The Global Asia Research Center holds a special online workshop by Nick Kapur, an Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University.

Title: The Invention of the Kamikaze:Coercion and Resistance in the Japanese Military

Lecturer: Nick Kapur (Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University)

Date & Time: July 28(Wed), 2021, 10:00-12:00 (Japan Time)

Language: English

Eligible Participant: students, faculty members and public

Contact: globalasia-office [at]


This paper investigates the emergence of “special attack” (tokkō, a.k.a. kamikaze) tactics within the Japanese military in the final phases of the Pacific War, as well as signs of resistance and opposition to these tactics by mid-ranking officers from nonelite backgrounds. In contrast to standard narratives in popular culture and academic literature that portray these tactics as the culmination of years or even decades of imperial state propaganda and military doctrine that were at least widely accepted if not embraced, I aim to demonstrate the contested nature of these tactics at the time by looking beyond the already much-discussed diaries of elite college students, who are overrepresented in scholarly literature but in fact comprised less than one quarter of all “special attack” forces. I hope to understand the roots of
these unusual tactics as arising from the decisions of individual senior officers and not so much in a timeless and essentialized Japanese culture posited by popular culture and some notable previous scholarship.