This is how the story is always told:

Many kamikaze pilots were very young, mostly between 18 and 24. They believed that dying for Japan and their emperor was very honorable. They saw themselves much like the samurai of the Middle Ages, brave Japanese warriors.
  • Wikipedia
It is told this way again and again. But there is another story of the kamikaze pilots, and it goes a little something like this:
(From The Soul at Work) In her book Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers, the Japanese researcher Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney proves that the young pilots were not at all enthusiastic about the destiny that had been assigned to them. By publishing their letters, the author shows that in general kamikazes were not consenting, and that the higher levels of hierarchy (none of whom was immolated) forced them take off with airplanes that only had enough fuel to reach the objective (an enemy ship), but not to return.
If this story is more true than the standard one of kamikaze pilots, and I'm almost certain it is (I ordered the book yesterday and will read it early next month), we can easily understand why it is not the standard story. Those in power on both sides of the war benefited from the image of the zealous, hyper-patriotic Japanese pilot: one side for the purposes of demonization; the other for deification. Both, however, had the same aim: the repression and control of the population.

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