Tuesday, September 06, 2005

World's First Suicide Bomber!

Yukio Seki has his epitaph describing him as "the world's first official human bomb". Given today’s horrifying consequences of such suicidal missions, I am not sure his family would be too pleased to read that notoriety written on the plague of his statue.

Yukio was the leader of the first kamikaze raid in October 1944. The suicidal missions first launched off from the Philippines during the closing stages of WWII, when the Japanese military ran out of hardware and resources, but not steam to continue its ferocious fight againt the Americans. Like today’s angry and fanatical Islamists, those Japanese resorted to the ultimate sacrifice in a desperate though vain attempt to stem the American inexorable march towards Tokyo.

The name kamikaze means ‘divine wind’ which harkens back to the myth of the ‘divine wind' that stopped Kublai Khan’s Mongolian fleet of 4,000 ships from invading Japan in 1281. A typhoon appeared from nowhere (no satellite weather forecast in those days) and destroyed the entire invading fleet, thus saving Japan by 'divine intervention' - Banzai!

Wikipedia said the truth was the Chinese shipbuilders, who hated the Mongolian invaders themselves, sabotaged the vessels by building them poorly.

A kami is of course a Japanese spirit. That ‘miraculous’ typhoon that saved Japan was given the special name of ‘divine wind’ or kamikaze. The Japanese WWII military strategists had hope for another ‘divine’ intervention to prevent their ‘divine’ Emperor from being vilified by gaijin (foreigners), but decided that if their gods were a bit tardy responsing to their frantic appeals they might just take things into their own mortal hands and create a 20th Century kamikaze out of the remnants of their air assets.

The naval suicide attack units flying the planes were called shinpū tokubetsu kōgeki tai (special attack units) but due to the peculiarities of the Kanji, the Japanese written language adopted from the Chinese language, the word shinpū could also be pronounced as kamikaze.

Surely you would expect such a visual statement of Japanese wartime duty, honour, sacrifice and death (and bloody hope) expressed in a statue of a kamikaze pilot to be located at a Japanese coast gazing serenely and defiantly towards the eastern horizon across the Pacific Ocean where the mighty American fleet came from.

But no, the statue stands at Mabalacat airfield in the Philippines from where the first kamikazes took off.

The Filipino aim is obvious, to attract Japanese tourists to the Philippines, where more than one million people died from Japanese wartime brutalities. Predictably, most visitors have been Japanese.

One Filipino wrote: "This memorial is an outrage and insults the memory of Filipino veterans. It is revolting." Sorry brother, it's Banzai for the mighty yen.


  1. Wasn't the first suicide bomber one of those idiots at the opium war?

    Kami in japanese literally translates to god. they have a pantheon, remember?

  2. Haven't read that one about the Opium War - must research! kami does mean spirit - perhaps it means god too.