he located the wreckage of his fighter and brought a section of it back to Japan.[2][4][5]

Harada has been an anti-war activist since 1991.[5] He began giving public talks about his combat experiences and the need to avoid wars that year after overhearing young Japanese discussing the bombing which took place during the Gulf War as if it formed part of a video game.[5] In 2015, The New York Times reported that Harada, aged 98, is a "highly sought-after public speaker", who is motivated by a desire to pass on his experiences as a warning to the current generations of Japanese who he believes are unaware of the nature of warfare.[5] A documentary covering Harada's life was released in Japan in March 2015.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

Works consulted[edit | edit source]

  • Hata, Ikuhiko; Izawa, Yasuho; Shores, Christopher (2011). Japanese Naval Fighter Aces: 1932–45. London: Grubb Street. ISBN 9781906502843. 

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.