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Niitakayama Nobore 1208 (Hario Wireless Transmitting Station)

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The Hario Wireless Transmitting Station in Sasebo, Japan is believed to have transmitted the attack order for Pearl Harbor, "Climb Mt. Niitaka 1208." Upon its activation in 1922, the station's three 446-ft tall transmitting towers were among the most powerful wireless transmitters in Japan and their intended purpose was to relay messages to the fleet. (Though all the documentation was burned prior to surrender, the Japanese believe this station was used to relay the Pearl Harbor attack order from it's origin, the battleship Nagato, on to Formosa which then made the final relay to the awaiting fleet.)

 

The towers themselves are encased in ferroconcrete for extra strength and durability. The transmitting station was active until 1997, though the towers ceased function long before. Today its a cultural heritage site site because its a fine example of Taisho-era technology and engineering.

 

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Inside a tower; all the original equipment has been removed. Only the skeleton has been left behind.

 

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The transmission building, set in the center of the towers is covered in the greenery that has over overrun most of this facility, giving it a neat abandoned ruins vibe, though the area itself is maintained and monitored by on-site staff.

 

Hario is a good place to see bookends of the war; the towers which helped start it, and a short drive away is the repatriation center museum which is about the hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians who returned through there after the war ended.

 

Here's the article if you're interested:

The Japanese Homefront IV: From the Beginning to the End: Hario Wireless Transmitting Station and Uragashira Repatriation Center Peace Museum

 

 

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Thank you very much for posting these photos and description. For years I heard a (now-deceased) WWII vet friend of mine talk about these radio transmission towers. My friend - pictured- was Billy Jones of Jackson, MS, who served with the 32nd Infantry Division late-war in the PTO. Sgt. Jones ended up on Occupation Duty, part of which included approximately 10 months at Hario (in the Sasebo area) at a "Repatriation Camp" for Japanese POW's who were gathered up from various islands in the PTO and returned home to Japan via Sasebo. Sgt. Jones was a guard at the Repatriation Camp, and in the stories he relayed to me included descriptions of the giant radio transmission towers on the mountains at Sasebo. As you posted. . . Sgt. Jones' story (repeating what he had heard while on Occupation Duty) was that "the order to attack Pearl Harbor was transmitted out to the Japanese fleet via these radio towers." Thus, I was really happy to see your informative post about these same radio towers.

 

Attached is a photo of Sgt. Jones taken in 2016, about 6 months before he passed away. The Type 38 carbine he is holding (on the occasion of him presenting the carbine to me as a gift) was acquired at Hario from the stocks of arms taken from the returning Japanese troops arriving at the Repatriation Center. According to Mr. Jones, the Japanese troops were disarmed "out in the islands" at the point of surrender, but when the Japanese were loaded into the cargo holds of ships for transport to the port of Hario, the surrendered Japanese arms were also loaded on the same ship (albeit locked down in a different cargo hold). Thus, the Japanese POW's and their small arms (rifles, pistols and swords) were transported to Japan on the same ship. After the Japanese POW's were offloaded at Hario and secured in the Repatriation Camp, the small arms were unloaded and transported to a warehouse for sorting.

 

Mr. Jones was involved in this sorting process, where the rifles, sword and pistols were divided up into separate piles. Mr. Jones also helped to search the Japanese POW's as they were being processed into the Repatriation Camp. Per Mr. Jones, on several occasions these POW's were found to be carrying live hand grenades, as well as carrying personal effects taken as souvenirs off of dead or wounded US troops. Specifically, Mr. Jones stated that they found on the POW's "a good number" of American high school and college class rings, "dog tags", jewelry and personal photographs. Mr. Jones stated that any Japanese found in possession of such American items would be taken to interrogation, to try to find out as much information as possible re: where/when/how the Japanese soldier had acquired the items. These items (w/ all available background information that had been gathered) would then be transmitted to a headquarters area, with the understanding that efforts were underway by US military authorities to attempt to return the personal items to the American soldiers' families.

 

Mr. Jones also stated that they were under orders to look for "national treasure" items that would have special cultural significance to the Japanese, i.e. any sort of out-of-the ordinary item including "fancy swords, engraved pistols, etc.", with such items being transmitted off to higher headquarters. Mr. Jones also noted that many Japanese soldiers wore bits and pieces of US military issue equipment, with such use of captured items being a matter of pride for the Japanese soldiers, i.e. boasting of their battlefield conquests.

 

Again, I really appreciate your post and the recollections it triggered re: my now-deceased friend. Also attached is a photo of the two Japanese swords that Mr. Jones acquired from the warehouse of POW surrendered items at the Hario Repatriation camp; his widow gave them to me after his passing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for your comment, I was wondering if anyone was interested in these places over here. I wish I could have met your friend, there's a lot I would have loved to ask him and I love his bring back items. I have a press photo of Japanese civilians being processed through the repatriation center, I'll post it here when I find it. Did you read the article I linked as well?

 

I'm glad to read about how the repatriated Japanese were treated. I've seen very little about the process from the military side, such as on what they were to look for and how soldiers and arms were transported. It's also a complete 180 from how the Japanese treated American prisoners on Bataan, when they were found with Japanese anything, commercial or military items, they were executed on the spot.

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Fascinating place, I did not know it existed. Also, the account of Mr. Jones is equally fascinating and the details of what they did is the small pieces of what history is made of.

I have to comment on the mentioning of US prisoners on Bataan. While many executions and horrible treatments did of course occur, it was not as wide spread as popular history would have us believe, and American or Filipinos found with Japanese things being subject to executions on the spot was not a Japanese policy and only occurred in some individual experiences. Individual accounts have made mention of this, but as so often happens, fact often becomes distorted in history and this is particularly true with regard to the US defeat in the Philippines.

 

CB

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Never made it to the transmission station, however, I did spent some time stationed at the Naval base there in Sasebo. It is one of the few naval bases that still have and use buildings from the old Meiji period Imperial Japanese Navy. So if you ever get a chance to visit the Naval base, you can still see the original buildings and dry-docks that are over 100 years old.

 

Jim


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Sorry for the super late reply, I've seen the dry docks a few times. An interesting note is that Drydock No. 4 is where the battleship Musashi, Yamato's sister ship, was outfitted after being towed from where she was built at the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard. They installed the propellers and rudders.

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Great post. Thank you for posting it.


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GOD Bless Texas And All That Serve Her

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