Kagoshima (130.529E 31.551N) is located on the northwest shore of Kagoshima Bay (Kiko Bay) in southern Kyushu. The population was about 190,000 in 1945. The skyline is dominated by the nearby volcanic peninsula of Sakurajima, admired by the Japanese for its great natural beauty. The city is a major port and trade center and is also known for its bamboo wares and Satsuma pottery. The Satsuma were one of the most powerful clans of feudal Japan.

The port had significant oil-storage facilities and was protected by a heavy artillery fortress regiment. Airfields in the vicinity played an important part in the kamikaze attacks during the Okinawa campaign, and the are was struck by carrier raids on 8 June 1945. The carrier pilots were impressed by heavy air defenses, but these would prove inadequate against the subsequent B-29 raids.

The city was bombed on 17-18 June 1945 by 314 Bombardment Wing. The distinctive coastline made the city an unmistakable radar target and the defenses were limited to a pitiful 32 heavy antiaircraft guns. The attacking bombers dropped 810 tons of incendiaries, which destroyed 44.1 percent of the urban area.

Kagoshima was the primary objective of Operation OLYMPIC, the planned invasion of Kyushu that was scheduled to take place on 1 November 1945 if Japan had not surrendered by then. The coast south of the city was considered particularly suitable for airfield development.


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Frank (1999)
Madej (1981)

Parillo (1993)

"Reports of General MacArthur" (accessed 2011-8-9)

Tillman (1979)

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