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History of kamikaze attacks not a heroic story: ex-school teacher

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By Mina Nagao

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impressive!

47 ( +50 / -3 )

This is a positive initiative.

The main reason the imperial military resorted to Kamikaze was because Japanese aircraft had become obsolete and outclassed by Allied aircraft from 1943, while the quality of its pilots had dropped drastically, after the experienced ones were easily shot down in their unarmored and inferior planes. Conventional air warfare had become impossible for the imperial army and navy.

Nothing "glorious" or "heroic" about that, and I doubt that many Japanese today realize that.

37 ( +45 / -8 )

"Saying 'all' was going too far," Yamamoto told Kyodo News in an interview, adding that he was also troubled by what he called the overly dramatic tone of the guide's narrative.

He is right! I once knew an elderly gentleman here in Okinawa, who moved here from mainland. He was one of the last, if not THE last group of young men who were in training, if you want to call it that, to be a Kamikaze pilot, at the end of the war.

He recalled to me that they were ALL scared, and all were being brainwashed into believing that their lives were less important than "saving the Emperor" and dying was the noble and only thing they could do.

He also said it took many years to get over the feeling that somehow he had "failed" and had to deal with those feelings, on his own, as everyone was suffering following the war.

31 ( +35 / -4 )

They were pretty much forced against their will to go.

24 ( +26 / -2 )

Brainwashed, shamed, and threatened. So many young men losing their lives.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

I was fascinated to find that we had a surviving kamikaze pilot at one of the places where I worked. His story was that he landed his plane onto a carrier, and then got out and surrendered. While it is inarguably true that he surrendered, I find it hard to get my head around the idea that he was able to land on an enemy carrier. I have since read that about 10% of pilots attempted to surrender, rather than die. Perhaps that is why, in some films from that period, one can see the canopies of kamikaze planes being welded shut before they took off on their suicide missions.

I also came across an obituary in the New York Times for an American sailor who told his story at Okinawa. He related that it was his job to go out in a life boat and rescue Japanese pilots who intentionally landed their planes in the water, in order to surrender. He said that pilots who surrendered rather than die a fiery death were treated very well.

Of the pilot who worked at the same company where I did, I do not have his name, unfortunately. I know that he died of cancer before he reached 60, and that he worked as a truck mechanic. I have always assumed that he was given asylum here in the States, California to be exact, because returning to Japan might have been a death sentence.

The cliche that my Dad most favored was, "The truth is stranger than fiction."

20 ( +21 / -1 )

A rarity in Japan, someone with the courage to openly question the status quo.

18 ( +57 / -39 )

It wasn’t until about 20 years ago that I learned there were also kamikaze mini submarine missions as well. It must have been truly terrifying for these young mento be stuffed in one and sent to their death.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

As ever, the biggest danger to your own life is from the elites who pretend to have your life and livelihood at heart. There may be some noble exceptions but on the whole they will sacrifice you in a heartbeat to save themselves.

14 ( +39 / -25 )

The Kamikaze were, like brave soldiers on all sides, prepared to sacrifice themselves for their country. Frankly, I agree with historians who argue that Japan lost too many pilots this way and this made Japan a sitting duck for the hellish bombings on its homeland cities that came near the end. Interestingly, the first pilots to intentionally crash or attempt to crash their planes into ships during the Pacific War were the American pilots at the Battle of Midway. This was quite a surprise and impressed the Japanese there who witnessed it.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

It’s great that this guy is daring to stand up to the commonly pushed over simplistic narrative, ( soft propaganda basically ) by introducing some much needed nuance and critical thinking. He may be doing a greater service to his country than he knows. Went down to Chiran Peace Museum a bunch of times on school trips and always felt a bit uneasy about the underlying message on sale. The old fellows doing the tours were wonderful, the letters and photos of the young pilots and the look in their eyes truly haunting, but never again should any country be so willing to sacrifice their sons. It was a sad and wasteful tragedy born about from a cruel and heartless hierarchy. Never again.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

History of kamikaze attacks not a heroic story: ex-school teacher

Well, their bravery and determination would be something that I would define as heroic.

..

“ A former middle school teacher in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, has published a book challenging what he sees as the prevailing tendency to glorify Japanese suicide pilots in World War II. “

Glorification and respect are two different things…; they knew they were going to die and they gave their lives for their country…; millions of people around the world have nothing but respect for the kamikaze…; they were following orders and they loved their country…; people forget that we’re talking about fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year old kids (with their whole lives ahead of them) sacrificing their lives…; again, the key word here is respect…; if you go to Yasukuni Shrine, there’s some wonderful statues that pay respect to these kamikaze, and also widows, children, dogs and horses that died in the war, etcetera…;

but yes, they weren’t “happy” and this excessive dramatization and distortion of reality is something that needs to be corrected, for sure.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Some said he did not fully explain why Japan had needed to adopt the kamikaze strategy

The Kamikaze strategy was not needed. Japan was never in a position to win by that stage. What they needed was leadership that considered reality and that a surrender, negotiated or otherwise would save Japanese lives and end the war a year or more earlier.

while others said he was airing issues that junior high school students were unable to understand.

Junior high students are not imbeciles, and are able to think through topics like this when given all the facts in raw form. If anyone thinks they are unable to understand at that level then the future of Japan is bleak indeed.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I don't really blame the pilots, most were just victims of their government, but that a country can glorify such a thing to this day, even if it was for a good cause (which it was not) is disgusting. People willingly giving up their life without question when they have no idea for what they are fighting for is someone you should strive not to become.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I dont blame the pilots I blame the cowardly officers/generals that gave the orders for them to die for a lost cause

8 ( +9 / -1 )

AT LAST! A Japanese has spoken out to challenge the curious post-war MSM narrative glorifying at worst and normalizing at best the government's reckless Kamikaze campaign.

Yamamoto, a 58-year-old Kagoshima native, has faced criticism for his views...

Just like the little boy who shouted out, "the Emperor has no clothes!", the former educator exposes the consensus version of Kamikaze heroics as just a continuation of the old WW2 propaganda: 美談 (bidan), "beautiful stories" glorifying "self-sacrifice" for the emperor and nation when, in reality, it was a cynical campaign to prolong the war and hide the fact that the leaders of the country knew their war was already a lost cause. Admiral Onishi Takijiro, the author of the campaign, in the end apologized for sending 4000+ young men to their deaths (he actually wanted 20,000,000 more Japanese to sacrifice themselves!) and committed seppuku as penance. After reading books and watching documentaries, I came to the same conclusion as Yamamoto-san decades ago so that whenever I get the chance to expatiate on the Kamikaze with Japanese, I sum up the sorrowful story of the wasted lives of the Kamikaze youth in two words: CHILD ABUSE.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Yamamoto, a 58-year-old Kagoshima native, has faced criticism for his views, but he is convinced that teaching children about "the shadows of history" will help them to think critically.

… help them think critically as normal people would define it or think like a Marxist using “critical theory”

Well, in the absence of detail, who has been criticizing Yamamoto? The ability to think critically will supply an answer: the usual suspects. And who are these "normal people"? Again, critical thinking will help reveal who they are ( clue: the people who vote for dictators and support authoritarian regimes) You don't need to be a Marxist to know which way the wind blows! Yamamoto-san's message to "normal people" seems like common sense to me. I'm ordering his book today.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I have read many accounts of Japanese fighter planes engaging B-29s, so I do not think that it is correct to say that the Japanese planes could not fly as high. Furthermore, looking on the internet, the B-29 had a service ceiling of about 32,000 feet, while the Zero had a service ceiling of 33,000 feet. While Japanese planes did not have pressurized cabins, they did carry oxygen for high altitude flying. There was also the decision by General LeMay to operate the B-29s at lower altitudes, in order to maximize their bomb load. The fire bombing raids were carried out at a nominal altitude of 10,000 feet.

As for the lack of adequate pilot training, there were considerations on the Japanese side that could not be ignored. The high command understood that they had to achieve a quick, decisive victory, or that the war would drag out, and they could not possibly win against the US and its allies. For that reason, it made sense to put as many top pilots on the front lines as possible. For instance, during the Battle of Britain, the RAF was putting new pilots into the front line who had as little as 12 hours of flight time in a modern fighter. Critical circumstances dictated decisions made, in every theatre of the war. The Japanese also had severe shortages of fuel, not just for airplanes, but for everything with an engine, so flight training was difficult for that reason, as well.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I recently read a book called Memoirs of a Kamikaze, as told by surviving kamikaze pilot Kazuo Odachi. His story lines up with what Yamamoto says: they were basically manipulated and cajoled into the task, and were resigned to their fate rather than embracing it with gusto. Although the book rambles a bit, it's worth a read for a look at the mindset of the pilots and their superiors.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

"Dagon" mentioned the use of amphetamines. I think that not enough attention is paid to the practice of giving meth to the Japanese and German soldiers. While this is the first time I have heard about meth being used by the Japanese army, I have read several accounts of meth use in the German army and navy, and I would expect, their Air Force as well.

There was an article a few years ago describing how critical the use of meth was in the German army. For instance, the blitzkrieg against the allies in May of 1940 can be more easily understood when one realizes that meth was used as a force multiplier by the Germans. For the first three days of the attack on the Western Front, their troops did not have to sleep at all, but could be constantly on the attack. This had the effect of doubling the number of troops who could engage their enemy over any 24 hour period. Soldiers who can fight, without sleeping, can fight longer.

It has been mentioned in these comments that it is a horrible waste of humanity to send people to certain death. And yet......that is exactly what is happening today in Eastern Ukraine. Putin is intentionally sending in human waves against the Ukrainian defenders. He is willing to trade thousands of his countrymen's lives for a few yards of territory, territory which in all likelihood will be lost once the Ukrainians are ready to launch their own more competently run offensive.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Anyway, it must to have a lot of bravery and courage to perform a ceremony and get on a plane to crash into the enemy..

no more so than manning an anti-aircraft gun on the deck of a battleship knowing youre directly in the path of the kamikaze

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"Most were drafted as teenagers, barely able to fly. The kamikaze were told that they were gods, heroes, divinely chosen to save their country. They were beaten and brainwashed. Wings of Defeat includes archival footage of officers exhorting their young charges to die.Apr 22, 2008"

https://www.npr.org/2008/04/22/89622063/wings-of-defeat-kamikaze-stories-told-in-person

"They've long been portrayed as brainwashed zealots lusting for destruction, death, and glory. Yet, as Christopher Harding reveals, many kamikazes stepped into the cockpit for the final time wracked with fear, confusion, and anger at their fate..."

Kamikaze pilots are like modern-day Islamic suicide bombers.

https://japantoday.com/category/have-your-say/do-you-think-of-japans-world-war-ii-kamikaze-pilots-as-brave-how-would-you-compare-them-with-todays-suicide-bombers

These were brainwashed kids who died for the Japanese Empire who leader was considered a God very much like the suicide bombers of today. Unlike popular myths they ere not sealed in their cockpits but did it because of fanatical misplaced loyalty.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

He also showed his students testimonies from some "enraged" ex-pilots who said they had "wanted to kill the superior officers" who had proposed the suicide attacks.

I wonder if the stories of "meth chocolates" would alter some of the homilies given to Japan's WW2 soldiers.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220107/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

4 ( +20 / -16 )

He wanted his students to have "the ability to see things from multiple perspectives

The pilots, along with methamphetamine and other incentives were indoctrinated by the false syllogisms of the Japanese militarist industrial complex: That the Empire was victim of Allied aggression, their efforts could turn the tide of the war, and that the result of an Allied victory would be rape, massacre and slavery like in Japanese colonies.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

This man is double plus inspiring. It afraid to go against the experts and authorities to show the truth. We need many more like him to show thee truth.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Yes, there is nothing heroic about war!

why people go to war? Why sacrifice young people who have their whole lives ahead.

A very relevant question these days. (Some answers might be: greed, pride, stubbornness, fear...)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Well.. when a person voluntarily joins a military they have offered their life to defend the country !

You miss the difference between "defending" and committing suicide. No one joins the military with the intent of dying.

What i totally don't agree with was the young okinawans that were forced to become kamikaze pilots against their will. That was truly despicable !

What makes forcing the Okinawan pilots, of which there were very few, as they were not considered "loyal" to Japan, any more despicable than those young men from mainland?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The majority of Japanese civilians were forced into the imperial military during WW2.

The Japanese military indoctrinated their civilian countrymen that the Americans would inflict unlimited atrocities on captured civilians.

"The Japanese armed forces burgeoned in 1945 under urgent mobilization from about 4.5 million men under arms to over 6 million by August. But in March, Japan mustered a vast additional body of combatants: every single male age 15 to 60 and every single female age 17 to 40. This inducted about a quarter or more of Japan’s total population, about 18 to 20 million people. "

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/there-are-no-civilians-japan

Your assumptions are worthless without factual evidence which is absolutely impossible for you to provide anyway.

Just more of your personal insults.

I also served my country and have military experience. People do not join to die and many think or hope they will never be involved in a war.

Kamikaze pilots were brainwashed to do anything they were told.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I once met a former kamikaze pilot in Kyushu around 1980. He was a student in my friend's English class. We were drinking together, and when I heard he was a kamikaze pilot, I naturally asked him why he was still alive. He explained that he was never sent on a mission. He was 19 at the time and he said they tended to send the younger pilots - the 16-year olds. The older boys had a tendency to ditch in the sea with the hope of getting rescued.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Tojo and Hirohito should have led by example!

But we know that would have never happened!

3 ( +17 / -14 )

The Kamikaze were, like brave soldiers on all sides, prepared to sacrifice themselves for their country. Frankly, I agree with historians who argue that Japan lost too many pilots this way and this made Japan a sitting duck for the hellish bombings on its homeland cities that came near the end.

Japan's failure was keeping all of their experienced pilots on the front lines until they were eventually shot down. The US was adamant about limiting the combat exposure of their pilots so they could bring combat experienced pilots back to the US to train up new pilots and pass their lessons along to them rather than take it with them to the grave. That was probably the greatest failing of how Japan managed their air power.

The comment about the supposed inferiority of Japanese fighter aircraft ignores some really excellent fighters like the Nakajima Ki-84, Mitsubishi J2M and Kawasaki K--61.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan is full of beautiful, emotional stories, which do not help at all in the study of history, where it is essential to cast off emotion, our modern way of thinking, and even national identity, and focus like a laser on the evidence.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Chiran is a very beautiful place. It has some of the best green tea. Amazing samurai houses and very friendly people. As a foreigner I was even featured in a local newspaper. Then after a few days, I got hear the stories.

why people go to war? Why sacrifice young people who have their whole lives ahead.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kamikaze is a waste of resources which achieves no tactical purpose or advantage other than terrorizing.

Whoever thought of dying for nothing during a war is not bravery but stupidity.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@1glenn

What an interesting story! Did the aircraft carrier know he was surrendering? It seems like that would be an really big and unnecessary gamble for whoever was responsible to permit an enemy plane to come near an aircraft carrier let alone land on its flight deck.

Anyway, thanks for sharing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No one joins the military to die.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I agree with Kenji Yamamoto.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just shaking my head, at some of the comments here. There is much one could reply to here regarding them, but it would be the same as talking to a wall.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Brainwashed, shamed, and threatened. So many young men losing their lives.

So, are you telling us that this sort of coercion only happened in Japan? Friend, it was universal, always has been, and always will be.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Anyway, it must to have a lot of bravery and courage to perform a ceremony and get on a plane to crash into the enemy..

Lol. Anything for a down vote. It took a bit of brainwashing and sone serious desperation to pilot a plane into the enemy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So, are you telling us that this sort of coercion only happened in Japan? 

Yes, it was unique to Japan. No one had formerly established suicide units. Also, the only soldiers who spent years or even several decades hiding out in foreign jungles refusing to surrender were Japanese.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have been to the Chiran 'Peace' museum. Over the entrance way is a sign saying (words to the effect) 'Arigatou Gozaimasu'. It should say 'Gomen Nai Sai'.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I find very good to hear different opinions about kamikaze and other events. War is generally decided by old men who are unable to discuss and try to reach an agreement in a diplomatic way and sent young people to battle and many die or are injured because of bad leaders that do not make efforts on diplomatic ways to solve conflicts. Convince young people to die killing others is crazy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

 agree with historians who argue that Japan lost too many pilots this way and this made Japan a sitting duck for the hellish bombings on its homeland cities that came near the end.

The B-29s were able to fly higher than any enemy fighter could. They were the only bomber of that era with a pressurized cabin. Only one other aircraft made, a Boeing airliner, had a pressurized cabin. Altitude was their sanctuary. All the training in the world would not have changed that fact.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Don’t be biaised by that article.

Kamikaze attacks and pilots are not glorified in Japan. This is not seen as heroism.

Japanese do rather see it as a pity and tragedy for all those pilots who lost their life and did not have the choice as brainwashed.

Dixit my Japanese wife

, who was only taught the facts while at school and not heroism

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Kamikaze pilots were brainwashed to do anything they were told.

Brainwashed people will volunteer for anything. That is what happens. Volunteering does not mean they were not brainwashed. The entire nation was brainwashed by the Imperial Military.

Anyone who refused, or resisted was imprisoned or even shot.

Brainwashed means they will do anything including dying.

No one joins the military to die.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Anonymous

Brainwashed, shamed, and threatened. So many young men losing their lives.

So, are you telling us that this sort of coercion only happened in Japan? Friend, it was universal, always has been, and always will be.

the article is about Japan/kamikaze.

There were not suicidal pilots in the Allie forces.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I remember reading a memorandum by a veteran IJ pilot reminiscing how he was angry about an order to go suicide attacking of an enemy ship. He thought that with his skills and achievements he could contribute more to the war by an ordinary tactic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Only 19% of Kamikaze attacks were successful. A very poor rate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The fact you think this is only unique to the imperial Japanese forces proves the fact you haven't spent much time reading historical accounts of world history conflicts.

Sorry for jumping in. It looks like a good discussion, but I’m pretty sure, in modern warfare, their is no comparison anywhere of a government utilizing their aircraft and pilots on suicide missions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Landing gear disabled and not enough fuel for a return meant that the goal was for these young men to die,one way or another

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Freedom (of speech) is not free but carries a high price which rational people think twice about before commiting themselves and, frankly, many people simply don’t care.

Very, very few people who go on about freedom of speech actually know what it is. You've been known to post some questionable extremist right-wing views in the past, are you sure you actually know what freedom of speech is?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I was a US Navy pilot and can comfortably state that this story about a Kamikazi pilot landing on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to surrender is a sea story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The kamikazi was only part of what the Japanese military planned to do when the invasion of Japan occurred. The military openly admitted they were ready to sacrifice 100 million to defend their shores. The kamikazi did have a serious psychological impact on Allied troops, especially the Navy. The kamikazi were one of the reasons we used the atomic bomb. The last thing we wanted to do was invade Japan.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

"I asked, 'Then how should I teach them?' In the absence of any answer, saying it is 'impossible' is to cease thought. The role of a teacher is to not run away from the task of continuing to think."

imho, a teacher should only teach facts without any assertion or sentiment and let the children decide how they interpret their own history.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh and Wallace to clarify i served my country but i wasn't in the military.

> Bit too smart for that.

> All due respect for your service.

> Get well soon !

?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most people join the military in peacetime not expecting to go to war. During WW2 most or probably all countries had conscription/draft enlisting. Most didn't volunteer.

Even if people are killed while serving in the military whether inaction or not, they do not expect to die.

All the people in the Japanese military during WW2 were mostly not volunteers and had to join or face prosecutions and possible death.

The imperial forces and the civilian population were brainwashed about what would happen if they were captured by the Americans and the allies.

Many kamikaze pilots crashed their planes into the sea in the hope of surviving.

You don't know how many kamikaze pilots freeing agreed to a suicide flight against those who did it because they were brainwashed.

Not all kamikaze flights ended in a suicide attack. Some failed because of mechanical problems. Some were shot down. Some simply ditched in the ocean.

About 3,800 kamikaze pilots died during the war. How many died from suicide attacks?

The last kamikaze: two Japanese pilots tell how they cheated death

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/11/the-last-kamikaze-two-japanese-pilots-tell-how-they-cheated-death

Sharing true stories of kamikaze pilots with the world

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Society/Sharing-true-stories-of-kamikaze-pilots-with-the-world

"Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a "body attack" (tai-atari) in aircraft loaded with bombs, torpedoes, and or other explosives. About 19% of kamikaze attacks were successful."

"What happens when a kamikaze pilot survived?

Although still not executed, these pilots would receive some sort of punishment, be it physical or mental. These punishments were not to be too severe as the pilot had to be ready for another flight at some point in the future, so nothing that would damage that ability would be performed."

A kamikaze pilot, Yukio Seki (関 行男) returned nine times.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Kamikaze attack was just a stupid idea of war time Japan, a totally madness. Very very few of these attack had achieved a score or hit at an enemy's ship. Most of these Kamikaze pilots ditched into the sea and lost their lives due to be hit by US Navy fire or their planes dived out of control. There was nothing worth to glorified besides they made horror to the enemies. This teacher is a good one, telling the facts that should be told to the young people to realise Kamikaze attack was stupid enough!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan would lose the war, he thought, if she used veteran pilots like him for the mission.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There were no suicide pilot squads in the ally forces.

While suicide missions were never officially part of Allied strategy, there were a number of instances of British, Polish, American, and Soviet pilots sacrificing themselves to destroy enemy targets.

https://militaryhistorynow.com/2014/03/17/one-way-ticket-japans-kamikazes-werent-the-only-suicide-pilots-of-ww2/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The topic of the post is kamikaze and the book written by Kenji Yamamoto. No other nation is mentioned.

The kamikaze was sent out on suicide missions by the fact they had no parachutes and limited range fuel. But many survived and returned.

The Allied forces had no suicide squads even if some of the pilots crashed their planes and died. No one had been brainwashed that they died for king and country, or president and country.

The Japanese troops were told it was an honor to die for the emperor. Many killed themselves rather than be captured because of what they believed would happen to them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinct military uniform."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kiyoshi Ogawa dropped the bomb then didn't pull out of the dive. His attack killed 496 on the Bunker Hill aircraft carrier and put it completely out of action. May 11 1945. If you are interested you can find the whole story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On the subject of joining the armed forces with the intention of dying......I think the topic is a little more nuanced than that. Certainly people thought about death, and realized that they might die because of placing themselves in danger, but that is different from intentionally engaging in a suicide mission, one where the likelihood of dying is close to 100%.

When I was growing up I talked with a lot of veterans, mostly allied, but some from former enemy nations. I asked a lot of questions, and did a lot of listening. I asked one Allied veteran how he coped with the constant knowledge that he could die a violent death. This man fought against the Axis from the very outset of the war in Europe, in 1939. Of the people in his profession, fully 50% were casualties before the end of conflict. The mental strain was awful. It is important to remember that the Allies were basically losing until the spring of 1943. So, this man told me that the way that he dealt with the constant strain was to accept that probably he was going to die. Not a bad leap of logic, considering that most of the people he knew before the war did not survive, and among his friends, very few survived, less than half. Accepting that he would die helped him to cope with the stress. They engaged in missions which had a low likelihood of survival, but none of the missions involved him knowing before hand that intentionally trading his life for carrying explosives into the enemy was part of the bargain. They accepted that they would probably die, but they did not intentionally kill themselves.

Combatants on both sides were very dedicated to their cause, but once they knew they were losing, the IJA, and to a lesser extent the German Luftwaffe, adopted suicide tactics. It was a considered response to a desperate situation. If the Allies had found themselves with the prospect of definitely losing the war, they too might have found suicide tactics acceptable.

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to understand an enemy's motivation, their mindset. That was true for me and my classmates in school when we discussed World War II. I asked the question in the classroom setting of how ordinary Germans could go along with the atrocities their nation committed, and no one had an answer. Eventually I traveled to Germany, partially with the intention of finding out what made them tick. What I found out is that a whole lot of the Germans I met absolutely adored Adolf Hitler. The fanaticism of many ordinary Germans became obvious. Once war started, it was not as important to understand the enemy's motivation, as it was to accept that they were highly motivated. The very ugly truth of war is that the enemy might be just as motivated us you, and maybe even more so. It does not mean that we have to accept their way of thinking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have been a student of WWII in the Pacific since 6th or 7th grade and some of the stories I am reading are not historically accurate I believe.

Number one, I can find no occasion where a Japanese Kamikazi pilot landed on a US aircraft carrier to surrender. That one is a sea story. Nearly all the aircraft employed on Kamikazi missions were older land based models flown by the IJA with no arresting hooks for a carrier landing flown by pilots with no skills landing aboard ship. It's nothing like a runway landing. Many student naval aviators wash out because they can't master a carrier landing.

The claims that landing gear were disabled is not accurate either. A very large proportion of Kamikazi missions had to be aborted after take off due to mechanical problems of the older aircraft being used for these missions and in some occasions missions were aborted due to weather. There are numerous accounts of Kamikazi pilots landing after such an abort.

I also can find nothing to document the claims that some pilots ditched hoping to be picked up by a US ship or aircraft. Experience in WWII shows that even when the US sank a Japanese ship the survivors would refuse to be rescued by the US.

Some Kamikazi units wore parachutes, some did not. it varied by base and by squadron.

If any of you can document some of these claims I would love to see it. I do not mean that to be contrary or cause trouble, but rather to expand my understanding of that conflict.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A good read: «Japan at war : an oral history ». By Haruko Taya Cook and Theodor Failor Cook.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Contrary to LDP / Abe faction / Nippon Kaigi belief, the tokkotai pilots were generally brainwashed, bullied and beaten into going on their missions. There was nothing glorious about it. They should be remembered not for their sacrifices but rather as examples of the dangers of fascism and fanaticism and the horrors of war. They were victims.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very, very few people who go on about freedom of speech actually know what it is. You've been known to post some questionable extremist right-wing views in the past, are you sure you actually know what freedom of speech is?

Me? Not really. You? Extremist left-views? For sure.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Like soldiers following orders

Soldiers putting their lives on the line

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Near the end of the war the Japanese had developed landing gear that would disengage from the underside of the plane.

The story of landing gear sabotage was told to me by a Japanese man in his eighties from Kyushu.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are a few documented occasions of crew members from multi engine bombers used as kamikazis surviving being shot down and rescued but I can find none where a kamikazi pilot landed someplace or ditched near allied forces to surrender.

The great majority of surviving Kamikaze pilots survived because the war ended. Many had departed on suicide missions but were forced to return to base with mechanical problems as they were trained to do then the war ended before they could be sent out again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess the people who are doubting the courage and heroism of the japanese indviduals during world war 2 ,they dont know nothing about the samurai culture impact and influence on japanese culture.

Japanese warriors without a doubt were the most heroic individuals that mankind has ever seen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Respect the soldier, All died for their countries, home and family. Hate their countries politics and hierarchy

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Before kamikaze pilots existed, just after the Pearl Harbor attack and the Japanese fleet’s whereabouts were unknown, American navy pilots were ordered to report any enemy ship sighted and then fly into it.

Kenji Yamamoto is challenging the myths of the kamikaze. One method is education by relating facts concerning the American side of the war.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Awa no Gaijin

   The topic of the post is kamikaze and the book written by Kenji Yamamoto. No other nation is mentioned.

> The article is about Kenji and ww2 and other modern conflicts and not only about the kamikaze

> FYI - that includes all the nations involved !

Where is that in the posted article? That is only your opinion. It is about what Kenji Yamamoto thinks about kamikaze.

The article specifically mentions kenji speaking of other nations conflicts of Korea's , Ukraine and Russia.

Not in relation to kamikaze.

"He has also written extensively on human rights issues and looked into the history of forced labor by Koreans during World War II in the coal mines of Hokkaido and into the issues facing the indigenous Ainu people in Japan's northernmost prefecture. He has also studied the history of how leprosy patients were treated in Japan."

So yes other nations are mentioned and iam most certainly definitely on topic

The headline and the article is kamikaze.

You are all over the place with your comments.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes, in war there are individual suicides. A solder jumps on a grenade to save his fellows. A pilot in the heat of an attack, pilots the plane into the target. Organized suicide tactics are not so common. Japan did them in various ways, the kaiten (suicide human run torpedo), kamikaze corps, underwater patrols with staff/bomb to sink landing craft, Banzai charges, etc. Russia has a history of suicide tactics. Prisoner battalions forced to walk ahead of regular infantry to clear mine fields. Look at Russian tactics in Ukraine. As for Japan in WWII, the senior government and military knew the war was lost after Midway and Tarawa (last place where an American said "The issue is in doubt." The Japanese strategy became "Make it so painful for the Americans that they will negotiate a surrender and Japan can keep the Emperor and Imperial system at any cost." The cost was the suicide mentality. The atomic bombs did not end the war. A 800+ aircraft B-29 raid does more damage than an atomic bomb. The Russian Army entering the war and invading Manchukuo and Northern China got the Japanese to surrender. The Japanese Embassy in Moscow saw how the Russian Army behaved and the Japanese Government preferred Americans in Tokyo. The Japanese government chose a loosing strategy and caused a lot of good men to die for a lost cause.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I would definitely describe organized religious extremists military's as comparable to kamikaze suicide bombers

What?

I though we were talking about WWII?

invalid CSRF

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@newgirlintown

They were pretty much forced against their will to go.

Not really. Yasunori Aoki was a flight instructor in Koichi in 1945. He recalls that one day senior officers requested volunteers for the "Special Attack Corps."

The base pilots were to told to write their names on pieces of paper. If they wanted to go, they put a circle above their name, and a triangle if they didn't want to. Several of his colleagues put triangles. Aoki recalls no coercion during the selection.

He put a circle because he figured no one at the base would survive the war anyway.

See Toland's: "Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire."

Judging from the comments on this thread, few people have read much on this period of history.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

"Some said he did not fully explain why Japan had needed to adopt the kamikaze strategy while others said he was airing issues that junior high school students were unable to understand."

Of COURSE they couldn't understand that! Same as they aren't able to understand Japan's forced sexual slavery, the rape of Nanking, the slaughter of millions of innocents across Asia. But of course they understand the glory of Imperial Japan and should be taught that, as well as every excruciating detail of the atomic bombings (except that none would have occurred if Japan had not attacked Pearl Harbor), how Japan taught modern education and bathing to inferior Asian nations, and how glorious and heroic the suicide bombers -- errr... kamikaze were. And of course, they need to be taught how evil China and other nations are and why they will have no economic future so we can pay other nations for weapons with all of our taxes. But, teaching them that the kamikaze cause may not have been heroic?? How DARE this man!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

If Japan had emerged victorious from WW2 this never would have been written.

Freedom (of speech) is not free but carries a high price which rational people think twice about before commiting themselves and, frankly, many people simply don’t care.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Sadly, Japan's neighbors know about the horrors of Kamikaze pilots.

Only the Japanese do not due to Japan's poor history education.

@TokyoLiving

 it must to have a lot of bravery and courage

It's not a matter of courage, but the fear of being labeled an outcast. You understand how the peer pressure works in Japan, it was the same back in 1944. In other word, saying no wasn't an option. If you insist on saying no, then you were beaten up by naval officers until you say yes.

-4 ( +36 / -40 )

Anyway, it must to have a lot of bravery and courage to perform a ceremony and get on a plane to crash into the enemy..

Like it or not..

So you think the hijackers on 9/11 in NYC in 2001 were brave and courageous?

Mohammed Atta, Hani Hanjour, and Marwan Al-Shehhi were brave and courageous?

WOW!

-4 ( +24 / -28 )

@blue.

Great comments.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I recall Abe wanting the Kamikaze headquarters becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Says it all really.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Teach Japanese children to "think critically", now there's a novel idea.

-7 ( +17 / -24 )

Yamamoto, a 58-year-old Kagoshima native, has faced criticism for his views, but he is convinced that teaching children about "the shadows of history" will help them to think critically.

… help them think critically as normal people would define it or think like a Marxist using “critical theory”

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

It's a relief to have such figures pointing out a different perspective

The only opposition he's going to face is from right wing people, and the unnecessarily proud.

Thank goodness that Japan lost their part in the world war. A cruel, rampant, bullying, racist mob. And towards the end, badly organised. The superior tactics and technology of the allies won

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

He also showed his students testimonies from some "enraged" ex-pilots who said they had "wanted to kill the superior officers" who had proposed the suicide attacks.

There are plenty of testimonies of ex pilots who survived and were interviewed and told THEIR accounts of what happened. MANY said they were pressured or coerced. You can easily see their testimonials on youtube.

When he discussed with students the circumstances of wartime Japan during a special lesson opened to colleagues, he experienced a backlash from some teachers and education critics.

Of course- the post war era saw the Kempeitai and Toko (basically the Japanese Gestapo and Thought Police) become the ministry of Education. So no surprise there.

And they call this country a democracy that protects free speech.

SMEH.

-9 ( +25 / -34 )

It's not good to tell it like it is in many places. The general population will call you a traitor, and, in this case, un-Japanese. Good on him though.

-14 ( +6 / -20 )

Anyway, it must to have a lot of bravery and courage to perform a ceremony and get on a plane to crash into the enemy..

Like it or not..

-35 ( +8 / -43 )

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