A banned essay written by a Japanese novelist applauding the spirit of suicidal kamikaze pilots during World War II has been found among a collection of war-related documents in the U.S., researchers told Kyodo News on Saturday.
The essay by the late Ango Sakaguchi (1906-1955) was scheduled to be printed in a magazine in 1947, but the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces, which occupied Japan at the time, suppressed it because of “militaristic” features of the essay, titled “Dedicated to Suicidal Kamikaze Attackers.” Sakaguchi is widely regarded as one of the greatest literary figures in modern Japan.
The researchers found the eight-page essay recently among the Prange Collection at the University of Maryland.
Sakaguchi proposed that Japan abandon its restrictive customs of the past in his 1946 work, “Darakuron” (“On Falling”), and as a novelist was known for his rejection of the commonly held views of prewar Japan.
The Imperial Japanese Army’s kamikaze pilots, famous for their suicide attacks on enemy warships, were active in the last couple of years of the war, which ended in 1945.
“I curse war most of all, but will praise kamikaze pilots forever,” Sakaguchi said in the essay, preserved by Gordon Prange (1910-1980), a history professor. at the university.
He also said that what was “cruel” was not the kamikaze strategy but war itself and that soldiers are nothing but puppets.
In the essay, which is believed to have been written around April 1946, Sakaguchi described the pilots as patriots who sacrificed themselves for their country and “supreme figures,” adding that kind of spirit “has been dying out recently.”
The Prange Collection has preserved 700,000 newspaper dispatches, 13,000 magazine files, 10,000 news photos and other printed matter censored by the Allies between 1945 and 1949, when censorship was lifted, according to its Web site.