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How Fighting EndsA History of Surrender$
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Holger Afflerbach and Hew Strachan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693627

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693627.001.0001

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Kamikaze Warfare in Imperial Japan’s Existential Crisis, 1944–5

Kamikaze Warfare in Imperial Japan’s Existential Crisis, 1944–5

(p.383) 23 Kamikaze Warfare in Imperial Japan’s Existential Crisis, 1944–5
How Fighting Ends

Mordecai G. Sheftall

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Japan's use of ‘kamikaze’ suicide tactics during the last year of the Asia-Pacific War of 1931-45 as a form of propaganda action. Although the details of the kamikaze ‘message’ varied according to its intended audience(s) at any given time, a common thread in all versions of the message was an emphatic denial of both the ‘reality’ of impending defeat and the possibility of hostilities ending in Japanese surrender. This chapter situates this rhetoric of denial in the overarching discourse of an existential crisis, which was sensed at all levels of Japanese society in 1944-45. The psychodynamics of this crisis simultaneously prompted the use of kamikaze tactics and impeded the Japanese from acknowledging defeat.

Keywords:   kamikaze, suicide tactics, existential crisis, worldview, psychodynamics, rhetoric, Japan

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