Japan is arguing that a collection of letters left behind by kamikaze pilots in the Second World War should be included in a United Nations list of important world history documents. The proposal, which would put the documents on par with Anne Frank’s diary, drew criticism from regional rivals who claimed it was the latest example of rising Japanese nationalism.
China, with whom Japan has a strained relationship over disputed territories in the South China Sea, made it clear that it opposed the proposal. The state news agency Xinhua ran an editorial under the headline “Kamikaze Letters Bid for World Memory Disgraces Japan Itself”. China also made reference to Hitler, claiming that Japan’s proposal is just as absurd as somebody filing an application for Hitler’s Mein Kampf to be included in the UN list.
During the war, around 4,000 Japanese pilots died as they tried to crash into ships in a futile attempt to stop the Allied advance towards Japan’s main islands. In the letters, some of them write movingly to their families and about reconciling themselves to dying so young.