Plunge Pontificates

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Memories of a Kamakazi Pilot

Fascinating article about a former pilot in the Japanese air force who lived through the war.

According to Taro Aso, the Japanese foreign minister, they did so for the emperor. Mr Aso, an arch conservative, longs for the day when Japan's symbolic head - not its political leaders - pays his respects at Yasukuni, a controversial Shinto shrine in Tokyo where Japan's war dead (including 14 class A war criminals) are honoured.

In truth, Mr Aso and other modern-day nationalists have no more idea than the rest of us about what went through the minds of the men and women who died in battle during Japan's wars of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Amen on that.

The entire article is fascinating and a brief glimpse into the mind of a survivor of that chaotic time.

Today's suicide bombers may invoke the name of their god before they self-destruct, but what of the kamikaze?

Mr Hamazono is certain that, had he been able to see his mission through to its conclusion, his final words would have had little to do with Japan's wartime state Shintoism or its spiritual figurehead.

"Mother ... that's the only word. You have only seconds left," he said. "The idea that we laughed in the face of death is a myth."