Hakuō Memorial Monument
Kyōto City, Kyōto Prefecture
Ryōzen 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 Hakuō Bereaved Families Association to honor Navy Flight Reserve Students
who lost their lives in WWII. Ryōzen 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 Hakuō 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 hakuō 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
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 Hakuō Bereaved Families Association as
representatives of the Navy's air groups. With deep mourning, today we erect
the Hakuō 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
Hakuō Bereaved Families Association
A framed paper version of the Ryōzen Gokoku Jinja plaque hangs on an
exhibition room wall at the Yūshūkan Museum at Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo. The
Yūshūkan Museum version looks exactly the same, except the date on the bottom is
July 13, 2002.