Though suicide bombings are, these days, mostly associated with current terrorist attacks, the truth is that they became a popular military tactic in World War II. Soldiers undertaking a suicide mission were especially popular in the last years, and by the Japanese empire, who created whole units of the bombers intended to die. These men were called kamikaze pilots, named for a Japanese phrase meaning “Divine Wind.” Motivations After the Battle of Midway, the Japanese encountered increasing losses. Their manufacturing capabilities could not keep up, their pilots were dying and being replaced with men who lacked adequate training and the Pacific War was being lost, with the Americans creeping closer and closer to the Japanese home islands. To counter this, the Japanese military became increasingly open to the idea of suicide pilots. Those pilots, whose ships could be loaded with explosives, could more accurately hit their targets than an unmanned missile. The decision to use these pilots also spoke to the desperation of the military. Volunteers The first suicide bombers were not actually designated kamikaze pilots at all, but rather regular soldiers who made the decision to take out as many of the enemy as possible rather than die more quietly or be captured. This choice was not limited to the Japanese, but provided them with the idea. When they decided to create an entire unit of kamikaze pilots, the Japanese air force chose a group of 24 men. According to reports, this first group volunteered entirely on their own, happy for the opportunity to serve their country. However, at least one of the pilots Lt. Seki, is reported to have said afterwards he participated solely because he was commanded to. When the tactics became used more frequently, volunteers were accepted, usually possessing only a minimum of flying ability. According to the military, many were eager to prove themselves or restore their honour by volunteering for the country. They were described as being joyful and proud to serve. Still, there is some lingering controversy, as others have described the recruits as unwilling, despondent and reluctant. Success and Failure There were both successes and failures associated with the kamikaze pilots, though success was limited. It cantered on the fact that the Japanese were able to take out a number of American ships and soldiers. Likewise, it doubled as an act of psychological warfare, as many Americans were unsettled by the sight of so many pilots flying to their deaths. However, the most important objective was not achieved: the pilots were not able to prevent the advancement of the Allied powers into the Japanese home islands and the war was lost.