Kagawa Gokoku Jinja Yokaren Monument
Zentsūji City, Kagawa Prefecture
Kagawa Gokoku Jinja is a Shintō shrine founded in 1898 to remember more than
from Kagawa Prefecture who died to defend Japan. The shrine has several
monuments in memory of those who died in wars, including the Navy Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) Monument.
The Navy established the Yokaren's Kō program of study in 1937 for graduates
of junior high school. Many Navy Yokaren graduates died as members of the
Special Attack Corps (tokkōtai), which made suicide attacks against enemy
ships toward the end of WWII. In 1995, the Kagawa Prefecture Kō Class Yokaren Association erected a
monument at Kagawa Gokoku Jinja with the following inscription:
The Japanese Navy, which was the aspiration of young men burning ardently
with patriotism, founded the Tsuchiura Naval Air Group on the shore of Lake
Kasumigaura for the purpose of early training of first-class aircraft
crewmen. When the war situation became critical, naval air groups were
established throughout the country.
From the founding of the Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) to
the end of the Pacific War, it was a short history of eight years.
Rosy-cheeked, endearing youths around 16 years old, filled with longing for
the skies and deep-felt sentiments of patriotism, volunteered to join the
air groups. They cultivated their minds and hardened their bodies. They left
their nests for the skies after they went through the flight training program
during which they honed their skills.
They triumphed in their first battle at the China Incident and became the
core of the Navy's air power both in name and substance during the Pacific
War. They took off from aircraft carriers or land bases and commanded the
skies throughout the Pacific Ocean at the beginning of the war.
As war clouds moved closer and closer to our homeland, they carried out
taiatari (body-crashing) attacks from the skies and seas as members
of the Special Attack Corps (Tokubetsu Kōgekitai).
Eighty percent of Yokaren graduates, including more than 120 from Kagawa
Prefecture, died in battle for their country's security, their people's
survival, and their family's wellbeing. Not waiting until reaching full
maturity, they became spirits of our country.
The Shōwa Era (which ended in 1989) has already passed. Giving thanks
that this time now has peace, we can now take pride in the world of the Heisei
Era. Our country has developed into a major economic power, and we celebrate our
prosperity and peace. As we pray for eternal peace and for repose of the
souls of Yokaren trainees from Kagawa Prefecture who became a
cornerstone for today's Japan, we Yokaren trainees who survived and other
volunteers erect this monument fifty years after the end of the war.
May 27, 1995
Kagawa Prefecture Kō Class Yokaren Association survivors and other
A plaque to the right of the Yokaren Monument lists the
names of about 175 persons who made donations for the monument's erection.
The following last letters were written by Yokaren graduates from Kagawa
Small museum at Kagawa Gokoku Jinja
The shrine grounds have a small museum with many exhibits such as
wartime photographs, uniforms, flags, and letters. The items on display include several
related to Special Attack Corps members from Kagawa Prefecture who died in
suicide attacks. There are photos on the wall of Flight Chief Petty Officer Sueo
Takeyasu. On June 28, 1945, he piloted a Type Zero Observation Seaplane (Allied
code name of "Pete") in a special attack from Koniya Air Base on the island of
Amami Ōshima after he had flown there from Ibusuki Air Base at the southern end
of Kyūshū. He was 21 years old when he died as a member of the Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps Kotohira Suitei Squadron from Fukuyama Air Group. A display case
has the story and photographs of Army First Lieutenant Mitsuru Ogawa, who was
from Zentsūji City in Kagawa Prefecture. He flew a Type 99 Assault Plane on a
special attack from Kuroiso in Tochigi Prefecture on August 13, 1945. He was a
member of the 201st Kamiwashi (Divine Eagle) Squadron formed at Nasuno Airfield
in Tochigi Prefecture. A display case also contains photos and the story of Army
Second Lieutenant Kazuhiko Ishikawa, who was named leader of the 62nd Shinbu Special Attack
Squadron. However, on April 3, 1945, he died at the age of 30 years old
before his squadron could carry out its special attack when his plane crashed in heavy fog on a flight from Ozuki Air Base in Yamaguchi
Prefecture to Tachiarai Air Base in Fukuoka Prefecture. His widow, Fusae
Ishikawa, after the war's end wrote a couple of books about her husband that are
on display at the museum.
Torii gate of Kagawa Gokoku Jinja