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Wakayama Gokoku Jinja Yokaren Monument
Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama Gokoku Jinja is a Shintō shrine dedicated to persons from Wakayama Prefecture who died in wars to defend Japan. The Yokaren Monument is one of several monuments at Wakayama Gokoku Jinja, located in the park surrounding Wakayama Castle in Wakayama City.

Yokaren is the abbreviated Japanese name for the Navy's Preparatory Flight Training Program, which started in 1930 and greatly expanded from 1943 until the end of WWII. Many Yokaren graduates died in suicide attack operations carried out near the end of the war.

On the left side of the base of the Yokaren Monument, a black plaque with white engraved characters has the following wording:

The Navy's Hikō Yoka Renshūsei (Flight Preparatory Training Program Students), or Shōnen Hikōhei (Youth Pilots), became known by the shortened name of Yokaren. The program's aim was to provide early training for gifted youths to become aircraft crewmen. From 1930 when this system started until the end of the Greater East Asia War, youths during training aspired to wear the seven buttons each with a cherry blossom on an anchor. On the basis of superior skills, an enthusiastic attack spirit, and a noble spirit of self-sacrifice, they endured training day and night and left the nest for the air.

After the first overseas bombing campaign as sea eagles during the China Incident, their fearsome reputation spread throughout the world based on aerial attacks off the coasts of Hawaii and Malaya at the war's outbreak as they formed the core of our country's air power. As the war situation indicated the odds were against them and as the enemy approached our mainland, they turned themselves into bombs and were destroyed for an eternal cause. Sparing neither their bodies nor their lives, they gave their lives along with special (suicide) attack planes during an unprecedented national crisis.

Praying for eternal peace and security for their country, they had to die in battle. We Yokaren graduates, praying that the spirits of these heroes may eternally rest in peace, erect this monument and dedicate it to their spirits so they may sleep in the skies.

November 3, 1969
Wakayama Prefecture Yokaren Association

The following last letters were written by a Yokaren graduate from Wakayama Prefecture who died in a special attack:

Plaque with three Yokaren symbols
(wings, anchor, and cherry blossom)
in front of monument's center black stone tablet