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Post Bushido and the Cult of Death
Created by John Eipper on 01/09/18 3:45 AM

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Bushido and the Cult of Death (Istvan Simon, USA, 01/09/18 3:45 am)

The diary of the Japanese soldier who died on Saipan at age 26 (see Brian Blodgett, 5 January) is on the one hand a moving document of one man's dedication to the culture he was raised in, and on the other it illustrates the insane fanaticism of that culture. It led to a dead end, and to a certain extent that culture also died with Japan's defeat in World War II. I believe that in modern Japan, after the Japanese defeat, this culture was transformed into a less fanatical version, less militaristic and in my opinion more humane.

The soldier's point of view is that of the Samurai code of honor, in which "duty" and loyalty to the fiefdom war lord the Samurai was serving takes precedence over anything else. In the Samurai code of honor life is unimportant, unless lived with "honor," and so we have the insanity of ritual suicide, a means to end life when to continue living would be possible only if the loyalty bond were broken. It is unfortunate that it did not occur to the Japanese soldier that there was an alternative to ending his life at age 26, that he could have surrendered to the "American devils" and survived and that there would be no dishonor in that at all, because clearly his death did not serve any meaningful purpose under the circumstances.

The Samurai code of honor emphasized a "good death" over a life. It is a culture of death over life, and so from my point of view it is a form of insanity.

JE comments:  Oh Honor, the horrors commit in thy name!  But every culture develops is own sense of honor.  In the US it's the "professional reputation," while for others it's the necessity, say, of controlling the women in your family.

Can anyone give us a sense of how Japanese POWs were treated in their homelands after their return?  Had Japan won the war, it's safe to say they would have lived under permanent shame and ostracism.

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