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Kagoshima Gokoku Jinja Yokaren Monument
Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture

Kagoshima Prefecture Gokoku Jinja is a Shinto shrine to remember those persons from Kagoshima Prefecture who died to protect Japan. The shrine has various monuments in memory of those who died in wars, including the Yokaren Monument (at right) and Special Attack Corps Monument.

The Japanese Navy established the Yokaren in 1930 as a preparatory flight training program. The Kō program of study started in 1937 for graduates of junior high school. The Navy Yokaren also had Otsu, Hei, and Toku Otsu courses of study.

The left-hand plaque behind the monument provides the following history:

Navy Kō Hikō Yoka Renshusei
(Navy Kō Preparatory Flight Training Program Trainees)
Monument for War Dead from Kagoshima Prefecture

Even now we think of you who left us the words "I go before you, take care of the rest," resolutely made sorties with pure smiles, and never returned.

From the Sino-Japanese War (1937) through the Pacific War (1945), the Navy carefully selected trainees from volunteers throughout the country who had graduated from junior high school under the old system in order to train them in a short period to be Navy flight officers and crewmen. These superior young men became Kō Yokaren trainees.

They entered various air groups such as those at Yokosuka, Tsuchiura, and Kagoshima in Classes 1 to 16. The young men who received rigorous training as pilots and navigators cultivated their sea eagle spirits, flew to the skies, raced across the ocean, dove into the seas, or become members of the Special Attack Forces. They sacrificed their own precious lives for the country's peace and security.

We must never repeat again that tragic war.

Kō Yokaren trainee survivors, who are remaining cherry blossoms, and bereaved family members, with kind cooperation from supporters, erect a monument here with the desire to have eternal world peace and to pass on to future generations the history of the Kō Yokaren and with prayers that the more than 240 men from Kagoshima Prefecture may rest in peace.

November 1, 1995
Kagoshima Prefecture Kō Yokaren Trainee Survivors
and Bereaved Family Members

The left-hand plaque continues on with the following explanation of meanings for the monument's shape and colors:

Monument Explanation

The entire main monument is shaped like an egg divided in half, and it can be supposed that half is buried in the ground. The egg shape indicates birth and resurrection of life, harmony and stability, and eternal peace.

The granite with a cherry blossom color signifies our young comrades who fell like cherry blossoms. The white-colored granite denotes surviving Ko Yokaren trainees who console their spirits by embracing our fallen comrades with both arms.

In the pink color are their young lives, filled with courage and kindness, that perished so early. In the white are our true feelings, thinking of the dignity of their deaths, as we are eternally bound together with our unchanging comrades.

Also, we Yokaren trainees shed tears as we look up to the places with no name called the "sky" where we fought, were wounded, lost our lives, or survived. The front of the pink granite faces up as if always looking up toward the sky.

Kagoshima Kō Yokaren Association

The right-hand plaque behind the monument lists the names of donors for erection of the Yokaren Monument.

The following last letters were written by Yokaren graduates from Kagoshima Prefecture:

Kamikaze pilot of Kagoshima
Special Attack Corps Monument

In 2007, the Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association and the Association to Pass On the Japanese Spirit (Nihonjin no kokoro o tsutaeru kai) erected a Special Attack Corps Monument next to the Yokaren Monument in order to honor the young men who died in special (suicide) attacks during WWII. The monument has a bronze figure of the front half of a kamikaze pilot standing on a stone pedestal.

The large characters on the plaque on the monument pedestal say "Ā tokkō" (Ah, Special Attacks). The plaque on front also has in small characters the following statement: "We certainly will never forget you."

Similar monuments have also been erected at Ehime Gokoku Jinja, Fukui Gokoku Jinja, and Setagaya Kannon Temple in Tokyo.

Kagoshima Prefecture Gokoku Jinja