Students from universities and technical colleges entered the Japanese Army's
Special Cadet Pilot program starting in 1943. Over 900 graduates of the this
program died in battle during WWII , and among
these there were 316 pilots who died in special (suicide) attacks .
A monument was erected at Zen'yōji Temple in Tōkyō in 1993 to remember those
Special Cadet Pilots who died in battle. A black plaque on the monument has the following
inscription, which provides history regarding the Army's Special Cadet Pilots
and the erection of this monument:
In July 1943 during the final stage of World War II, the then Imperial
Army inaugurated the Special Cadet Pilot (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan or
shortened to Tokusō) system. Students throughout the country in technical
colleges and above received treatment as cadets from the time they entered
the Army. It was planned that they would receive short-term training for
aviation officers with most becoming aircraft pilots and that this would
reverse the unfavorable war situation. Students were stirred to help during
this national crisis and responded to this call with a total of 7,000
students entering from the 1st Class to the 4th Class of Special Cadet
They endured rigorous training, and many died in battle from those who
participated in actual fighting. Especially among those who carried out
special attack operations, they became the main force, and many died in
battle in skies of the southern seas.
Now that 50 years have passed, the majority of the public has no idea
what Tokusō (abbreviation for Special Cadet Pilot) means, and the age of
surviving comrades has already passed 70 years. A former classmate and current
chief priest of this temple consulted with his fellow classmates about his
cherished desire for a memorial for Special Cadet Pilots. Getting their
cooperation and support, here is erected the Special Cadet Pilots Monument.
In this place where can be heard the sound of the wind through the
celebrated pine tree commonly said to have descended from heaven and
considered Japan's best, we pray that the souls of those who died in battle
and others who have died afterward may rest in peace. This monument serves
as a reminder for you comrades living now to recollect those old days of our
youth when we lived our lives with earnestness and sincerity.
November 14, 1993
The last paragraph above refers to the famous black pine tree at Zen'yōji
Temple. This 600-year-old tree spreads out over 900 square meters and has been
designated a natural monument by the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government.
The following last letters were written by Army Special Cadet Pilots
who died in special attacks: