kamikaze (EN)

GC: n

S: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-kamikaze-attack-of-the-war-begins(external link) (last access: 15 November 2015); http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/the-pacific-war-1941-to-1945/kamikazes-and-world-war-two/(external link) (last access: 15 November 2015).

N: 1. "suicide flier," 1945, Japanese, literally "divine wind," from kami "god, providence, divine" (kami, Japanese for "superior, lord," a title given to governors, also used of deities; the word was chosen by Japanese converts and Protestant missionaries to refer to the Christian god) + kaze "wind." Originally the name given in folklore to a typhoon which saved Japan from Mongol invasion by wrecking Kublai Khan's fleet (August 1281). The attacks began in October 1944 off the Philippines.
As an aside, at war's end, the Japanese had, by actual count, a total of 16,397 aircraft still available for service, including 6,374 operational fighters and bombers, and if they had used only the fighters and bombers for kamikaze missions, they might have realized, additionally, 900 ships sunk or damaged and 22,000 sailors killed or injured. In fact, however, the Japanese had outfitted many aircraft, including trainers, as potential suicide attackers. As intelligence estimates indicated, the Japanese believed they could inflict at least 50,000 casualties to an invasion force by kamikaze attacks alone. (Richard P. Hallion, "Military Technology and the Pacific War," 1995)
As an adjective by 1946.
2. Japanese, literally, divine wind. First known use: 1945.
- Full definition:
  • a member of a Japanese air attack corps in World War II assigned to make a suicidal crash on a target (as a ship).
  • an airplane containing explosives to be flown in a suicide crash on a target.
- As an adjective:
  • of, relating to, or resembling a kamikaze;
  • having or showing reckless disregard for safety or personal welfare.
3. The Mongol invasions, the only military invasion of Japan before World War II, occurred during this period. Khubilai, Great Khan of the Mongols, invaded China and in 1263 became Emperor of China. He pressed his conquest on to Japan. In 1274 and 1281 Mongols and Chinese led great expeditions across the seas to southwest Japan. Samurai in Kyûshû were greatly outnumbered and technically disadvantaged. In 1274, a great storm arose that destroyed or set to sea the whole invasion fleet. In 1281, after 50 days of fierce struggle, the Japanese were again saved by a great storm. These storms became known as kamikaze, divine winds. (More than 650 years later, during the second invasion of Japan, by America, the suicide pilots protecting the islands were called kamikaze, too). The Mongolian attempts to invade Japan united the Japanese against an outside force for the first time in history. Shintô priests, involving the country's deities for protection, were richly rewarded.
4. It is considered politically incorrect in Japanese media to use “kamikaze” to refer to the suicide air battalions formed near the end of World War II, and most outlets opt for the official term Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Unit),or Tokkōtai for short. The following translation preserves this, using “Special Attack Unit” in some places and Tokkōtai in others. I use “kamikaze” only where it appears in the original.
In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, many French media have referred to the simultaneous bombings conducted throughout the city as “kamikaze attacks.” The word “kamikaze” has been a global synonym for all suicide terrorism ever since the attacks of September 11 – even though this usage conflates the original kamikaze attack pilots with modern terrorists who target civilians. Undoubtedly, the militarist ideology that drove people to sacrifice their lives for the Imperial nation cannot be seen as “completely different” thing from the madness that justifies murder in the name of holy war. Seventy years after World War II, movements to glorify and rehabilitate the Special Attack Corps are a subject of endless controversy, and the true values of “Pacifist Japan” seem to be called into question again.
5. Needless to say, the terms “suicide bombing” and “suicide terrorism” first entered common English usage after the attacks of September 11, 2001, in which Islamist radicals crashed commercial airlines into the World Trade Center in New York City. Crashing into a target with neither bombs nor military escort, with nothing but the plane controls in your hands, seemed to be the very essence of a “Special Attack.” In news coverage after 9/11, references to “kamikaze” appeared regularly during coverage of the terrorists responsible for the attack.
The 9/11 attacks were the first to occur on American soil since the Imperial Japanese Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, leading many US media outlets to describe them “The Second Pearl Harbor” during initial coverage. Seemingly out of consideration for the Japan-America alliance, then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice officially stated that the attacks “were not the same as Pearl Harbor.”
But the “kamikaze = terrorist” analogy took hold, and spread wide, despite Rice’s gesture. After September 11, with suicide bombings a frequent occurrence across the Middle East, simultaneous attacks were carried out on London commuter trains and buses in July 2005. In December of the same year, another suicide attack, the first by a Caucasian woman from Europe, took place in Iraq.
After these attacks, media outlets once again referred to the perpetrators as “kamikaze.” One reason may be that, by that point, “kamikaze” had become accepted as a synonym for any shocking foreign attack.
Euro-American media undoubtedly recognize the difference between Imperial Japan’s Special Attack Unit and suicide attacks on innocent civilians, and both ABC Television and Le Monde in France have run special reports on kamikaze pilots. Nonetheless, the association of kamikaze with suicide bombers remains undisturbed.
6. Cultural Interrelation: We can mention Thunder Gods The Kamikazes Pilots Tell Their Story (Audio, Cassette, 1991) by Hatsuho Naito.

S: 1. OED - http://goo.gl/yMAOTB;(external link) http://goo.gl/hmfFRu(external link) (last access: 15 November 2015). 2. MW - http://goo.gl/C3F5aE(external link) (last access: 15 November 2015). 3. http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/japan_1000ce_samurai.htm(external link) (last access: 15 November 2015). 4 & 5. http://ignition.co/433(external link) (last access: 26 December 2015). 6. http://www.amazon.com/Thunder-Gods-Hatsuho-Naito/dp/0786102144(external link) (last access: 21 November 2015).




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