A suicide bomber, a suicide warrior… Saying this word evokes images of explosions, the death of hundreds of people, the unparalleled cruelty and, perhaps, the special heroism of Japanese soldiers who fought in World War II. They were called “kamikaze“.
Who were these guys really? Banzai, friends! We offer you to plunge into the samurai traditions and the Bushido Code of those years.
Origin of the word
Genghis Khan’s grandson, a certain Kublai, made two attempts to conquer Japan, starting in 1274. Surprisingly, both invasions failed, thanks to storms that scattered the Mongol ships. According to legend, the emperor of the country of the Rising Sun himself, fearing an imminent defeat, retired on a pilgrimage to the local gods, hoping to avert trouble from his country. Why did the Japanese expect defeat? Everything is simple. The Mongols beat them at every meeting. However, they then beat everyone.
So, apparently, the celestials heard the monarch, sending the “Divine Wind”. Several centuries passed, Japan again found itself on the verge of a crushing defeat, already during the Second World War. Here the imperial ideologists remembered the term “kamikaze”. New suicide soldiers will become the “divine providence” that will save the country from enemy invasion. And now, thousands of fearless suicides are attacking the allied forces from the air and sea, going to ramming aircraft, blowing themselves up on guided mines.
May you have ten thousand years of long life
“Banzai” is a Japanese battle cry that just means the wish of these millennia. The ideology of the samurai is set out in the Code of Bushido and lies in the fact that a soldier must always be ready to die for the emperor. He, the code, begins like this: “The path of the samurai lies to death…”. And although these axioms were first stated in the 18th century, their collection (Hagakure) was reprinted in 1940, issued to every Japanese soldier.
It is impossible to say for sure whether this brochure influenced the rage and fearlessness of the fighters, their unwillingness to surrender… Or maybe it was the fear of the cruelty of the Americans, who promised to hang every Japanese soldier who fell into their hands. The fact remains: if in Europe more than five million German soldiers surrendered to the Allies, then in the Pacific region their number was about 250,000 people.
One plane, one ship
By the middle of 1943, the Japanese command had come to a disappointing conclusion: the Americans were outplaying them. The problem was that the United States could afford to drop many times more bombs to hit targets than was available in the arsenal of the emperor’s army. I had to improvise. Then the idea of ”live projectiles” was born, where the pilot and the aircraft became a single guided bomb. The concept was tested in October 1944, when a Japanese rear admiral personally rammed the American aircraft carrier Franklin. Divine Wind has been reborn.
Initially, the suicidal tokko attacks were not recognized. However, the losses of the Japanese grew, began to acquire catastrophic proportions. Then Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo ordered the formation of “special units”. Their main weapons were combat aircraft Zero, Oscar, Cates, aircraft of other types, including heavy bombers.
The tactics were as follows: get as close as possible to the enemy, shoot the aircraft’s ammunition or drop all the bombs. After the pilot threw his car to ram the nearest target. Interestingly, all kamikazes had to be volunteers. In this way, Emperor Hirohito could avoid being charged with war crimes and even claim to have no knowledge of his military headquarters’ plans.
In March 1945, the Government of Japan passed the Law on the Arrival of Volunteers. According to the document, all men from 15 to 60 years old, all women from 15 to 40 years old were trained in the use of simple weapons and explosives. All of them became kamikaze. The army did not stand aside either.
The Japanese Navy had in its arsenal high-speed boats (Ocean Shaker), capable of gaining speed up to 55 km / h (30 knots). Up to 250 kg were loaded into the bow. explosives, often reinforced with rockets. The boat was controlled by a suicide pilot, who was supposed to ram the enemy ship at full speed, sending it to the bottom.
Human-guided Kaiten (Return to Heaven) torpedoes were ready for use. These are very reliable and powerful oxygen projectiles, with a warhead up to half a ton, reaching speeds of up to 100 km / h. The pilot locked in the cylinder no longer had the opportunity to get out of it, even if his mission failed. For such an outcome, a self-destruction mechanism was provided.
Miniature submarines Kiaryu (Sea Dragon) acted in a similar way, detachments of suicide scuba divers were formed, human-controlled jet cruise missiles “Oka” were created… In general, the Japanese thoroughly prepared for the invasion. At the same time, the law on the draft of volunteers did not at all turn people into regular troops. They didn’t even have uniforms. Thus, any peasant encountered by the occupying soldiers could turn out to be a civilian or a kamikaze.