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Youth Pilots' Memorial Column
Musashimurayama City, Tokyo Prefecture

The grounds of Zenshoji Temple have an unusually shaped column to honor Army Youth Pilot Program graduates who died in battle. The plaque on the wall behind the column gives the following explanation of the monument's purpose along with the history behind it:

The Army Youth Pilot system began with its 1st Class in February 1934 at the Tokorozawa [1] Army Flight School.

In 1938, due to expanding demand of the Army Air Force, the Tokyo Army Flight School was established in Murayama [2], and the 6th Class started at the school. In addition, Army Youth Pilot schools were established in Otsu and Oita, and training corps were formed in each place for hurried training. Forty-six thousand young eagles left the nest through the 20th Class at  war's end.

As the backbone of the Army Air Force's piloting, communications, and maintenance, they went through the China Incident [3] and the Nomonhan Incident [4] and took part in the Greater East Asia War. They actively participated, risking their lives, at the battlefront of the skies north and south during the crisis threatening the survival of Japan. Over four thousand five hundred young eagles, including over four hundred fifty special attack force members [5], gave their lives in the sky with concern for the peace and prosperity of their country. They were still rosy-cheeked teenagers.

In 1963, a monument was erected on the site of the Tokyo Army Youth Pilot School. Since then, every year survivors gather together for a memorial service. Now, based on the care of these people, a memorial column has been erected at this spot hoping for eternal repose of the departed.

This memorial honors the great achievements of the war dead and embodies our hope for eternal peace.

October 10, 1990

Graduates of Army Youth Pilot Training Program
Youth Pilot Association

Each support for the railing around the column has engraved on it the name of one of the twenty classes that graduated from the Army Youth Pilot Training Program. 

Notes

1. Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture is directly north of Musashimurayama City, located west of Shinjuku and on the northern edge of the center part of Tokyo Prefecture. 

2. Murayama was the name of the village where the flight school was located in 1938. The area became part of Musashimurayama City in 1970. 

3. The China Incident is the term used in Japan to refer to the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945.

4. The Nomonhan Incident is the term used in Japan to refer to the Battle of Halhin Gol in the undeclared 1939 war between Japan and the Soviet Union over the location of the border between Japanese-occupied Manchuria and the Soviet Union.

5. Although the Navy used the term "kamikaze" to refer to most of their pilots who carried out suicide attacks, the Army did not use this name to refer to their suicide pilots. The general term used in Japanese to refer to men who committed suicide attacks in World War II is "special attack force members" (tokubetsu kougeki taiin, often shortened to tokkoutai).