Ehime Gokoku Jinja is a Shintō shrine that honors persons from Ehime
Prefecture who died in battle to protect Japan. The grounds around the shrine,
located in Ehime Prefecture's capital city of Matsuyama,
have several monuments in memory of groups or individuals who died in wars
including one erected in 1989 to honor Navy Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training
Program) graduates from Ehime Prefecture who gave their lives for their country.
These Yokaren graduates who died in battle included many members of the Special
Attack Corps who carried out special (suicide) attacks near the end of the war.
The Ehime Gokoku Jinja Yokaren Monument has an engraved plaque in front with the following history:
The beginning of the Yokaren was 1930. The Japanese Navy had expectations
of strengthening air power, and it founded the Naval Yokaren system to train
youths to be airmen. It came to life when 79 rosy-cheeked innocent youths of
only about 15 years of age joined the Yokosuka Naval Air Group as the
The Yokaren only had a short history of more than 10 years until the day
that the imperial decision [ending the war] came down in August 1945, but
there were 24 training classes with 71 thousand trainees.
During this period these young men aspired to be aircraft crewmen with
firm resolve to protect the country. They joined air groups in large
numbers as Hikō Yoka Renshūsei (Preparatory Flight Training Program
trainees). They endured well the rigorous and severe training to acquire the
basics to be aircraft crewmen. They left their nest for the skies and
achieved expected results.
With the eruption of the China Incident in 1937, airmen from the Yokaren
enjoyed the honor of the first campaign by taking part in the triumphant
overseas bombing. They became well known and successful with their actions. During the Pacific War, they took part in the beginning of hostilities at
Hawaii and off Malaya as sea eagles known throughout the world. As literally
the core of the Naval Air Corps, they were taught to have a noble spirit in
which they engaged in intense air warfare, built up the Yokaren spirit
following naval tradition, and sacrificed their lives.
During the height of the fighting, our brothers fought fiercely for our
country's survival as they spread their wide wings in faraway seas at the
end of the skies. They invariably fought with all their might as crewmen on
the battlefront that extended to the South Pacific, Middle Pacific, faraway
Indian Ocean, and bitterly cold Aleutians. They performed brilliant exploits
and distinguished themselves in battle as they fought bravely and fiercely.
When the war situation grew critical at the time of decisive battle, our
brothers all decided on tokkō (special attacks) and smiling gave their lives
for an eternal cause as they earnestly hoped for the country's prosperity
without asking for any compensation.
More than 40 years have already passed. If we close our eyes, we can
vividly see in our minds their noble figures with rosy cheeks. There are 110
spirits in heaven from Ehime Prefecture. With true sincerity we erect a
monument here as we pray that these spirits may rest in peace under the
green pines on the grounds of this Shintō shrine.
October 15, 1989
Ehime Prefecture Yokaren Yūhi Association
The following last letters were written by Yokaren graduates from Ehime