World War II Japanese fighter pilot Sugiura Shigemine is worshiped as a god for his sacrifice in Tainan
By: Keoni Everington, Taiwan News, Staff Writer
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A small temple in a quiet neighborhood of Tainan holds an unusual secret — a
shrine dedicated to a fallen Japanese fighter pilot from WWII who sacrificed himself to save the area’s residents and has since been deified.
During World War II, Taiwan was a major hub for the Japanese military’s South Pacific campaigns, and so it eventually became a target of allied bombings as they sought to tighten the noose on the remnants of the Empire of Japan. On the morning of Oct. 12, 1944, aircraft of the U.S. Third Fleet began bombing the area in Tainan where the temple now stands because it was next to a major military installation used by the Japanese.
Sugiura Shigemine, a 20-year old Japanese fighter pilot, flew his Model 32 Zero to engage the American warplanes in an effort to defend his base against superior numbers. During the course of the battle, his aircraft was struck by allied fire, and it began to hurtle toward the small coastal town. Instead of ejecting and parachuting from his aircraft, he chose to stay inside the plane to steer it away from the village.