Yamanashi Gokoku Jinja was established in 1879 as a Shintō shrine to remember
persons from Yamanashi Prefecture who lost their lives in wars to protect Japan (gokoku
means "defend country"). The shrine grounds have a monument erected in 1995 to
honor Navy Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) graduates from
Prefecture who gave their lives in battle. Yokaren graduates who died in battle included many members of the
tokkōtai (Special Attack Corps) who carried out suicide attacks
against Allied ships near the end of the Pacific War.
A plaque to the right front of the Yokaren Monument gives the following history of the Yokaren
and the monument's erection:
On June 1, 1930, 79 persons joined the 1st Class of Hikō Yoka Renshūsei
(Preparatory Flight Trainees) at Yokosuka Naval Air Group. After that time
until the end of the Pacific War on August 15, 1945, over 150,000 youths joined 13 Yokaren
Air Groups throughout the country such as the
Yokosuka, Tsuchiura, Mie, Hitoyoshi, Okazaki, and Nara Naval Air Groups.
When the Second Sino-Japanese War erupted on July 7, 1937, Yokaren
graduates displayed their abilities in their first battles in overseas bombing
attacks and at each battle front. Soon after from the start of the Pacific War on
December 8, 1941, as the core of crewmen in the Navy's Air Force they gave
their lives for the country's people and carried out their responsibilities
for the country's defense as far north as the Kurile Islands, south as the
Solomon Islands, and west as the Indian Ocean.
Starting in October 1944, our Yokaren classmates made sorties for special
(suicide) attacks as squadron members not only in the air but also in the
sea with human torpedo kaiten and shin'yō (explosive
motorboat) weapons and as fukuryū (frogmen whose mission was to destroy landing craft
with an explosive charge mounted on top of a wooden pole). They participated
in all operations, and their young lives fell as cherry blossoms. They died
in battle and became spirits to protect the country.
On January 26, 1984, we who returned alive appealed to our classmates who
lived in the prefecture. After we formed the Yamanashi Prefecture Yokaren
Yūhi Association, we continued to remember the spirits of our dead friends
at the Gokoku Jinja.
On the 50th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, we erect the
"Yokaren Monument" here on the grounds of the Gokoku Jinja through
contributions from Association members and other interested persons. We
erect this monument as we pray for security for our country and eternal
peace for the world while we pass on to future generations the remembrance of
the spirits of our departed classmates from this prefecture and their great
August 15, 1995
Yamanashi Prefecture Yokaren Yūhi Association
The following last letters were written by Yokaren graduates from Yamanashi