YOKOHAMA, Japan – On a hillside overlooking an athletic field where high school students play volleyball, an inconspicuous entrance leads down a dusty, slippery slope — and seemingly back in time — to Japan’s secret Imperial Navy headquarters in the final months of World War II.
Here, Japan’s navy leaders made plans for the fiercest battles, including those of Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa from late 1944 to the war’s end in August 1945. They knew when kamikaze pilots crashed to their deaths when signals from their planes stopped. They cried when they monitored cables from officers aboard the famed battleship Yamato as it came under heavy U.S. fire and sank off southern Japan.
Today, the barren, concrete tunnels sit quietly underneath a high school and university campus, largely untouched and unknown, occasionally visited by guided tours for the students. . . .