Operation Bombing of Okazaki

The 'Bombing of Okazaki' by Major General Curtis E. LeMay’s US 20th Army Air Force was part of the strategic bombing campaign waged by the USA against military and civilian targets and population centres during the Japanese home islands campaign in the closing states of World War II (19/20 July 1945).

Although Okazaki was not a major population centre and had no major targets of military significance, it was deemed a worthwhile bombing target as it was a satellite town supporting the important city of Nagoya. The Tokaido main line railway connecting Tokyo and Osaka ran through the city, so it became one of the 57 regional population centres added to the list of possible targets by LeMay in June 1945 following the destruction of Japan’s main cities.

On 19 July 1945, 126 Boeing B-29 Superfortress four-engined heavy bombers of Brigadier General Thomas S. Power’s 314th Bombardment Wing departed from Guam in the Mariana islands group. On this same day, air raids were also launched against Fukui, Hitachi, and Choshi. The B-29 bombers arrived over target at Okazaki after 00.00 on 20 June, and found the target mostly obscured by clouds. Bombing began at 00.52 from an altitude of 12,800 ft (3900 m), and 12,506 incendiary bombs were dropped on the city, destroying most of its centre. The Okazaki city hall survived the attack but then, at 12.30, a flight of Lockheed P-38 Lightning twin-engined fighters strafed civilians queueing at the city hall awaiting emergency medical treatment. The estimated total civilian casualties were 203 people killed, 13 missing and 32,068 injured, with 7,312 houses destroyed and 230 houses partially destroyed. The bombing rendered about one-third of the city’s population homeless. The Imperial Japanese navy’s Okazaki airfield and a large textile plant owned by Nisshinbo were undamaged in the attack, which was aimed solely at the destruction of the city’s civilian population.

A year after the war, the United States Army Air Forces’s Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific War) reported that 32.2% of the city had been destroyed.