I thought this article interesting on kamikazes during WWII.  It also pretty much parallels my thoughts on what type of young man may have trained to be one.


Source unknown

While countless atrocities were committed, I strongly believe that especially in the latter stages of the war, say late 1943-on, not all Japanese soldiers and sailors were crazed devils. Professional military personnel had been whittled away by the thousands by that time.  Replacements were replacements: they were drafted like millions of our boys: grocery clerks, farmhands, carpenters, etc., but not as well trained as our military were.

Possibly taken at his Fukuyama training grounds.  If so, this is where my Aunt Michie and cousin Masako took him a prized delicacy - sashimi.
My dad’s youngest brother, standing in the middle. Possibly taken at his Fukuyama training grounds 1943.

I do feel that these young Japanese soldiers and sailors were much like our boys under the stress of combat.  They griped about the monotonous chow (or absence thereof) like Old Man Jack.  The heat and humidity in the harsh jungle environments wore them down just like ours – likely worse due to lack of supplies – and took its toll on morale.

I stress again I am not condoning the inhuman acts.  I just wish to present a possibly different view on our Japanese adversaries during WWII… that they were not all willing to commit suicide and die on behalf of their Emperor.  Yes, they hated the enemy with all their might and would lay down their lives for their buddies just like ours… but all of them DID want to go home.

They just knew they couldn’t.

7 thoughts on “Kamikazes”

  1. Another aspect of this is that the country losing a war is nearly always in more dire straights supply-wise, food-wise, etc, than the one winning and often the civilians and military aren’t fairing much better than the enemy POW’s. Not excusing for a minute the atrocities committed by (especially) the Japanese early in the war when there wasn’t this excuse, but later both Germany and Japan were flat on their kiesters and there just wasn’t enough of anything.

  2. Not having been their, it is hard to understand. It seems to me that atrocities of one type or another go hand in hand with war. And atrocities lead to more atrocities. –Curt

  3. I read “Kamikaze Diaries” by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney and what a sad picture. While some men were won over by the propaganda and were happy to volunteer, a great many were stoic or distressed. They felt a sense of responsibility to their country, and an unwillingness to shame themselves and their families by refusing. It was the thing to do if you were honorable. Painful to read their letters and see so many brilliant and sensitive young men lost. (That book is a tedious study so I don’t recommend it to casual readers)

  4. One must evaluate the behavior of men in highly stressful circumstances within the context of their group—say, a fire team or a squad, but just as easily a flight of pilots trained to fly bombs with wings. Some of it is bravado, which I think is something we would expect to see among competitive young men. Some of it has to do with unit pride. Most of it, or so I believe, has to do with keeping the faith with your fellow soldiers or airmen. There is an expectation among all concerned that every member of the team will do his part. Each man will do his duty. No one will let the other down. Loyalty to one another is singularly more important than some abstract loyalty to a national leader, or a flag, or any other instrument. Those things are very far away from men fighting or defending to the death of some god-forsaken island in the middle of the ocean. Whether Japanese Kamikaze pilots, or American riflemen … each of these share similar emotions. I cannot imagine the mindset among the Japanese leadership who so willingly wasted such precious resources. I cannot imagine the mindset among the Japanese leadership because I am not Japanese. History is clear on this, however. The decisions that were made by the Japanese high command were all wrong decisions, each of which imposed upon the Japanese people grievous suffering —even long after the last shot had been fired in this horribly wasteful war.

  5. Maybe if everyone would see the “enemy” as someone like themselves it could mean an end to war. My heart goes out to all the victims of the war – a soldier is just as much a victim, I know because my dad was one.

  6. In my recent research on Far East POWs I have come across a couple of stories of guards and prisoners becoming friends, and maintaining a friendship post war. Cultures may differ, but there are kind and thoughtful people in ALL of them.

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