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Kamikaze!.pdf2 - University of Toronto Faculty of Arts and...

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University of Toronto - Faculty of Arts and Science Kamikaze: The Suicide Bombs Quila Toews 997556201 Professor André Maintenay TA: Mourad Laabdi Monday, March 15, 2010 RLG100Y1: World Religions
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The actions of the Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War II took the Western world by surprise. The pilots played an influential role in showcasing Japanese religion and thought by embedding it into military practices, while the rest of the world saw it as a perverted and twisted means to an end. The underlying moral basis of the suicide bombing attacks by the kamikaze stemmed from several different traditions and national ideals, creating a strong relationship between militarism and religion, and a solid cultural basis that promoted this behavior. Through my paper I intend to highlight various origins of thought that affected the kamikaze pilots in their choice to give up their lives in such a manner. To begin, I will examine the importance of self- sacrificial ritual to Japanese religious traditions such as Shintoism and Buddhism. Secondly, the Bushido code advocates the idea of the ‘good warrior’ and I will use this concept to outline how it affected the thought processes of the Japanese soldiers. As a final point, I will take the Japanese ultranationalist view and explain how it relates to the kamikaze dying for their country. To precede my arguments, I first need to touch upon the historical background and the main tactical and cultural elements that were known as signature by the kamikaze pilots. To begin, the name kamikaze means divine wind, and it refers to the typhoon in the thirteenth century that saved the Japanese from an airborne invasion by the Mongols (Littleton 24). From the beginning of Asia-Pacific conflict during World War II, there were some intentional crashes of Japanese pilots into American ships. However, the attacks became frequent during the end of 1943 and the beginning months of 1944. It was only by 1994 that the Japanese officers and pilots were aware of the consistency of these attacks. The military decided to consider using these attacks as military protocol when pilots were graduating early from Japanese flying schools with inadequate target training, causing the effectiveness of the Japanese air force to decline (Millot Toews 2
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17). The pilots that accepted these tactics usually had an attitude expressing the fact that the war would cause their demise anyway, and usually had highly developed religious and patriotic sentiments (Millot 19). It was in 1944 that the first suicide attack organized by the military occurred. Before their final attacks they went through ritualistic procedures, along with continuing their military duties. The first few days before the attack they went about normal life,
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