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Hakuo Memorial Monument
Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Ryozen Gokoku Jinja is a shrine in Kyoto dedicated to those who died to "protect the country" (gokoku in Japanese). The jinja has several monuments to remember those who died in wars, including this monument put up by the Hakuo Bereaved Families Association to honor Navy Flight Reserve Students who lost their lives in WWII. Ryozen Gokoku Jinja has a separate monument to honor Army Special Cadet Pilots who died in battle, including many who made suicide attacks.

Although called a monument, the Hakuo Memorial Monument is actually a plaque on a long wall of a larger monument to remember specific groups and individuals who died in the Pacific War. The word hakuo in Japanese means "white seagulls," which represent the pilots who died. The monument has an abstract depiction of seagulls flying up into the air.

The plaque has the following inscription:

Tribute to Spirits of Navy Flight Reserve Officers from Schools Who Died in Battle

The Greater East Asia War reached a point when decisive air battles would determine the fate of our homeland. Graduates of universities, high schools, and technical schools under the old educational system and students studying there bravely volunteered to become Navy Flight Reserve Students to protect their hard-pressed homeland and fellow countrymen. They went from schools to decisive battles in the skies.

They endured rigorous training for a short time, fought with intelligence and bravery as flight squadron leaders, and 2,485 died where clouds drift in faraway skies. Among these, 85% (658 men) of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps crewmen who were officers were Naval Flight Reserve Officers.

Even though the students felt the contradictions of war, they believed with heart and soul in security for their country and peace for their families. They left the words, "we rely on our successors." Their fighting spirit, which rose above life and death, is a guide to those who now have responsibility for this country. In order to pass down to future generations these historical facts filled with such great sorrow, surviving classmates gathered together and formed the Hakuo Bereaved Families Association as representatives of the Navy's air groups. With deep mourning, today we erect the Hakuo Memorial Monument with the desire that the spirits of the war dead will be remembered forever. It represents our prayer for world peace.

May 27, 2001
Hakuo Bereaved Families Association

A framed paper version of the Ryozen Gokoku Jinja plaque hangs on an exhibition room wall at the Yushukan Museum at Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo. The Yushukan Museum version looks exactly the same, except the date on the bottom is July 13, 2002.