DER Documentary

The Last Kamikaze: Testimonials from WWII Suicide Pilots

by Masami Takahashi
color, 55 min, 2007

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This film explores the minds of former suicide bombers who participated in the first well-orchestrated suicide mission in modern history, the one carried out by the air arm of the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII. Although in the beginning, these suicide pilots were university graduates and intellectual elites in their 20s, by 1942 the Navy was aggressively recruiting a large number of boys who were only in their low teens. Fortunately, some never flew their final suicide mission because the war ended before it was their turn to fly out.

The producer/director interviews several friends of his deceased father (who was also a former suicide pilot) in order to understand the mindset and motives behind such an extraordinary behavior. Now in their 70s and 80s, these individuals reflect upon their past and talk candidly about their lives, issues related to patriotism, spirituality, and on-going turmoil in the Middle East.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
East Asia: Trans-regional workshop, University of Chicago., 2008
American Anthropological Association, Washington DC, 2007
American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA, 2007
Foley Center at the Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 2007
Asian American Heritage Conference, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL, 2007
Loyola University, Chicago, IL, 2007
Psychological Society of South Africa Conference, Cape Town, 2009
Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, 2009

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts