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Weapons: Kamikaze Compared To Suicide Bombers
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March 18, 2008:  Al Qaeda, and their Sunni Arab allies in Iraq made a major effort using suicide bombers. Nearly 2,000 men, and a few women, volunteered (including a few who were coerced or deceived) to make attacks. About 90 percent of the attacks were against Iraqi civilians or security personnel. The attacks against Americans killed 216 U.S. military personnel. There were three times as many attacks against Iraqi troops and police, and many more casualties (over 2,500 dead). Most of the suicide bomber attacks were against civilians, and over 10,000 were killed. This effort has become the second largest suicide attack campaign in the last century. The largest was the Japanese use of suicide pilots, in air attacks on the U.S. Navy (and some allied ships) during the later stages of World War II. Some 2,800 suicide pilots died. They managed to sink 34 ships and damage 368 others. About 4,900 sailors died. Only about 14 percent of the Kamikaze pilots survived U.S. fighters and anti-aircraft fire, to actually hit a ship. The Kamikaze always attacked military targets, while the suicide bombers tended to avoid anyone who could shoot back.


With both the Kamikazes and Islamic suicide bombers, the idea was to demoralize the opponent, and force an end to the conflict, or at least reduce the extent of the attackers defeat. The tactic failed in both cases, although both Kamikazes and Islamic "martyrs"  are admired for their courage. In the case of the Islamic suicide bombers, the tactics backfired in that the civilian population, which was getting hurt the most, turned on the terrorists. The many attacks on Iraqi security forces were supposed to demoralize them, but that, by-and-large, did not work.


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Rick9719       3/18/2008 8:00:57 AM
I see nothing courageous about throwing your own life away in order to murder civilians.  The Kamikazes can be admired for their courage, they were attacking military targets as uniformed combatants.  The Islamic "martyrs" are nothing but cowards.  - Rick Stuart
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Yimmy       3/18/2008 8:16:14 AM
There is nothing brave about serving a culture which demands your death.

The Americans had the right idea when they were developing those guided bombs whereby a pigeon was inserted into the nose cone, and pecked towards the ship on a gyro, and steered the bomb.  Their just rats with wings anyway.

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Lance Blade       3/18/2008 9:33:41 AM

There is nothing brave about serving a culture which demands your death.
Weren't those guys volunteers? So I don't think "demands" is the right word here. What about the 300 Spartans, who went to certain death to slow the Persian advance? Was there "nothing brave" about them too? Yes, kamikazees were brainwashed as part of their training, but I'm fairly certain that initially they had to volunteer and pass selection tests.

I agree with the first poster. The kamikazees can be admired for their bravery, while terrorists were mostly attacking unarmed innocent civilians, and there is nothing brave about that. I do believe, also, that the whole purpose of the kamikazees was to "protect the homeland". They were used at the latter stage of the war, when there were few other alternatives. And they failed. They could not stop hundreds of thousands of their countrymen from being killed by atom bombs.
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Yimmy       3/18/2008 9:51:25 AM

There is nothing brave about serving a culture which demands your death.

Weren't those guys volunteers? So I don't think "demands" is the right word here.

Well - it is.  The entire Japanese culture of the time was twisted around a misguided sense of righteousness and empire.  Those volunteering were subject to peer pressure to say the least.

The 300 Spartans were brave for sure - but then they did not march to suicide.  As were the Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima brave, if their officers misguided.

Just my opinions of course.
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JFKY       3/18/2008 11:11:01 AM
Actually not all Tokko pilots or Tokko members were "volunteers."  Some were simply assigned to the various suicide units that the Japanese created.
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Dave_in_Pa    Civilized warriors vs. barbarian murderers   3/18/2008 9:09:35 PM
I have to agree with Rick.

The Kamikazi restricted their attacks to US Navy vessels, legitimate wartime military targets.  I don't admire, as I'm sure nobody else here does, the Bushido warrior code that would motivate and glorify a Kamikazi flyer. However, they at least weren't attacking civilian skyscrapers and praising God as they slaughtered civilian men, women and children. The Kamikazi, knowing their mission was a one-way mission, at least died like civilized men, very bravely attacking or attempting to attack military targets of their country's wartime enemy.

Islamofascist terrorists, in contrast, are cowardly barbarians, deliberately avoiding attacking US or Allied military forces, instead aiming specifically at killing civilian men, women and children to attain their goals.

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Herald12345    Whether volunteer or assigned.   3/19/2008 4:19:03 AM
the young Japanese pilots who flew against the USN as guidance systems for cruise missiles were neither brain washed, nor cowardly.

Ito told them EXACTLY what they were up aginst and why the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters asked them to lay down their lives.

From The Guardian  February 28th ,2006:
'We were ready to die for Japan'

Justin McCurry hears the extraordinary story of a kamikaze pilot whose aircraft's failure meant his survival

Tuesday February 28, 2006

For what, or whom, did Japan's 2.5 million war dead sacrifice their lives?

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.

For a truly authoritative explanation, free of polemic, they should spend an hour in the company of Shigeyoshi Hamazono. In the black and white photograph he showed me when we met near his home in Kyushu, in south-west Japan, Mr Hamazono looks every inch the dashing young pilot. Now, more than 60 years later, he is slow on his feet - but his posture betrays his military past, and his scarred face breaks into a smile when he recalls dogfights with US fighter planes in the final months of the Pacific war. That photograph, kept in near-pristine condition, should have been the last-ever image of Mr Hamazono.

When it was taken, he was 21 and preparing for what was supposed to be his valedictory contribution to the Japanese war effort as a member of the elite Tokkotai Special Attack Squadron - the kamikaze. He volunteered as a navy pilot soon after the Japanese bombed Peal Harbour in December 1941, and by late 1944 was in the Philippines preparing for a suicidal attack on a British cruiser.

But for the first time in his flying career, his beloved Zero fighter let him down. When the aircraft developed engine trouble, Mr Hamazono was forced to return to another base in Taiwan, where sympathetic engineers deliberately dawdled over their repairs, putting off the day when the young pilot would have to leave with his engine containing only enough fuel for a one-way journey.

By the time he returned to Japan, doubts were surfacing about the value of the men of the Tokkotai: the 2,000 kamikaze aircraft dispatched in the final phase of the war had managed to sink only 34 ships. Even so, Mr Hamazono's superiors again sent him out to die.

"They came out of the clouds from above and I saw them too late," he said of the US fighters that confronted, and then outgunned, his squadron in a 35-minute dogfight that left him with a badly damaged aircraft and cuts and burns to his face and hands.

"At the end of the dogfight, I could see them coming at me again from a long way off. I was certain that I would be killed in a matter of seconds. But as they got closer they banked and flew off. I still can't work out why they did that."

As dusk descended, Mr Hamazono limped back to the Japanese mainland until he could see the lights of Chiran, a kamikaze base on Kyushu. "I was burned all over and only had five of my teeth left," he said. His mission had failed. With only weeks of the war remaining, he stayed on to train younger pilots who - unlike their emotionally exhausted teacher - were still eager to die as heroes.

Now aged 81, Mr Hamazono said his only regret is that so many of his comrades died. "
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JFKY       3/19/2008 10:47:21 AM
I'm not sure I'd put Torpedo Eight and "Kamikaze" in the same phrase....The torpedo crewman at Midway were committed and brave and professionals.  They didn't set out to die, it just happened.  A tokko crewman, be it a kamikaze or diver or Shinyo set out knowing they weren't coming back.  I think that makes a pretty important distinction.
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JFKY       3/19/2008 11:31:15 AM
"...fake bushido barbarism we saw instilled in the peasant officer corps of the despicable Imperial Japanese Army . "
I'm not sure I buy that either.  I don't dispute the fake Bushido part, or mayhap a bastardized Bushido, mis-applied, but rather I think you grant the Imperial Japanese Navy too much an exemption.  It's not that the IJA WASN'T in the grip of this fake and murderous credo, but rather that the IJN was, as well.  Suicide attacks emerged from the IJN.  The IJN adopted Tokko tactics wholesale, aircraft, boats, divers, even the Yamato Surface Action Group all were one-way, "Special Attacks."  I would say that the ENTIRE Japanese Armed Forces were infected with this awful credo, not just the IJA.
I might also add that I'm not sure that the IJA was such a great group, ever....unless you can explain the difference between the IJA of WWI and the Kwantung Army.  The officers were pretty much the same, lot.  The ultra-nationalism was always there, from 1904's just that in 1931 it was directed not at a conventional military but more at a people, in the form of the Chinese.  And that from 1941 on the US saw the ferocity of the Japanese Army, first-hand.  Bottom-line: I'm not sure that there is a big cultural dividing line between the IJA of the 1930's and the IJA of the First World War.

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theBird       3/19/2008 9:47:52 PM
The Kamikazes didn't pretend to be passanger planes until the American's backs were turned, nor did they "martyr" themselves attacking civilian marketplaces.  While they may have been misguided one cannot deny their courage to fight as Soldiers, unlike our current foes who perfer to attack us disguised as "innocent civilians" and when they prove too pathetic to succeed at even that, turn to attacking truely innocent civilians.  In Western culture deliberately killing oneself is looked down upon, from the 300 at Sparta to the 2 Snipers of Mogadishu to current heros in the War on Terror many Soldiers have willingly taken on what for all intents and purposes were suicide missions to save thier comrades and destory the enemy.
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