Japan uses virtual reality to preserve wartime memories

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Japan uses virtual reality to preserve wartime memories

U.S. warships approach a sandy beach to allow its forces to come ashore in a scene from a virtual reality video of the Kanehama coast landing in Kagoshima Prefecture in 1945. As the generation that witnessed World War II is fast fading into history, local authorities have turned to virtual reality to preserve images of local military sites from that era as well as memories of residents who lived through the conflict.

Three bases were used by imperial forces during the war in Kanoya city in southern Japan. It also hosted a kamikaze suicide squad.

Officials said their aim is to give postwar generations tangible evidence of the horrors of war that allows them to reflect on the lasting value of peace in the hope that history does not repeat itself.

Many of the wartime survivors are now too frail to hand down accounts of their experiences of those dark times more than seven decades ago, and city officials decided to act as numbers of wartime survivors are dwindling.

A Kanoya city official said that they wanted people to visit the former sites to learn what they looked like in the past days.

Kanoya has a lot of war related sites, while Minami-Kyushu is best known for its Chiran Peace Museum in Kagoshima Prefecture.

During the war, it hosted bases called Kasanohara, Kanoya and Kushira.

More than 900 kamikaze pilots flew from the Kanoya base on suicide missions toward the end of the war, more than any other facilities in Japan.

Three virtual reality movies depict the Imperial Japanese Navy's Kushira and Kasanohara bases as well as Kanehama beach, where U.S. occupation forces came ashore after Japan surrendered in August 1945.

The video footage was created by using present-day landscapes as well as recollections of survivors and depictions from official documents. The QR code is set up at each location to allow for on-site viewing.

Six U.S. Navy vessels appear in Kagoshima Bay and come close to shore to allow bulldozers and soldiers to make landfall, according to the video of the Kanehama beach landing.

One centering on the Kushira base depicts a suicide unit departing from the base and a communications officer receiving a message in a dugout by telegraph from a pilot on a suicide mission.

All the materials were developed based on peace lessons offered by local volunteer guides, the city's historical records and the wartime experiences of residents.

Some scenes from the VR videos are available on the municipality's website at https: www.city.gov.