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The roots of Japanese fanaticism

Author : 🕔15.06.2004 📕26.232
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Fanaticism is characterized as a blind bias associated with intolerance of all different views. That was the basis on which suicide units could emerge. It grew from solid roots, from which the structure of the Japanese nation was formed for many centuries. ( Surprisingly, fifty years was enough and most of these roots - at least seemingly - faded ).

These were, in particular, strong national traditions, the extensive influence of religion, the Samurai Codex Bushido and the Japanese education system. All were united by complete devotion and obedience to the emperor. The cumulative action of these facts then, in a suitable interpretation, created a nation chosen by God, which does not lose its uniqueness even after death, because it also serves the divine emperor, the greater glory of his and his homeland.

National traditions


The tradition of Japanese feudal society persisted in industrial Japan as well, as the original social structure remained essentially unchanged. The divine emperor tennó remained the supreme lord of all the Japanese, although most had never seen him - they were forbidden to do so. After all, he was a descendant of the first emperor Jimmu, the grandson of Amaterasu, the sun goddess herself, who sent him to the Yamato country to establish its dynasty, which would rule the chosen nation. It is only a myth, but even that - properly interpreted - was a very effective weapon of national chauvinism, the first step towards the so-called election and thus impunity.

Jatagarasu, the sun crow, leads Emperor Jimmu and his men toward the Yamato plains
Ginko Adashi (active 1874-1897) - Stories from Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), .

Another element was the tradition of military rule and the fact that the military craft enjoyed great respect in Japan. The constant wars between the individual rulers - the shoguns gave rise to a layer of samurai - originally only to members of the shogun's armed forces, later to military nobles with a specific type of behavior and moral qualities. The reign of the shoguns lasted for many centuries - from 1192 to 1867, when Emperor Mucuhito forced the last shogun Keiki to abdicate.

Sakanoue Tamuramaroo ( 758-811 ) was one of the first shoguns of the early Heian period
Kikuči Jósai,

Two years later, the samurai, in the sense of the emperor's " Meiji Ishin " reforms, became the basis of the modern Japanese army. It is logical that they transferred their principles and the ways in which they lived for centuries, specified in the well-known Bushido Code, under modified slogans of obedience and, more recently, diligence " for the greater glory and strength of the Yamato race ." The army, as the emperor's protector, remained a superior component of the nation with many privileges, and therefore the military craft continued to be esteemed and revered.


The Japanese have a great sense of mysticism and therefore worshiped many deities and cults - in addition to the cult of nature " kami " also the cult of ancestors, which was a symbol of identity not only the family but the community ( both cults in a modified form persist to this day ).By merging the two cults, non-violent religion created a new " shinto " - the path of the spirits.


Torii Gate in Itsukushima Shrine
Jordy meow,

Shintoism is an early form of Japanese religion, based on polytheism and animism, without canons and dogmas, without church buildings, and formal church organizations with numerous gods, dominated by the sun goddess Amaterasu. Under the influence of other philosophies, especially Buddhism, Shintoism adapted and created an analogy of monotheism, where this only god is the descendant of the goddess Amaterasu - the Japanese emperor. Only he was allowed to perform the rites in honor of the goddess Amaterasu. His divine origin guarantees him inviolability and absolute obedience to his commands and desires. Thus, Shintoism became the state religion, and as a result of the deity of the emperor and his subjects, they became a divine nation - the chosen one.

However, as an informal religion - Shintoism is more of a philosophy, a Shintoist can be a Christian, a Buddhist ( most often ) or a Muslim - he needed a framework in which to operate. Buddhism has become this framework since the 9th century. The long tenure of Buddhist priests had a legitimate influence on the determination of the basic principles and duties of every Japanese. They were:

  • Loyalty to the emperor and recognition of his adoration, because everyone is under his protection, and therefore the part of the love of the goddess Amaterasu, which includes her descendant, naturally falls on every Japanese. Every soldier who in any extraordinary way puts his life behind the glory of Japan and the emperor becomes a war god " gunshin ". A sign with his name is hung in the Jakasuni Shrine, dedicated to the Japanese armed forces. Moreover, such a soldier is worshiped with his whole family in his place of residence and becomes the pride of this village or town. The other soldiers who fall for Japan in the ordinary course of war are enrolled on a common table, and the emperor accepts the dead under his protection once a year - on the day of his accession to the throne. By the start of World War II, there were almost a million of them.
  • Worship of ancestors, their seriousness and obedience to the emperor. This guaranteed the continuity of the son's obedience to his father and grandfather as the moral basis of every Japanese duty.

Shintoism used the philosophy of Confucianism and brought it into a position of obedience, fidelity and cooperation with a certain feature of Stoicism towards death. Death in the interests of the homeland and the emperor is not death in the true sense of the word. It is only an act leading to a certain degree of deification. The deity of the emperor thus becomes a weapon of immense effectiveness. The Japanese became the chosen nation, which has the right to remove from the way anyone who wants to prevent its " divine mission " - to rule all nations.

Samurai Principles - BUŠIDÓ Code

Building the foundations of the power system of the military nobility - samurai is associated primarily with shogun Joritomo - lord of Kamakura, leader of the Minamoto family in the middle of the 12th century AD . In order to obtain this hereditary and confirmed vassalism, the following basic conditions and obligations have been set:

  • military status and land tenure;
  • complete obedience and submission to the lord;
  • willingness to fight for one's master at any time;
  • guard service in Kyoto, Kamakura and on strategic roads.

Joritomo Minamoto, founder and first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate.He ruled in 1192-1199
Fujiwara Takanobu,

In addition, the samurai had to contribute to the construction of protective fortifications, temples, monasteries, etc. according to their assets. In return for these services, Jorimoto provided them with a guarantee of the land they held and access to additional pensions by appointing them to military positions. They were also rewarded with land gained in battles with enemy families. In 1180, there were about 2000 of these Jorimoto vassals. Their mutual relations were a model applied to various levels of Japanese society. The protection provided by the lord, originally only in the form of a guarantee of the right to land, takes on much broader forms over time. On the other hand, the duties of a samurai extend to the obligation to sacrifice one's life for one's master.


This idea becomes the basis of the moral values of the samurai and the norms of its behavior. The norms were gradually supplemented in the Tokugawa epoch by Confucianism, which became the basic philosophy and ideology of the samurai. The principle of superiority and subordination, with the categorical requirement of vassal loyalty, best corresponded to the real position of the samurai and thus ensured them superiority over other states.

In the middle of the 17th century, a set of these norms is formulated into the final form of the BUŠIDÓ code, or " soldier's path, " which includes the ten principles of ethical standards of samurai behavior. In essence, this is the Taoist teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-ch, for whom there is a Japanese term " do " - the way. Bushido is a philosophy of the activities of a warrior, a soldier. It's the way to go, because as a soldier he can't do anything else. He must act as the nature of his profession determines. If he deviates from this path, he will end badly and be rejected along with his family.

The author of this code is the Confucian philosopher and military theorist Sokó Yamaga ( 1622-1685 ). For a time he worked as a samurai teacher in the principality of Akó, where his disciples included Yoshio Oishi, the later leader of 47 samurai, whose actions became a general example of the vassal loyalty and honor of the samurai.

Jamaga Sokó

In 1703, Mr. Yoshio Oishi, Nagano Asano, prince of Aco, got into a dispute with the chief honorary of the shogunate, Yoshinak Kira. For the insult he committed against him, he was stripped of his fief and called upon to perform a ritual suicide of " seppuku ". Thus, by law, all his vassals became " ronins, " samurai without a master and therefore without legal certainty. Joshio decided to avenge his master. He and his companions broke into Yoshinak's palace, where they killed Yoshinak and laid his head on the grave of his prince. Then, of course, they gave up on the shogun. By their actions, they provided proof of utter vassal loyalty, but at the same time they committed disobedience to the shogun government. This dilemma of samurai ethics was solved by instructing them to perform seppuku, but at the same time they were exalted as a model of samurai loyalty and devotion and thus became the protagonist of all samurai. However, members of the suicide squads worshiped the samurai Kusinoki Mashige, who in 1336 performed a ceremonial seppuku so as not to betray the emperor. His emblem - the chrysanthemum - was then painted on their planes and ships.

An image of Oishi Yoshio committing seppuku
Hyogo Prefectural History Museum Collection,

At the time of the Meiji reforms ( 1841-1890 ), the Bushido Code was updated and its principles - loyalty, obedience, self-discipline, self-sacrifice for one's master - now directly the emperor - became the foundations of the newly built army.Death for the emperor is to become the culmination and goal of the samurai - now also a soldier - life. The preamble to the Bushido Code expresses contempt for life and loyalty to the emperor: “We will not die in peace and quiet. We will die alongside the ruler and creator. If we go out to sea, our bodies will be swallowed up by water; if we go to the mountains, our bodies will be covered with grass; Our life never ends anywhere . ” These words formed the basis of the old military song " Umi Jukaba ( Let's Go Forward) ", which accompanied the Japanese throughout their lives. Appropriately ideologically used, her words have become a terrible weapon, capable of exterminating even her own nation.


Japan has been a military state for at least a thousand years. In most countries of the world, the army is a servant of the state. In Japan, the military was a state in itself, as its leaders stood at its head. The army and navy determined the life of the Japanese and especially the upbringing of their children.

Compulsory lower secondary schooling ended at the age of nineteen. Already the young children had 4 hours of Japanese history lessons a week and sang patriotic " loyalty songs " in singing lessons with lyrics such as: " I can go to school side by side with my older brother because our heroic army and navy protect our homeland from the enemy. , so I can go to school . " At the end of each school year, the school prepared a comprehensive evaluation of the pupil, an essential part of which was the evaluation of physical fitness and the ratio of the pupil and his family to the armed forces. After graduation, these assessments were made available to the military.

Japanese school children receive military training in 1896, Kamakura, Japan

After completing this level of education, the graduate had three options: to go to work, to complete another, upper secondary school, or to enter a cadet school ( later a military school ). Everyone could enter here, regardless of the amount of property, after passing the entrance exams, which were based on knowledge of Japanese history, the sons of samurai families, knowledge of the Bushido Code and the principles of samurai life, the conclusion was a test of physical fitness.

The young Japanese had another chance to become an officer after graduating from high school. However, the test was more extensive and stricter, as "a higher impact of the adept in civilian life " was assumed. Therefore, these adepts also had less chance of achieving higher ranks. The young Japanese at the age of 22 had the last chance to become a professional soldier, after completing his basic military service. Here, too, the tests were much more demanding, and therefore these adepts often became only non-commissioned officers.

The retirement age for the Japanese was 20 years. About 150,000 young Japanese were abducted each year. The conscription, and thus the entire pre-military training, took place according to the regimental conscription, so the Japanese recruits performed military service near their place of residence. Their superior officers were able to go to families, talk to their parents about their sons and convince them of the benefits of joining the army, especially with reference to the seriousness of the military situation. For samurai families, persuasion was not necessary; for the first-born son, military craft was a duty. But with other families, the officers were often successful - thanks to the economic situation in Japan, the parents secured their son, but also themselves, by joining the army.

Immediately after the start, each conscript was subjected to a demanding physical examination, according to the result he was classified in category A - the best, of which officers were selected, B - the core of the armed forces consisted of those who had a weaker result of one or more exams and finally C - conscripts who failed all the tests.They were incorporated into auxiliary units such as cooks, paramedics, carriers of the wounded and the like.

During basic service, the soldier was subjected to intensive psychological processing by all means - the study of history, the singing of patriotic songs and the study of prescribed materials. Of these, for example, Emperor Mucuhit's "Imperial Order for Soldiers and Sailors " ( Military Oath ) of 1822 is a multi-page document that every member of the armed forces must have known by heart. He declares obedience to the emperor and faith in his divinity. In order for the soldiers to master the text perfectly, the soldiers spent a lot of time teaching this oath with the help of a stick in the commander's hand and its frequent use. Beating was something as common in the Japanese army as walking. Not only that, games were invented whose main content was beatings, such as " Hold on to a blow ". Two rows of soldiers stood facing each other, inflicting ruthless blows on their orders. Those who could not stand it received additional training, when he was " professionally trained " by non-commissioned officers or officers in their spare time. Not only was the adept beaten perfectly and professionally - but the beating had to survive, otherwise his " coach " had to commit seppuku. The emperor loved his soldiers! Weaker individuals died of exhaustion and were celebrated in their homes as exemplary soldiers. The others became numb, lost interest in life and were constantly fed ideological lessons, they became obedient tools.

The end result was a soldier trained in the spirit of the " Yamato Damascus " - the Yamato race, ready to carry out the idea of Japaneseism " Connecting the eight corners of the world under one roof " - the whole world under a single leader - the Japanese emperor, the leader of the Yamato race.

War gods - gunshins

Japan's war strategists needed to create models for the soldiers of the new era, an example of which would update the obligations set out in the Imperial Order and thus prepare the Japanese nation for war and the associated casualties.

Lieutenant Takeo Hirose became the first gunshin. He performed his heroic deed on March 20, 1905 in the port of Port Arthur. Admiral Togo decided to block the exit from the port to avoid being attacked by the Russian fleet, which was moored there. He had four large cargo liners loaded with explosives, saying that by their own destruction, these ships would block the relatively shallow entrance to the port, blocking it and trapping the Russian fleet inside. For this purpose, he needed volunteers who would come to the designated place with the ships and bring them to explosion there. It was clear that these crews had no hope of survival.

Lieutenant Hirose volunteered for this task, followed by his sailors (a total of 50 sailors and 22 officers were needed, it is not clear to me why the gunships were not declared by the others - at least the officers ). They occupied the 4 cargo steamers and accompanied by several small warships at 23.00 arrived at the entrance to the port. Although they sailed with the lights off and as quietly as possible, the Russian patrol found them far in front of where they were to be sunk, and immediately after being illuminated by port lights, the ships were set on fire by port artillery artillery. Their destruction was completed by Russian torpedoes, which sent ships to the bottom far from the entrance to the inner port. Only the wreckage and remains of Japanese sailors' bodies remained on the surface. From Lieutenant Hiros, the Japanese torpedo boats allegedly found only a head with the remains of the shoulders. Lieutenant Hiros' remains were stored in a decorative box and sent with a description of his heroic deed to Tokyo, where they were placed in front of the Yasukuni Shrine to great glory. On the same day, Emperor proclaims Hirose as the first modern-day gunshin.A table on the shrine wall describes his heroic deed.

The heroic deed of the heroin Takeo Hiros

The army had a hard time bearing the fact that the navy already had a gunslinger, while the ground forces did not. She didn't have to wait long. The first gunshin of the army was Baron Maresuke Nogi , a personal friend of Emperor Mucuhit , whom he had already helped in the fight against the last shogun. Nogi was a general, commander of the Japanese army, into which he brought many principles and practices of European war tactics and strategy. He led the Japanese army in the battles for the port of Port Arthur and eventually conquered this port, albeit at a very high cost of losing 100,000 soldiers, including his two sons. The thought of these losses constantly haunted him, so he asked the emperor for permission to carry out seppuku, which would wash away his share of the blame for the deaths of so many Japanese and the grief in their families. The emperor forbade him, but allowed him to do seppuku after his death, saying " I will be glad if you accompany me on my next journey ." When the emperor's death was announced in July 1912, Baron Noga went to the imperial palace, where he performed a ceremonial seppuku in collaboration with his longtime commander. The customer, of course, died with him. At the same time, Nogi's wife, Shizuku, stabbed her own dagger at home. The whole of Japan is revered for this act - the nation thinks it is an act of unsurpassed samurai allegiance to its master, because the close relationship between the two men was generally known. Only a select few knew the truth, but its publication did not change anything. The nogi remains the " gunshin of the gunshins " with the nickname "the most faithful of the faithful ." This title is also carved on monuments in his hometown of Chifu and at the tomb of Emperor Mucuhit.

Illustration of the gunner Nogi published in the magazine "Niva".

Other modern gunshins had to wait until 1932. In the fighting for Shanghai, soldiers Sakue, Kitagawa and Eshita from the 103rd Infantry Regiment wrapped grenades and explosives and, as " human bombs ", rushed to the position of Chinese defenders. Not only they but also forty-four Chinese died in the huge explosion. This is how the table in Yasukuni once described the course of the fight. During the verification, however, it turned out that the regiment commander adjusted the report - the three soldiers fell in a normal bayonet attack, but because it was necessary to raise combat morale, they were created gunshins. The commission, verifying the heroic deeds, settled the case in Solomon's case: it removed the table with the three names and replaced it with a table with the names of all the fallen members of this infantry division. The gap on the wall did not remain, the battlefield was observed and the truth was observed.

Three human bombs ( from left: Eshita, Sakue, Kitagawa )

The last pre-war, resp. the first warships were nine sailors who, with their mini-submarines, were to destroy the US Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In fact, ten of them sailed, but the badly injured Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki was captured by the Americans. In doing so, he violated the principles of combat ethics.For this he was expelled from the Japanese armed forces and officially forgotten.

Sakamaki's HA-19 in the shallows ,

(We can only recall the criminal provisions of other states - including the Czech Republic, which punish imprisonment, mostly by death ).

Novotný, Josef: Causa kamikaze. Our Army, Prague 1991.
Photogallery OHKA ( BAKA )


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Author : 🕔15.06.2004 📕26.232