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Zen'yōji Special Cadet Pilots Monument
Edogawa-ku, Tōkyō

Students from universities and technical colleges entered the Japanese Army's Special Cadet Pilot program starting in 1943. Over 900 graduates of the this program died in battle during WWII [1], and among these there were 316 pilots who died in special (suicide) attacks [2].

A monument was erected at Zen'yōji Temple in Tōkyō in 1993 to remember those Special Cadet Pilots who died in battle. A black plaque on the monument has the following inscription, which provides history regarding the Army's Special Cadet Pilots and the erection of this monument:

In July 1943 during the final stage of World War II, the then Imperial Army inaugurated the Special Cadet Pilot (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan or shortened to Tokusō) system. Students throughout the country in technical colleges and above received treatment as cadets from the time they entered the Army. It was planned that they would receive short-term training for aviation officers with most becoming aircraft pilots and that this would reverse the unfavorable war situation. Students were stirred to help during this national crisis and responded to this call with a total of 7,000 students entering from the 1st Class to the 4th Class of Special Cadet Pilots.

They endured rigorous training, and many died in battle from those who participated in actual fighting. Especially among those who carried out special attack operations, they became the main force, and many died in battle in skies of the southern seas.

Now that 50 years have passed, the majority of the public has no idea what Tokusō (abbreviation for Special Cadet Pilot) means, and the age of surviving comrades has already passed 70 years. A former classmate and current chief priest of this temple consulted with his fellow classmates about his cherished desire for a memorial for Special Cadet Pilots. Getting their cooperation and support, here is erected the Special Cadet Pilots Monument.

In this place where can be heard the sound of the wind through the celebrated pine tree commonly said to have descended from heaven and considered Japan's best, we pray that the souls of those who died in battle and others who have died afterward may rest in peace. This monument serves as a reminder for you comrades living now to recollect those old days of our youth when we lived our lives with earnestness and sincerity.

November 14, 1993

The last paragraph above refers to the famous black pine tree at Zen'yōji Temple. This 600-year-old tree spreads out over 900 square meters and has been designated a natural monument by the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government.

The following last letters were written by Army Special Cadet Pilots who died in special attacks:

Zen'yōji Temple's renowned pine tree
across from Special Cadet Pilots Monument


1. Based on number of names listed on the back of Army Special Cadet Pilots Monument at Ryōzen Gokoku Jinja in Kyoto City.

2. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990, 358.

Source Cited

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.