[FOUNTAIN]Kamikaze: Forerunners of Terror

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[FOUNTAIN]Kamikaze: Forerunners of Terror

Dear Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi,

How busy you must be. You must be having hectic days preparing domestic contingency plans and discussing collaborative measures with one of your closest allies, the United States. You even canceled your plans to visit four Southeast Asian countries.

Right after the terrorist attacks, in a phone call with President George W. Bush, you said, "I express my deepest sympathy toward the innocent victims of such a cowardly terrorist attack and strongly support the United States' position in fighting terrorism." You are certainly right. The terrorist incident is a most contemptible atrocity that can never be justified by any logic. Of course there are people who said, "You reap as you sow," finding justification in the United States' supposed global hegemony. Schadenfreude is a German word for the indirect enjoyment nasty-natured people find in others' misfortune.

A number of the world's newspapers and broadcasters, in reporting the terror attacks, compared them to the surprise attack by your country on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii 60 years ago. A newspaper in Germany edited and placed pictures of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon side by side. Kamikaze, or suicide squads, were often mentioned. You must think this comparison unfair. You must wonder how someone can compare a holy and honorable kamikaze self-sacrifice to the terrorist attacks.

But, what can we do? All citizens of the world, except Japanese, consider the terrorist attack comparable to the kamikaze attacks. Is there any difference between the suicide units that hailed the Japanese emperor as they flew into American warships and the terrorists who must have shouted, "If Allah wills it," as they crashed into the World Trade Towers? In a recent interview with Agence France-Presse, an old Japanese, once a kamikaze member, found a similarity between the kamikaze and the terrorists in their fanaticism and blind willingness to die. He also said few of the kamikaze really wanted to die.

I consider the terrorist attacks the 21st-century version of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the kamikaze. The terrorists must have conceived the idea of this attack from your ancestors.

Can you guess why I am writing this letter to you? I ask you directly and straightforwardly: Do you still think the kamikaze died nobly? Does your heart still ail at the thought of pains the Kamikaze squads must have gone through? Do you still shed tears when you look at their portraits? I wish you good health.

Sincerely yours,

The writer is Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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