Stone lanterns and
cherry blossoms line road
to Chiran Peace Museum
Japanese Views - Education
Japanese textbooks and teachers do not cover much about kamikaze pilots and
other special attack force members who made suicide attacks near the end of
World War II. The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and
Technology authorizes textbooks, but it has in the past refrained from approval of
textbooks with detailed
discussions of kamikaze pilots, primarily due to their association with
Japan's past militarism. However, in 2001 the Ministry authorized a junior high
school textbook compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform,
which many people have criticized for its distorted history that glosses over Japan's
wartime atrocities (Nakamura 2004). The Asahi Shimbun (2004), which
argues that the textbook lacks a balanced historical view, states:
Another characteristic of the textbook is that it stresses the importance
of devotion to the state. For example, it describes in detail the kamikaze
suicide pilots and cites the pilots' farewell messages and parting poems. The
book urges students to think about how people during the war must have felt.
The Japan Times (Nakamura 2004) reports that only about 0.1% of junior
high schools in Japan have adopted the textbook, but supporters of the book argue
that it tries "to instill in children a love for their country through
school education" and promotes "respect for Japan's traditional
Although nationally few schools address kamikaze pilots in their curriculum
and textbooks, several teachers in elementary schools in Kagoshima Prefecture
have developed one-hour classes for use in their social studies or ethics
curriculum. During the Battle of Okinawa, almost all kamikaze pilots made sorties
from Kagoshima Prefecture air bases in Kanoya, Chiran, Kushira, Kokubu, and
other towns. After the war, several museums related to kamikaze pilots opened in
Kagoshima Prefecture to keep alive the memory of kamikaze pilots. The Teacher's Organization of Skill
Sharing (TOSS) in Kagoshima published a book in 2003 entitled Kōkū
tokkō "Chiran" o jugyō suru (Teaching classes about
"Chiran" aerial special attacks). This book presents lesson plans
from sixteen different elementary school teachers in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The small town of Chiran in Kagoshima Prefecture sponsors an annual speech
contest, which includes divisions for junior
high school and high school
students. The speech contest rules allow high school students from all over
Japan to participate, but about 90% come from Kagoshima. The speech committee
restricts junior high participants to Kagoshima, primarily due to the difficulty
children from other prefectures would have in traveling to Kagoshima. About two
thousand students submit speech drafts to the contest each year.
In the 1990s, the following two movies about kamikaze pilots received
recommendations by Japan's Ministry of Education, National Congress of Parents
& Teachers, Japan Film Society, and other groups.
Although recommended for viewing by children, both movies are for all ages. Nijuuroku ya mairi (A Moon Twenty-six Days Old),
another 1990s film about kamikaze pilots, has a young girl as one of the main
Several kamikaze-related Japanese
books for children have been published in recent years, including a picture
book for young children about three kamikaze pilots who make friends with an
eight-year-old girl on the night before they sortie from Chiran Air Base.
Asahi Shimbun. 2004. Editorial: Textbook controversy.
August 28. <http://www.asahi.com/english/opinion/TKY200408280188.html>
(August 30, 2004), link no longer available.
Nakamura, Akemi. 2004. Board OKs nationalist-bent history
text. The Japan Times. August 27. <http://18.104.22.168/print/news/nn08-2004/nn20040827a2.htm>
(November 30, 2004), link no longer available.