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Were Japanese Kamikaze Pilots Given Drugs?

4/8/2014 • Ask Mr. History

Is there any truth that the Japanese Kamikaze pilots had a stimulant or other drug put in their last ceremonial saki drink to help them perform and die without realization of what was truly happening?

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Dear Whomever,

Although the Japanese first developed methamphetamine (generically called hiropon and sold legally until 1951), here is no evidence that the Japanese navy or army made a practice of administering it to “Special Attack” pilots, who, whether as volunteers or acting under orders, were motivated sufficiently by peer pressure regarding “honor” and the devastation of their home cities, evident all around them, to defend their homeland by any means possible. There were some instances of hiropon being tried out on night fighter pilots to enhance their alertness and vision—which makes a lot more sense than using it on suicide pilots—but it was soon discontinued due to concerns over the side effects. (Editor’s note: To learn more about why Japanese pilots volunteered for these suicide missions, read “A Kamikaze Who Lived to Tell the Tale,” originally published in World War II magazine.)



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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2 Responses to Were Japanese Kamikaze Pilots Given Drugs?

  1. Jay Hotrum says:

    I’m sorry but your answer is not really accurate. There actually is plenty of evidence that the Japanese Kamikaze pilots did indeed use methamphetemines as a final ritual before jumping in their planes…there are pictures of historical value and I do find it odd that historians like yourself always seem to separate the meth use from the history of the wars themselves. The Japanese even introduced the drug to the Germans who mass produced the drug in pill form and fed it to virtually all of their troops, and everyone is aware that Hitler was a full time user who eventually traded up to intravenous use…This is documented in the book Quit Meth Now among other places as well…

  2. Jay Hotrum says:

    Some of these are incorrect statements. But this is the job of the historian; to document historical data but not to hypothesize on aspects pertaining to possible causation or to offer incites which draw conclusions outside of the story itself. The Japanese were absolutely involved in using methamphetamine as a weapon of war. They invented it, they perfected it, and they aligned with the Nazi empire pre-WWII to maximize production and dissemination the drug to most of the troops on both regimes, responsible for some of the most violent and outrageous human rights abuses in the history of the world. Not only were the Japanese Kamikaze pilots taking meth before their deaths, they were taking Pervitin…the German version of crystal meth in pill form…so, there’s your connection. Feel free to read my paper, with citations…by googling my name and “drugs and politics. What happens when rational actors become addicted to mind altering drugs?” Jay Hotrum

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