Kendo Expert Alexander Bennett Has Hand in WWII Kamikaze Pilot’s Memoir
New Zealand-born scholar of Japanese history and martial arts Alexander Bennett has joined forces with fellow kendo practitioner, Shigeru Ohta, to write the English version of World War II kamikaze pilot Kazuo Odachi’s memoir, which is out in September. Louise George Kittaka writes about the book in a story for The Japan Times.
Born in 1926, Odachi grew up during the years just before World War II when Japan was already expanding its military activities. He tells the Times it was assumed that most young men would eventually be called to serve their country. In 1944, he was assigned to the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. His mission was to crash planes into enemy vessels, making the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
“You weren’t supposed to talk about it once the war had ended, and so I kept quiet,” Odachi says.
Bennett says, “I hope that this book will take some of the mystique away from the kamikaze pilots and allow people to see them for who they really were – young men who were ensnared in a global maelstrom of savagery way beyond their understanding, and who survived from day to day without complaint.”
“[This book] is a timely reminder of the precariousness of life and how we are all vulnerable to forces beyond our control,” Bennett says. “His story gave me a sense of hope with regard to the resilience of humanity in the most testing times of adversity.”
Bennett was born in Christchurch in 1970. He lives in Kyoto.
Original article by Louise George Kittaka, The Japan Times, August 15, 2020.