Yokaren Museum - Ōita City
In December 2023, the Yokaren Museum in Ōita City announced that it will be
closing in August 2024 (see "Japan
Archive Museum Commemorating Kamikaze Pilots in Oita to Close its Doors in 2024"
article published by Japan Times by the Yomiuri Shimbun). Items
displayed at the museum will be moved to the Ōita Gokoku Jinja, which plans to
set up an area to display items previously exhibited at the Yokaren Museum.
Yokaren is the shortened name for
the Japanese Naval Preparatory Flight Training Program started in 1930. About 80 percent of
the graduates of the Yokaren died in battle , with many of these being in
suicide attack operations undertaken between October 1944 and August 1945.
Starting in 1943, the Navy drastically increased the number of Yokaren
entrants, and most of these young men were still in training at the end of the
The main Yokaren Museum is located near the former Tsuchiura
Air Base in Ibaraki Prefecture to the northeast of Tōkyō. Kiichi Kawano, who
entered the Yokaren in 1942 and become a member of the kamikaze corps near the
end of the war, visited the main Yokaren Museum in 1970, and he felt then he
would like to make available information on the Yokaren to the people of Kyūshū
(southernmost main island of Japan) who could not easily travel to the main
Yokaren Museum (Ōita-ken Yūhikai 1995, 74, 201). In 1988, Kawano opened a
small museum in the basement of his home not to glorify the war but rather so
that such a tragic war will never happen again where young men in their late
teens had to die for their country and families (Ōita Gōdō Shinbun 1988).
Yokaren Museum in Ōita City displays photos of
Yokaren-trained men who died in kamikaze attacks. The museum director
personally knew these men when he served in the Navy . Although the exhibit
room has several photos about the history of the kamikaze attacks, such as the
first kamikaze squad getting flight instructions, no historical summaries are
provided. The room displays copies of several last letters written by kamikaze
pilots, and there is a small Buddhist altar in memory of the Yokaren men who
died in the war. Visitors can browse an extensive library about World War II,
including many books about kamikaze operations.