Posted by James Gomez under Features on 23 December 2000

Some 6 000 soldiers died in suicide missions during the last stages of World War II. They attacked through a variety of instruments such as a one-man torpedo and air and navy bombers. An amphibian saboteur was also in the planning, but that never really took-off from the drawing board. Nevertheless it killed quite a few people used in the making of the prototype.

These young soldiers are still considered some of Japan's bravest if not unsung war heroes. Such attacks used to strike terror in the hearts of Japan's military enemies even though the suicide attackers never effectively helped to win the war.

These and other war related exhibits are located at the Yushukan Museum in the Yasukuni shrine and temple grounds, not far from the Imperial Palace. Some letters by Japanese soldiers state that their bodies are not their own but possessions of the state. Often in the last letters to their families their indicate that they are going on their final sortie. This is a type of patriotism not equaled elsewhere if we discount the suicide terrorist attacks of the IRA, Tamil Tigers or the Palestinians each fighting for some form of independent homeland.

Although both Japanese and foreigners visit these exhibits, it is deemed for many of Japan's top political leaders as being politically incorrect to accord any official visit to the shrine on whose temple grounds reside the Yushukan museum.

Nevertheless come New Year, the temple grounds will be filled with thousands of visitors as they take in the festivities with their family and friends. Many of whom will drop in to visit the museum.

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