K – Kamikaze

Kamikaze is a suicide based on the belief of dying honorably for ones country. The Japanese name of this practice is called “gyokusai”, which translates to “broken jade.” The belief of gyokusai comes from a quote in a Chinese book called the Book of Northern Qi.

“A great man should die as a shattered jewel rather than live as an intact tile.”

-Book of Northern Qi

Origin of Kamikaze fighting

This belief comes from old samurai codes, Bushido, or more specifically Seppuku. A ritual sword suicide performed in order to die with honor. Kamikaze pilots flew their planes, often loaded with explosives, into allied battleships as they advanced on Japan. Kamikaze translates to “divine wind”, which describes this flying style of suicide, considered martyrdom by the Japanese army.

The Banzai charge

Kamikaze is similar to another Japanese fighting technique, the “banazi” charge. Banzai is the strategy of rushing enemy soldiers at close range as a last ditch effort to cause damage, and more importantly in order to die with honor. For this reason the difference between kamikaze and banzai  is that banzai was not always suicide, at times it was even effective. The Kamikaze attacks sunk many allied ships and caused a great loss of life, both for the Allied sailors and the Japanese Kamikaze fighters.  But in the end, these attacks failed to halt the Allied advance.