Japanese, general discussion on the language
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RE: Kamikaze

Post by WacKostRacKo » Wed 10.12.2005 11:14 am

This little bit of text shows how important the pilots were considered.

'Kamikaze pilots were often university students, motivated by obligation and gratitude to family and country. They prepared by holding ceremonials, writing farewell poems, and receiving a "thousand stitch belt" — cloth into which 1,000 women had sewn one stitch as a symbolic uniting with the pilot. Then, in planes wrapped around 550 pound bombs, they would fly off to die.'

from: http://www.pbs.org/perilousfight/psycho ... ze_threat/

50 posts and counting......
tanuki wrote:
How about:

外人: これはすしです。すしが好きです。
日本人: おお!日本語が上手ですね。
外人: Erm....what?
story of my life...

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RE: Kamikaze

Post by Infidel » Wed 10.12.2005 11:57 am

Binsento wrote:
The thing i find strange is that this seems like Altruism.
Which is actually a pretty rare thing for humans.
I could be wrong of course, but i truly believe that not all of the pilots did it for themselves.
You have to understand the situation from their perspective: The barbarians were an unstopable force and if they won then all of Japan would be put to the sword.

To the Japanese this was a war of annihilation. From their perspective, the choices were, "I can die anyway, impotent under the sword of the enemy", or "I can die willingly, possibly hurt the enemy, and give my family and country a CHANCE to survive ." Any form of survival under the rule of "foreign devils" was considered worse than death.

We were the foreign devils, we were comming to torch their cities and eat their children. So strong was this belief of our evil nature and intent that entire schools were throwing themselves off cliffs because they felt that kind of death was preferable to the kind of death we would inflict on them.

This isn't all that hard to understand. In our own movies when we are faced with racial annihilation by aliens, we have our own model characters throwing themselves into the fire for the slim chance that it will make a difference. That's what it was to the Japanese at the time. The war wasn't a change in management to them, it was the end of the world.

Even in less extreme real world situations, when faced with the choice of the death of an entire group or the death of a few individuals but the survival of the group, there are usually people who step forward and accept their own death in the hope that the group may survive. Be it people drawing straws to volounteer their bodies to feed the group, or men going down with the ship so the women and children may live.

This really isn't the "Japanese" thing that people make it out to be. It happens in every culture all over the world, though hopefully not on a daily basis.

Kamikaze pilots weren't religious fanatics. That is just leftover WW2 propaganda dehumanizing the enemy. Kamikaze pilots were heroes in the truest sense of the word, alhough they were mislead. They volounteerd largely because the Emperor's propoganda painted us as so evil and painted losing as the end of the world, it wasn't, but they didn't realize that at the time.
Last edited by Infidel on Wed 10.12.2005 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RE: Kamikaze

Post by InsanityRanch » Wed 10.12.2005 3:22 pm

A couple of months ago a new book came out called "Blossoms in the Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze". The author is M.G. Sheftall who, according to the blurb on the flyleaf, is "an associate professor in the Faculty of Informatics at Shizuoka University in Japan, where he teaches U.S.-Japanese comparative culture and creative writing."

I am not that far in the book -- it is, um, fairly dense, so I've been reading it in little bites. But my understanding of his basic premise is that this was a desperation measure adopted when the Japanese air force was essentially already reduced to ineffective levels. The motivation for the pilots had to do with getting a chance to actually win, or at least do something that might make a difference to the success of a given battle. The explanation invented for public consumption was considerably more complex and involved religious as well as patriotic justifications. Incidentally, I was surprised at how short-lived the program was -- it was authorized in Octorber of 1944 and Japan surrendered less than one year later. I am sure I have read accounts that claim "kamikaze techniques" were used at Pearl Harbor. Apparently that is incorrect. The idea of kamikaze attacks has captured popular imagination to become larger than life.

Incidentally, the official records refer to it not as "kamikaze" but as "shinpuu" -- same kanji, different reading. I don't know what the reading for the original 13th-century use of those kanji was.

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RE: Kamikaze

Post by nprz » Wed 10.12.2005 3:47 pm

My girlfriend's father's uncle I believe was a kamikaze pilot and lived the attack.
I was like "What? No way..." then she told me he died a few days later in the hospital.

Not sure about for the Kamikaze pilots but a lot of lies were told to the soldiers, especially in Okinawa, which is why they would fight to the last person and commit suicide rather than being captured.

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RE: Kamikaze

Post by mandolin » Thu 10.13.2005 1:56 am

The word kamikaze has been changed, as far as american usage of it goes. Kamikaze here means "a suicidal attack".
Language always evolves over time. Words that once meant one thing in japanese now mean another. Same thing when words cross oceans via one means or another.

As a historical note, it is interesting to hear the origin and 'real' meaning of kamikaze. A word coming to have a new, broader (or in some cases, narrower) meaning is hardly rare, and it makes american usage of 'kamikaze' no less correct.

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