Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

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Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:47 pm

Musashi

I'm currently reading "Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers." by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney. When you read it you quickly realize how distorted the image of the special attack forces pilots is in the west. I've been reading several letters of pilots before this book and it really confirms what I thought before.

They were often not volunteers. There were enough who said "No, I won't go". In fact, their superiors often volunteered the whole outfit to get 100% volunteer rates. They obeyed, of course. If you consider the way they were brought up, the way the school system formed them, etc, it's not a surprise that they all took off in the end. Most of them had been around 10-12 when militarism in Japan finally won over democracy. By 1944/45 they were in their early 20s.

Shelby Foote wrote into one of his books about the American Civil War that it was easier to charge at the enemy's position and get shot to pieces with the whole unit, instead of outright saying "No", since barely anyone has that kind of courage.

It's interesting that not one single trained combat pilot ever volunteered for a special attack force sortie. Sakai Saburo, the surviving leading ace of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force, was once ordered to do a suicide attack (which was prior to the formation of the special attack forces), he, and other pilots violated the order and flew back to their bases. Sakai wrote in his book "Samurai! The rise and fall of the Japanese Naval Air Force" that, while he was willing to die for his country while defending it, the bushido he learned from his mother completely prohibited such an act. Sakai, thus, returned with his two wingmen. None of the pilots who turned back were ever prosecuted for disobeying orders.

Whenever I read their letters, I admit, I can't help but cry. They were sacrifized in vain by a military leadership, that rambled about the samurai spirit, while not really understanding it. The generals and admirals were hiding cowardly in their bunkers while the "student soldiers" were sent to their death and while women and children died in the firebomb attacks. I was in Kagoshima last summer and visited the special attack force memorial. Back then I asked myself "why?". While reading the book I asked it again, "why?". The generals and admirals should have read all pages in their bushido manuals, and not just what they considered to be useful. It would have prevented them from sacrifizing these young, yet brave, men. A horrible tragedy, triggered by a completely insane military  leadership, which, obviously, didn't understand its own roots. IMO, the special attack forces pilots deserve the outmost respect. Those, who sent them to their doom, though, deserve none.

She wrote another one "Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History", I'm still waiting for that to be shipped.

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Re: Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:48 pm

Shavera

Kamikaze literally means "Divine Wind."

Yet another deception of trying to make something rather horrible sound like something beautiful.

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Re: Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:49 pm

kugepoet

The origin of the "Divine Wind" dates to the Mongol invasions of the late 13th century. The Mongol fleet was destroyed by a storm, saving Japan from the invaders and reprieving the beleaguered samurai posted to defend the coast.

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Re: Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:49 pm

Musashi

Tokis-Phoenix wrote:
I remember seeing a documentory a while back on the kamikaze pilots, and one of the american navy men mentioned an interesting point. He said that when the kamikaze pilots attacked they were each told to target particular american ship, rather than gang up altogether on just a few ships.
Apparently though this made it much easier for the americans to shoot down the kamikaze pilots as each ship could concentrate its efforts on just a few planes rather than many.
This was a major flaw in japans tactics, but no one ever knew about it until the war ended as no kamikaze pilots made it back alive to point out this flaw in their tactics. Apparently naval loses would have been far, far greater if the kamikaze pilots had just changed their tactics slightly to get rid of this error.


I would dispute this, heavily.

If you take any footage from a special attack force raid, you can see that every American ship is pretty much defending itself. If all shinbutai planes would go for one American ship, the defenders can focus their fire on them, too. And, given the outdated aircraft being used by the Japanese in those days, I'd say the result would have been even more devastating for the Japanese.

kugepoet wrote:
Like those nice boys who hijacked civilian aircraft to ram them into the World Trade Center......

Who weren't on the same level as the special attack force, though, since the Shinbutai Corps was part of the standing military of its country in times of war, filled with actual soldiers following a military hierarchy and command structure with military orders, unlike Osama's minions.

Ikumatsu wrote:
I never learned much about the kamikaze pilotes but I always had respect for them. Anyone who dies in war gets my respect. Anyone who will kamikaze is doing something I don't think I could ever do and I respect their sacrafice and mourn their death. War is such a waste of life... even wars that are fought over something worth fighting for.

I can really only recommend reading the diaries. Their intellectual capacities were extremely impressive. You can blame it on the military with their pro rege at patria mori philosophy -which started to appear slowly in the Meiji Jidai already- for it.

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Re: Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:50 pm

kugepoet

Musashi wrote:
kugepoet wrote:
Like those nice boys who hijacked civilian aircraft to ram them into the World Trade Center......

Who weren't on the same level as the special attack force, though, since the Shinbutai Corps was part of the standing military of its country in times of war, filled with actual soldiers following a military hierarchy and command structure with military orders, unlike Osama's minions.


Agreed.

Simply poking a pin in a sweeping generalization about the nature of certain types of suicidal behavior.

Reminds me, I have some WWII warplane porn for you, Musashi-san!
I think it was on the History Channel a few weeks ago about an excavation in downtown London to recover a Hawker Hurricane that crashed into the street after ramming a German Dornier bomber that the pilot believed was threatening Buckingham Palace.

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Re: Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:52 pm

Musashi

Aye. I just think it shows how brave they really were. Surely, they didn't want to go, but they had to, one way or the other.

One of those who survived said that either you could volunteer for the Special Attack Force, or you'd be sent to the frontline as a regular grunt. In both cases, you were as good as dead anyway. The difference was, that the Special Attack Force pilot died as an officer and was promoted two more ranks, thus... gaining his family a higher pension.

Another survivor said that, when he aimed his faircraft at the enemy ship, he was screaming "Mother! Mother!" on top of his lungs. Apparently, he missed.

Yeah, I think they were extremely brave, unlike those who sent them to their deaths. Those guys in the leadership, they were cowards. An old saying is you can't lead from behind.

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Re: Special Attack Force - aka "Kamikaze"

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:52 pm

Dschinny

I think that's the main diffrence, the try to make the most even of the worst case for the beloved ones.

The truth behind all the seppuku-great-obediance-rambling: the need for protection of the kids and relatives against further revenge, blame and poverty drove them there. The logic result of a cruel society

- that spreads blame all over a clan and even the neighborhood.
- that believes in revenge.
- that forces complete population into a poor copy of samurai-standards without offering any compensation in return.

...an individual counts little then...

I don't think that global mass murdering including own death for an ideal/politics/faith like 9/11 can be compared to that.

Selfdestruction in modern times because of pain, fear, depression, boredom or hurt pride has little to do with it. Because of complete ignorance of the society that doesn't request suicide but offeres help and solutions and/or the try to stab the "ignorant" people closeto one, it's just the opposite.

btw: even in old Japan, unapproved suicide, especially for minor reasons was considered a dishonour which had severe consequences for a samurai's surviving family members.

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