The first place we'll glance at (and this is a glance - not an in-depth examination) is the Ōfuna camp, also known as the 横須賀海軍警備隊植木分遣隊 and pronounced as the Yokosuka Kaigun Keibitai Ueki Bunkentai.
Now... technically this was not called a 'camp', but rather the Navy Yokosuka Guard Unit Ueki Detachment (per above). The image above was taken long after the camp was liberated, falling into a bit of disuse.
Located outside of Yokohama in Kamakura, this camp was special in that it was run by the Imperial Japanese Navy rather than the Army.
At Ōfuna, the camp was a temporary holding facility for foreign officers and high-valued enlisted men, such as pilots or submarine personnel. After capture and transfer to Ōfuna, the POWs were interrogated and then held at the facility for an average of eight days (though in some instances the poor devils had to stay there for months) before being transferred elsewhere.
Opened on April 26, 1942, almost right from the get-go the Ōfuna camp was in violation of the Geneva Convention… as it was never OFFICIALLY reported as a POW camp, and they did not allow the Red Cross access to those interned.
In Japan's defense, they claimed it was only a temporary holding facility and NOT a POW camp, but I'm betting those POWs who were there would beg to differ.
After the war, the War Crimes tribunal did not agree, however, with Japan's claims, and sentenced Japanese camp Commander Sashizo Yokura (surname first) to 25 years of hard labor.
Ōfuna was NOT a fun place to be - especially since it flew under the radar of the Red Cross and Geneva Convention… but reports indicate that the facility—formerly an elementary school that was refurbished - consisted of three one-story, unpainted wood buildings with tar paper roofs that were connected to each other, with a long corridor in the middle and thirty rooms on each side, cells, basically, each about 6 x 9 feet (1.83m x 2.74m).
Each room provided a single electric light, a bunk, bamboo mat and a door with a small window.
Considering the number of bunks, there was only two toilets and one shower…
Nicknamed 'Torture Farm' by the POWs, Ōfuna's camp counselors intimidated and tortured POWs to get information.
Apparently the place was such a secret establishment that not even the locals knew what was going on there…
What sort of torture went on?
Well… we all know that code of only captured individuals only divulging one's name, rank and serial number? That just got you a beating with a wooden club. The same with lying or refusing to answer, or 'disrespecting' an interrogator.
POWs said the Japanese there were sadistic - they enjoyed beating the prisoners… of course they were... I'm just saying that if you are involved in torturing people for information, you probably ARE sadistic - especially chosen to extract information for people who don't want to give it up.
Ōfuna is believed to have seen 1,000 POWs pass its gates during the time it was open, with six dying while in captivity.
Did they die while being interrogated or because of the 500 calorie-a-day diet consisting of a little rice and soup and then being forced to do daily exercises?
When Ōfuna was liberated on August 21, 1945, it was still holding 126 American and nine British POWs.
So… after the war, rather than tear down the facility because it was a horrible reminder of its actions during WWII, the Ōfuna buildings were refurbished and used as a kindergarten until it was finally demolished in 1969, 25 years after the last POW walked out its oppressive shadow.
Now… shock and awe aside, I understand WHY the facility was used as a school after the war… it was a facility, and it was a standing facility… if it could be re-used, Japan - with the urging of the U.S. who essentially ran the country when the war concluded - did indeed reuse it.
I doubt any of the kids who went to the school knew what the building's purpose was during the early 1940s…
If you are looking for the area the camp was situated on, basically it was opposite someplace called the Ryuho temple, which still stands. The area is now a large housing development.
The image above purports to show prisoners from Ōfuna being bowed to by their captors after being liberated. I still say this is a propaganda photo...
Anyhow... if you all paid attention, there was a huge film called Unbroken (and a book) based on American Lt. Louis Zamperini whose bomber crashed into the Pacific in May of 1943 only to be captured by the Japanese and interned at Ōfuna through 1944.
Next up... a POW camp and baseball.