NEWS Japanese Suicide Bombers: Kaiten, Kamikaze, and the Kewpie Doll

Recently in the news here in Japan was the recall (or rather cancellation) of the sales of a certain Kewpie doll. The Kewpie is cute and therefore extremely popular in Japan, so one company decided to make a Japanese Soldier/Sailor series of cell phone straps using these dolls. These were only sold at small shops outside of the Self-Defense Forces bases, but the shops are open to the general populace. In addition, the straps were available online.

A few different versions came out last year without any trouble, but the release of the Kaiten sailors and Ohka soldiers drew the wrath of a number of high-ranking politicians as well as a small public outcry. Here is a photo of the offending toy:

The little doll has ‘Kaiten 回天’ written on his shirt and he also wears the IJN headband (Imperial Japanese Navy 日本帝国海軍). Why the fuss? Well, depicting a Kewpie doll as a Japanese soldier or sailor caused no stir, but the Kaiten sailors were young men coerced into suicide missions. You can read more about them HERE. They were the men who propelled the small torpedoes into whatever target they could find.

Another version also cancelled (no picture) is a kamikaze soldier wearing a shirt saying ‘Cherry Blossom 桜花,’ the name of the kamikaze pilots’ plane. This is commonly known as the Ohka. Read more HERE.

Making light of the suicide torpedoes and the kamikaze pilots did not go over well, and the straps were cancelled, shops returning any remaining stock.

No doubt these will appear on the secondary market for astronomical prices. They originally sold for 500 yen.

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Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 11:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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