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Kamikaze pilot museum in Japan launches online services for remote visitors

This screenshot from a video released by the Chiran Peace Museum shows commentary about the former Imperial Japanese Army's fighter Hayate, on display at the museum in Minamikyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture.

KAGOSHIMA -- A museum in Japan's southwestern island of Kyushu that commemorates young pilots deployed in Japan's suicide attack missions in the final months of World War II has launched an online museum to enable virtual tours inside the facility during the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Chiran Peace Museum in the city of Minamikyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture, took the initiative out of consideration for people unable to physically visit during the "Golden Week" holiday period between late April and early May. The museum stands in a former airfield of the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army.

    The online museum consists of 10-minute footage introducing the facility's layout, plus three 5-minute video clips providing three curators' commentaries on display items. The clips show photographs of suicide pilots and their farewell notes, laid in order of their departure on the attack missions.

    The footage also demonstrates the characteristics of the Imperial Japanese Army fighter Hayate, and a replica of the suicide attack boat Shinyo, which are both on display at the museum. Google Maps' StreetView function also enables a 360-degree view of the facility's interior.

    According to the museum, in a normal year it receives around 400,000 visitors, but the pandemic meant attendance plunged to 140,000 in fiscal 2020.

    Katsunori Higashitarumizu, a 49-year-old museum official, said, "We'd be happy if the online museum could provide an opportunity for people to learn about peace and human lives. I hope people will visit (in person) once the coronavirus crisis is over."

    (Japanese original by Toru Shirakawa, Kagoshima Bureau)

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