Bushido: commitment to fight until annihilation
Bushido is the code of chivalry that outlined the ethics and morals of the noble warrior class of feudal Japan. The samurai, who were part of this class, had to base their ways of fighting and their vocation on seven virtues: loyalty, honor, honesty, respect, compassion, courage and justice. Bushido was part of the codes and philosophies of feudal warfare —like that of European chivalry—, which were based on living for honor and loyalty to their Lord and were strongly influenced by the religious and moral doctrines present in the European and Asian continents
In the Pacific war, the Japanese had shown that each island was a jungle fortress and men willing to die for their nation and their emperor. This is revealed by the fierce resistances of Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, where poorly armed and poorly fed Japanese recruits and conscripts faced the US Marines to the death in a desperate resistance, where the slogan was win or die eliminating as many enemies as possible. possible.
A broad estimate indicates that the cost of invading the islands of the Japanese archipelago, defended by these Japanese soldiers, would bring casualties close to 10 million between both sides. In this sense, Truman’s policy understood that the use of atomic bombs would avoid further bloodshed by terrorizing the ultranationalists of the Japanese Empire.
The origin of this nationalism goes back to millennial wealth, based on narrations of heroes and myths, builders of a tradition present in Japanese thought and philosophy, where self-sacrifice for a greater good, a lord or a State, has a place. The latter is explained by studying the Shinto belief system, originated from the conception of the imperial family –the oldest reigning house in the world– as a direct descendant of Amaterasu (the divinity of the sun).
This gave their patriarch a status of ‘living divinity’ that was even ratified by the Japanese constitution of 1889. For the Japanese military, the cultural traditions and historical dignity of the famous samurai determined their behavior in the face of adversity in battle during the Second World War.
This attitude is illustrated by the first major military defeat of the Japanese Empire in World War II (Battle of Midway, 1942), in which Vice Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, aboard the aircraft carrier Hiryu, damaged by American attacks, orders his men to abandon of the ship with which he would sink. The weight of moral and cultural ties built around the bushido prevented a warrior from continuing to live after the shame of not achieving victory for his lord.
This heroic attitude was replicated by the famous and mythical kamikaze pilots, or ‘divine wind’, whose sole purpose was to die for the ‘heavenly sovereign’. ‘Ritual suicide’ characterized Japanese militarism, strengthened since the end of the 19th century, within the framework of Western imperialism in the East, which left Japan as the most powerful modern state on the Asian continent.
So deeply ingrained was this warmongering ethos at all levels of Japanese society that on August 14, 1945, days after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a group of military extremists under the command of Major Kenji Hatanaka tried to break into the imperial palace, in a last-ditch attempt to place him under house arrest and prevent the monarch from recording his famous surrender speech.
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