The World War II crash site of a military plane carrying Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who masterminded the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, has been re-opened to visitors in Bougainville for the first time after being closed off for more than a decade.
The World War Two site features the wreck of a Japanese Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty’ Bomber which was gunned down by allied forces 18th April 1943. On board the ill-fated flight was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, well-known for being the man behind the Japanese attack and bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941, which was not a strategic priority of the Japanese navy until he agitated for it.. Yamamoto was shot down after American code-breakers found out he was planning to visit troops stationed off Bougainville.
Acces to the Yamamoto crash site is located more than 20 kilometres north of the Buin District near Kokopo village in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and it had been closed due to a land dispute between rival clans.
The site was once a popular site for tourists, however landowner disputes amongst clans caused the place to be shut off until issues were resolved. The area recently reopened, with local tourism operators hoping this year — the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War — would result an increase in the number of international visitors.
Interest in the war strategist and Japanese navy commander is as strong as ever, particularly among the growing number of Japanese tourist travelling to the Pacific to learn more about their military past.
"Yamamoto is the most exalted hero in the imperial Japanese navy's history. And he's been untainted by Japan's defeat, and he's been untainted and any hint of war crimes. He remains a hero in Japan today. Here's a man who thought he knew the American psyche. He thought that by — putting it simply — sinking a few battleships that he would shock the Americans into a negotiated peace. Of course the exact opposite thing happened. Had the Japanese stuck to their strategy, perhaps occupying the Philippines on their way to Malaysia and Singapore, and the areas down south, that they had to have for the oil they needed to break the US embargo. Had they done that there would have been a different US reaction", Mark Stille, US naval historian, tells us on ABC News.