Japanese Patriotism And Ethnocentrism Told Through The Book: Requiem For Battleship Yamato

1361 words - 5 pages

Requiem for Battleship Yamato is a paradigm of the enduring warrior spirit in Japan. Though subtle in its revelation, patriotism and ethnocentrism both played major roles in the way Yoshida thought and wrote. The heroic patriotism of Yoshida and his shipmates is best shown by the manner in which many of them choose to die. The book was more a journal of the ways in which his comrades died than a historical recount. No native of Japan, much less a survivor of the battleship Yamato could have not been influenced by both a strong sense of patriotism and ethnocentrism.The intended mission of the battleship Yamato was itself the zenith of Japanese patriotism. Patriotism is simply a love of and dedication to one's country. No one can doubt the pride members of the Yamato had in fighting for their country. As one crewman stated "Isn't it enough to wear on your breast the chrysanthemum emblem of the special attack force and to die with 'long live the emperor' on your lips?" (p41) Although there were arguments against only that as a reason to die, no one doubted the statement's validity. On more than one instance in the book Yoshida scolds himself for faltering. When his fear seizes him for a moment he thinks "Ah, what a coward! Deadening your senses now by taking refuge in alcohol." (p20) Yoshida may not recognize it as patriotism but clearly he shows his love of his country simply in his attitude. In keeping with the warrior code of samurai during Japan's feudal period Yoshida doesn't allow himself to be taken by fear and thinks to embrace death, to die with honor. He wishes not to stain himself or his country with shame. Yoshida writes "I too naturally reach for my side, touching the line readied some time ago." (p107) He is referring to a line he would use to tie himself down to the ship so that his body would not float to the surface and so he wouldn't struggle to get to the surface when the ship went down because that would be considered shameful. Yoshida's willingness to die for his country is apparent, as he writes "if we try to get away now, what has been the purpose of this special attack mission?" (p108) The entire mission was undoubtedly destined to fail and its intended purpose was only to prove Japan's valor. In the guise of an assault on American forces in Okinawa, the true face of the special attack force was "to be a decoy." (p35) Everything Yoshida writes has carries a great respect and admiration for actions that bestowed honor onto someone or the empire.Ethnocentrism comes into play but not so much in the exact context of the word itself. Ethnocentrism is believing that your specific ethnic group is superior to all others. What Yoshida and his shipmates believed in was only the superiority of their way of thinking. Their beliefs in honor, bravery, discipline, an honorable death and other such values are what they believe to be superior. Notably the crew of the Yamato mentions on various occasions their admiration for the manner in...

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