The last kamikaze: two Japanese pilots tell how they cheated death
Hisao Horiyama first learned how he was due to die from a simple slip of white paper. On it were written three options: to volunteer willingly, to simply volunteer, or to say no. But as a 21-year-old airman caught in the thick of Japan`s faltering war with the allies, he knew there was only one choice. Without hesitation, he agreed to fly his plane into the side of a US warship. With that one act of destruction, he would end his life and the lives of many others, in the name of his emperor as a member of an elite, and supposedly invincible, group of young men whose sacrifice would deliver victory to Japan: the kamikaze.
Were Kamikaze pilots all just volunteers or how exactly did they get selected?
During WWII, thousands of Japanese pilots made the ultimate sacrifice for their country by becoming flying suicide bombers. But what was it that made these men so willing to lay down their lives in such a way? Were they really bright eyed volunteers eager to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, as the war time propaganda stated, or were they forced into it? The Japanese military brass were desperate: The enemy had them outgunned, out-manned, and possessed certain critical technologies that Japan didn`t have. To showcase how dire things were, going back to 1942, in a single day in June of that year Japan lost more airmen than they had managed to train in an entire year just before the war.
Kamikaze pilot had his entire family wiped out by a-bomb, fiancee harassed by U.S. service members
During the last year of World War II conventional tactics became ineffective, and Japan resorted to suicidal attacks. Japanese admiral Takijiro Onishi set up the Special Attack Force recruiting volunteers to carry out suicide missions. In 1943, Masayuki Matsumuro pursued the glider degree in an aviation school. A year later the Special Attack Force began experimenting with a human guided weapon called Ohka: a bomb carried by a Mitsubishi G4M aircraft. Matsumuro joined the Kamikaze squad at the age of 15 - 4 months before the war was over - visiting his family in Hiroshima just 2 hours before the atomic bomb was dropped there.
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What kamikaze manual adviced to Japanese kamikaze pilots
Transcend life and death. When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life... When diving and crashing on to a ship, aim for a point between the bridge tower and the smoke stack. Avoid hitting the bridge tower or a gun turret. In the case of an aircraft carrier, aim at the elevators. Or if that is difficult, hit the flight deck at the ship`s stern. For a low-altitude horizontal attack, aim at the middle of the vessel, slightly higher than the waterline. If that is difficult, in the case of an aircraft carrier, aim at the entrance to the airplane hanger, or the bottom of the stack.
Danger`s Hour: The Story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikaze Pilot Who Crippled Her
Historian Maxwell Taylor Kennedy (Robert F. Kennedy’s son) has examined interesting—material in his book on Japanese kamikaze pilots. His account focuses at the May 11, 1945, attacks on the American aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Bunker Hill, off the coast of Okinawa. While the subject has been covered before, for more than a decade there haven`t been many efforts to study the social, political and philosophical forces that yielded these grim final hours of the war. In his tale, Kennedy leaned on over 100 interviews with Japanese pilots and their families, conversations with Bunker Hill veterans and piles of National Archive reports.
South Korean kamikaze memorial taken down after protests
For decades, Tak Kyung-hyun and 17 other Koreans who flew kamikaze missions for Japan were treated as traitors. A half-century after his death Tak`s hometown, Sacheon, tried to change that with the first memorial in South Korea to a former kamikaze. But the memorial caused so much protest that it was taken down before it was even unveiled. This shows how much wrath remains over Japan`s colonial rule of the Korean peninsula 1910-1945. The memorial was born out of thinking that the Korean kamikazes were not collaborators, but victims of the Japanese colonial era who were forced to take on suicide missions.
Kamikaze film "Wings of Defeat" digs behind WWII propaganda
Ordered to sacrifice themselves by crashing their aircrafts into U.S. warships as Japan vainly battled to stave off invasion in the final months of World War II, some young pilots instead returned alive. "I wanted to live," Kazuo Nakajima, one of the `failed cherry blossoms` tells the filmmakers with an embarrassed laugh. "I didn`t want to die." Director Risa Morimoto sought out former kamikaze: Instead of finding the fanatics, she met a group of gentle men who confessed their mixed emotions about the past. One veteran even criticized the emperor for failing to surrender sooner.
Japan`s right looks to kamikaze pilots as models for youth (Article no longer available from the original source)
On April 12, 1945, Lt. Shinichi Uchida faced a horrible mission: crash his plane into a U.S. warship. But the young kamikaze`s final letter was full of bravado: "Now I`ll go and get rid of those devils," he wrote. He never returned. For many, such words are redolent of the militarism that drove Japan to ruin in WWII. But for an increasingly bold cadre of conservatives, his words symbolize something else: just the kind of commitment that Japanese youth need today. Long a synonym for the waste of war, kamikaze pilots are now being glorified in a film by Shintaro Ishihara and a museum about the kamikazes in Chiran, gets more than 500,000 visitors a year.
Kamikaze film sparks more of a pacifist than a patriotic response
"For Those We Love", a film of Japan`s wartime kamikaze suicide pilots written by Tokyo`s nationalist governor Shintaro Ishihara, opened in theatres sparking more of a pacifist than a patriotic response from audiences. The movie comes as Japan edges towards a vote on revising the U.S.-drafted constitution that has limited the country`s military activities. The movie tells the true story of a Tome Torihama who became a key figure to many of the young men as they trained to crash explosives-laden aircraft into U.S. warships - the ultimate sacrifice as Japan tried to avert U.S. invasion in the final months of World War II.
Japanese movie honours world war II kamikaze pilots
Young girls wave flags as pilots set off to almost certain death in a film "I Go To Die For You" about Japan`s "kamikaze" suicide missions during World War II. The movie sets the scene with historical background, as Vice-Admiral Takejiro Onishi announces the desperate strategy of using "kamikaze" pilots to fly their planes into U.S. ships. The first kamikaze attack took place in 1944 and its success inspired Onishi to recruit more men. He committed suicide by ritual seppuku the day after Japan surrendered in 1945. More than 2,000 planes were used and 34 U.S. ships were sunk. Other suicide attacks were also launched by manned torpedo, speed boat and divers.
The Reluctant Kamikazes in their bomb-armed Zero fighters
Oct 25, 1944: On the island of Mindanao, the six Japanese pilots went through a ceremony: They stood in a half-circle as their commanding officer poured each of them a drink and made a toast. "You are now as gods. Free from all earthly desires. I wish you success." The pilots drank to each other and to Emperor Hirohito. They then wrapped white scarves across their foreheads, climbed into their bomb-armed Mitsubishi Zero fighters and took off on a one-way flight to death. The last and largest naval battle of WW2 was being fought between the Japanese and U.S. fleets. It was at this moment that a new weapon was officially unleashed: kamikazes suicide bombers.
WWII kamikaze`s life
Kamikaze pilot Masayuki Matsumuro escaped death twice near the end of World War Two. But it was a chance encounter with a U.S. soldier that changed his life forever. At 14, he signed up to be a pilot for the Japanese Imperial navy. At 15, he volunteered for a suicide squadron planning an attack on U.S.-occupied Okinawa in 1945. A month before that mission, he visited his home in Hiroshima. At dawn on Aug. 6, he boarded a train to travel back to his base. Two hours later, a U.S. B-29 Super Fortress named the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the city, destroying everything he had ever known. The kamikaze mission was cancelled, and the war soon ended.
Battle of Okinawa mass suicides recalled, debated
Masahide Ota fought as a member of a "Blood and Iron Corps" of students mobilised to defend the southern Japanese island against American invaders. As many as one-third of Okinawa’s inhabitants were killed in the battle, described by many historians as a doomed sacrifice ordered by Japan’s military leaders to delay an invasion of the mainland. Many civilians, often entire families, died in mass suicides, by some accounts at the order of fanatical Japanese soldiers. Ota and others argue that whether or not there was a direct military order to commit suicide is not the point.
The German Kamikazes
The Nazi suicidists were laying their plans long before Japanese conceived the idea of Kamikaze pilots. Only bureaucratic inefficiency, and disinterest in official circles forstalled the appearance of Nazi Kamikazes. Hitler objected to the philosophy of suicide, and pointed out that there was no precedent in German history like it. After D-day Goering remembered that in his Luftwaffe there were pilots who had volunteered for a suicide mission. Plans to use a Focke Wulf 190, carrying a 4,000-pound bomb, to crash into selected targets were made, but Hitler heard about it and ordered the project abandoned.
Kamikaze pilot - We were ready to die for Japan
The story of a kamikaze pilot: He was 21 and preparing for what was supposed to be his valedictory contribution to the Japanese war effort as a member of the elite Tokkotai Special Attack Squadron - the kamikaze. Late 1944 he was in the Philippines preparing for a suicidal attack on a British cruiser. But for the first time in his flying career, his beloved Zero fighter let him down. When the aircraft developed engine trouble, Mr Hamazono was forced to return to another base in Taiwan. By the time he returned to Japan, doubts were surfacing about the value of the men of the Tokkotai: the 2,000 kamikaze aircraft dispatched had managed to sink only 34 ships.
No proof of soviet teenage suicide bombers` WWII camp - FSB (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Federal Security Service`s archives contain no documents suggesting that orphaned children were trained as suicide bombers at a Russian secret police special camp in the Alatau Mountains outside Almaty during WWII. Veterans` organizations inquired about this after a film with the same name was released in Russia. However, "The FSB has materials describing a German school which trained teenage saboteurs, organized by Abwehrkommand-203 in Hemfurth near Kassel, Germany, in July 1943. The children were taken from orphanages in Orsh and Smolensk, in occupied Russian territory."
Female pilot Hanna Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler (Article no longer available from the original source)
Hanna Reitsch, Nazi Germany`s celebrated female test pilot, suggested that Adolph Hitler should create a suicide squadron of glider pilots. Hitler was skeptical, believing that such a squadron would not be a good use of Germany`s limited resources. The blonde`s enthusiasm finally won Fuehrer over: he agreed to look into the adapting the V-1, which was designed to be a pilotless bomb, to a kamikaze vehicle. Reitsch promptly formed a Suicide Group, and was herself the first person to take the pledge: "I hereby... apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as a pilot of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death."
(News of the Odd)