Banzai and Kamikaze – Page 1

Banzai and Kamikaze – Page 1

Naoyoshi Fukushima

During World War II, the Japanese thought we were defending and fighting for the expansion of the kingdom of god. We were taught and we believed that Emperor Hirohito was the one true living god. We were forced to seek first and serve the kingdom of god. Everything else became secondary. Many gave their lives and died for the sake of this kingdom. It was customary for soldiers to shout “Banzai” as they faced their death. It does not mean “Yee-haw!” or “Watch out!” It is a benediction, a prayer for blessing. Banzai means (Ban =10,000 and zai = years) live long or live forever, obviously not for themselves because they were going to die. They were saying, “For your sake, Emperor, we will gladly die, so long life for you, and may your kingdom be established forever.” “Live long and prosper!”

When Japan lost the war and surrendered to the allied forces, General MacArthur gave a condition that in order for Hirohito to remain as the Emperor, he had to make an official proclamation that he was not divine but only a human being. So he did and so he survived.

There was another man in the Bible who claimed to be the Son of the living God, Jesus of Nazareth. He was put on trial and ultimately executed because he would not take back his claim to be the Son of God. His message for us from the cross as he faced his own death was banzai. Not long life for himself but for us. “I, the Son of God will die on your behalf, so that you can live eternally.” “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

The message of the cross is banzai. Jesus said he was the Good Shepherd and the proof was the cross and the resurrection. He laid down his life for the sheep so that the sheep can have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10) The only god Japan has known is a man we elevated so high that we could not touch him. The God of the Bible came down so that he could touch us, heal us, and lift us high. We thought we had to protect our god by laying our lives down for him. The God of the Bible laid down his life so that we can live. Even today we cannot enter the Imperial Palace proper. We can approach our God’s throne of grace anytime in Christ. In Him we become children of the King, members of the royal family.

Towards the end of the World War II, we came to realize that we were losing the war. We were becoming desperate and came up with the kamikaze mission scheme. Kamikaze does not mean a crazy, reckless driver. Kami = god and kaze = wind; so it means the wind of god or the divine wind. There is a reason why this mission was called kamikaze. Several centuries ago when Genghis Kan conquered China as well as most of Asia and Europe. They decide to conquer Japan, too. It would have been a piece of cake for them. They made two attempts but both times their naval fleets were wiped out by the typhoons. We thought the wind was from god, hence kamikaze.

In the Pacific War, we needed kamikaze again to wipe out our enemies. But it did not look like it was coming. The US Navy had better ships and a better weather forecasting system. We figured that we would be kamikaze ourselves. Many young pilots were sent on this mission and never came back. We only provided them with enough fuel to make it out there and not back. The planes were so designed that it could not come back. One of our preachers was a Navy engineer who designed a switch which enabled the pilot to drop the wheels after take off, so that the wheels could be used again for other kamikaze planes. Kamikaze mission failed and we lost the war.

There is a true kamikaze story in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. The word spirit can be translated “wind.” Then the Holy Spirit is the true kamikaze. The book of Acts is the Acts of God or the Holy Spirit. So the book of Acts is the story of kamikaze that swept Judea, Samaria, the Roman world, and beyond.

In the first chapter of Acts, the apostles were told to wait for the Spirit. The book of Acts is a testimony that the church of Christ and its mission work is the act of God from the beginning to the end. We do not know what happened to Paul but it does not matter because Paul is not the main character of the story; God is. The Acts of God continues. It is what Christ continues to do with the Spirit through us. So the true kamikaze story is in the Bible. The book of Acts is a story of people who were saved, inspired, and driven by the Spirit or the wind of God. It gives us a true picture of a successful kamikaze ministry and the impact of the true banzai message on the lives of people who believed.

Banzai and Kamikaze – Page 2

Return to Articles on Japan