The Kamikaze was the forerunner of the Islamic suicide bombers of today
The Japanese word Kamikaze' is usually translated as "divine wind" (kami is the word for "god", "spirit", or "divinity", and kaze for "wind"). The word kamikaze originated as the name of major typhoons in 1274 and 1281, which dispersed Mongolian invasion fleets.
Commander Asaiki Tamai asked a group of 23 talented student pilots, all of whom he had trained, to volunteer for the special attack force. All of the pilots raised both of their hands, volunteering to join the operation. Later, Tamai asked Lieutenant Yukio Seki to command the special attack force. Seki is said to have closed his eyes, lowered his head and thought for 10 seconds, before saying: "Please do appoint me to the post." Seki became the 24th kamikaze pilot to be chosen. However, Seki later wrote: "Japan's future is bleak if it is forced to kill one of its best pilots. I am not going on this mission for the Emperor or for the Empire... I am going because I was ordered to!" During his flight, his commanders heard him say "It is better to die, rather than to live as a coward."
When the volunteers arrived for duty in the corps there were twice as many persons as aircraft. "After the war, some commanders would express regret for allowing superfluous crews to accompany sorties, sometimes squeezing themselves aboard bombers and fighters so as to encourage the suicide pilots and, it seems, join in the exultation of sinking a large enemy vessel." Many of the kamikaze pilots believed their death would pay the debt they owed and show the love they had for their families, friends, and emperor. "So eager were many minimally trained pilots to take part in suicide missions that when their sorties were delayed or aborted, the pilots became deeply despondent. Many of those who were selected for a bodycrashing mission were described as being extraordinarily blissful immediately before their final sortie."
The Kamikaze pilot's manual told pilots never to close their eyes. This was because if a pilot closed his eyes he would lower the chances of hitting his target. In the final moments before the crash, the pilot was to yell "Hissatsu" at the top of his lungs which roughly translates to "kill without fail".
THE ROOTS OF KAMIKAZE
In 1944-45, the Japanese were heavily influenced by Shinto beliefs. Among other things, Emperor worship was stressed after Shinto was established as a state religion during the Meiji Restoration. As time went on, Shinto was used increasingly in the promotion of nationalist sentiment. In 1890, the Imperial Rescript on Education was passed, under which students were required to ritually recite its oath to offer themselves "courageously to the State" as well as protect the Imperial family. The ultimate offering was to give up one’s life. It was an honor to die for Japan and the Emperor. Axell and Kase pointed out: "The fact is that innumerable soldiers, sailors and pilots were determined to die, to become eirei, that is ‘guardian spirits’ of the country. Many Japanese felt that to be enshrined at Yasukuni was a special honour because the Emperor twice a year visited the shrine to pay homage. Yasukuni is the only shrine, deifying common men, which the Emperor would visit to pay his respects". Young Japanese people were indoctrinated from an earliest age with these ideals.
HOW THE AMERICANS THINK OF KAMIKAZE
Most Americans perceive kamikaze pilots as faceless, lacking individual personalities. Lack of knowledge about kamikaze pilots has caused many Americans to speculate about their motivations, so many believe they were fanatical, suicidal, or forced to make attacks. Many people know little or nothing about the history of Japan's kamikaze corps, but they form their images of the pilots based on the Anglicized word "kamikaze," which has come to signify anyone having reckless disregard for personal welfare. Current terrorist suicide bombings have provoked comparisons to attacks made by Japan's kamikaze.
JAPANESE PEOPLE'S VIEW OF KAMIKAZE
WHAT THE KAMIKAZE PILOTS THOUGHT OF THEIR ACT
Lieutenant Suga Yoshimune
"Life has now become for me a true pleasure, - he said. - What a joyous spring it has become for us - those who are included in the [Special shock] compound: a much warmer and softer than the sad outside world!"
Captain Miyazaki stood quietly and solemnly, but finally, unable to hold back any longer, stepped forward and said: "Please take me with you, Admiral."
Ugaki firmly replied: "Do you have more than enough cases here. You stay."
For Miyazaki, this refusal was too strong blow. He remained standing, but broke into sobs, weeping openly and without shame, while the others passed.
When Sei Watanabe said, just two days before he was to go for a suicide attack on Ulithi, that the war had ended, and he will soon be able to safely return home, "I cried and felt insulted.I was deprived of death. "
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