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Kamikazes Resent Islamist Link

The Los Angeles Times reports that kamikaze survivors are keen to explain why those who volunteered to become “divine winds” should not be compared with the suicide bombers of today:

They were ready to die out of love for their country, they say; suicide bombers are driven by hatred and revenge.

The Shinto religion offers no reward of life after death. Islamic suicide bombers are promised a place in an afterlife.

They were volunteers, motivated solely by patriotism. Suicide bombers often are recruited by militia leaders who offer money to their families.

Plus, adds former kamikaze instructor Takeo Tagata:

No matter what supreme ideas they talk about, suicide bombers are just killing innocent civilians, people who don’t have anything to do with their war.

Kamikaze survivors, reports the LA Times, are a small group of veterans whose missions were either aborted or failed. For years ashamed and stigmatised, today the veterans are sought after for their reminiscences and are respected in Japan. However, there is some foreign admiration for the kamikazes that they are keen to shun:

Naoto Amaki, Japan’s former ambassador to Lebanon, recalled delivering a polite lecture to Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shiite Islamist militia Hezbollah, in 2001. Amaki said he told Nasrallah that Japan’s experience was a lesson in the ultimate futility of violence.

Not so, replied the sheik.

“He told me: ‘We learned how to do suicide missions from the kamikazes,’ ” Amaki recalled. “Nasrallah said the Shiites all commend the Japanese samurai spirit.”

(Actually, it should be remembered that aside from the 1983 Lebanon US Embassy bombing Hezbollah has stuck to military targets for its suicide missions, whatever else the organisation or Nasrallah could be accused of)

The explanation about life after death is over-simplified. J-Aircraft.com reproduces some quotes from kamikaze pilots, and one of these does reflect the haziness of the afterlife in Shinto:

Some vague thoughts about my soul being enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine, about the incomprehensive world of death, and other thoughts came and went.

However, another is more optimistic (although written to comfort children):

Your father cannot be seen to your eyes, but he is always watching over you…Your Daddy, Masanori and Kiyoko, has become a god and is always watching you.

A handy (anonymous) student essay on the subject posted here has further details, including this rather surprising quote from Ichizo Hayashi of Fukuoka:

We live in the spirit of Jesus Christ, and we die in that spirit…I will precede you now, mother, in the approach to Heaven. Please pray for my admittance. I should regret being barred from the Heaven to which you will surely be admitted.

Of course, Buddhist ideas would also have informed some kamikazes, despite the state ideology of Shinto.

Meanwhile, for one kamikaze veteran at least, the cogs are starting to turn:

“I still don’t think it was a mistake to send kamikazes,” Hamazono says, though he wonders why, if they thought suicide attacks were such a good idea, none of the officers volunteered.

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