The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



suicide-mission volunteers in the Japanese armed forces during World War II. The concept of forming teishintai detachments was based on bushido—the medieval moral and religious code of the samurai warrior—which demanded unquestioning obedience and contempt for death. Those volunteers who perished gained the status of holy protectors of Japan. The general rule of the teishintai was self-sacrifice for the purpose of destroying superior enemy forces.

There were several different types of teishintai. Kamikaze pilots in the navy flew suicide missions against ships; those in the air force were to destroy heavy bombers, tanks, railroad bridges, and other important targets. Suicide parachutists were dispatched to destroy airplanes and fuel supplies at enemy air bases by means of explosives and flamethrowers. Teishintai ground forces were directed against enemy tanks, artillery, and officers; there was particularly widespread training of such forces in the Kwantung Army, which in 1945 had suicide battalions in each division as well as a special suicide brigade. Some naval teishintai (the shinyo, who operated in the Philippines) used high-speed cutters carrying explosives to blow up enemy transport vessels. Others operating in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere were sent in miniature submarines (kairyu and koryu) and torpedoes (kaichen, or laichen) to destroy enemy warships.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.