After those pilots died in a suicide attack, the Japanese military would give a two-rank promotion, allowing their family to receive a larger pension. Therefore, the death of Kamikaze pilots was the ultimate way to honor their parents and fulfilling their filial commitments. Another reason for the kamikaze attacks was the rise of the feelings of xenophobia for the enemy through Japanese nationalism and patriotism (Ohnuki-Tierney, 2010).
Although, the fear of Western dominance began centuries earlier when the first European traders arrived upon the island’s shores, but the tension became more intense in the Second World War. Despite the fact that Japan indeed profoundly adopted the Western concepts and innovation during the late nineteenth century to modernize both the country’s economy and military power, Japan did not intend to become one with the Western nations, but actually aimed to establish itself as the leading power of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere to be completely free from Western influence. As the Americans began to draw near Japan, many Japanese soldiers and civilians would either fight until they die or perform Seppuku rather than live through an American occupation of their precious homeland. Corresponding to the history of Western exploitation in Asia, many Kamikaze pilots feared that the Western invasion would destroy the Japanese way of life, so they really believed that their sacrifice would make a difference in the defense of their home islands. Viewing their deaths as a last choice against Western invasion, many kamikazes held xenophobic beliefs that drove them to commit suicide attacks in order to save Japan from foreign enemies that would certainly destroy its traditions and inflict pain upon its people. Regarding the Evolutionary Psychology, Hamilton’s theory of inclusive fitness is another potential explanation under the umbrella of biological adaptation in configuring the actions of Kamikaze pilots. W. D.
Hamilton developed the inclusive fitness theory based on Darwin’s theory of natural selection to deal with the inclusive fitness, a total fitness of an individual owing to the effects to their own actions on their own individual fitness, through the use of Hamilton’s rule to predict the direction of selection on some social trait (Marshall, 2011). Through the adaptive mechanisms, Japanese students volunteered to become Kamikaze pilots because they were psychologically motivated by affection, and loyalty to their families. An Evolutionary Account of Suicide Attacks: The Kamikaze Case written by John Orbell and Tomonori Morikawa (2011), Hamilton’s rule justifies the Kamikaze attacks as the way that a gene for altruism could survive under the condition of rB > C where r is the gene relatedness of the recipient to the actor; B is the reproductive benefit gained by the recipient’s altruistic action; and, C is the reproductive cost to the altruist (p.5). Through this equation of cognitive algorithm, “a gene supporting altruism directed toward family member could, by this model, spread through a population – and an appropriate algorithm would look something like IF certain individuals, under threat of some kind, are sufficiently close kin AND IF my death will save the reproductive lives of those individuals THEN incur emotions (or other proximate mechanism) that would support suicide altruism” (Orbell & Morikawa, 2011, p. 7).
In addition to the cognitive algorithm, there are three main proximate mechanisms to support the Kamikaze case: religion did not motivate the suicide act; the Kamikaze pilots were aware of their critical role in preventing foreign invasion of the Japanese homeland and associated their deaths with a beautifully honorable way to die; and, the beneficiary that the Kamikaze pilots recognized form their pending deaths was the nation of Japan. Even though, Japan and the Emperor were the actual intended beneficiaries in this case, but it still counts as adapted mechanism whose consequence is the advancement of families’ reproductive interests. Accordingly, Orbell and Morikawa (2011) developed the cognitive algorithm based on the Kamikaze pilot’s understanding of the war situation for implementing a suicide attack campaign as “IF my kinship group is under dire threat from a powerful aggressor, AND IF my death is a necessary cost of mitigating that threat, THEN emotions and other mechanisms supporting a willingness to accept that death” (p.
19). Nonetheless, this version of cognitive algorithm did not explicitly address the importance of military leaders or strategies; it also did not explain the fact that the Kamikaze pilots saw themselves as dying for their nations since there was not a plausible kinship group in terms that would satisfy the logic of inclusive fitness (Orbell & Morikawa, 2011). Henceforth, the logic of Hamilton’s rule supports natural selection in willingness to sacrifice one’s life for relatively close kin, but a concern for saving lives of kin was not peculiarly motivating for Kamikaze pilots while a concern for mitigating Japan’s dire military situation seemed to have been powerfully motivating. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that the ideology of dying for Japan and the Emperor is considered as an empty nationalistic rhetoric disguising the pilot’s real concern for saving their close kin from the dangers of a forthcoming foreign invasion, Orbell and Morikawa (2011) claim that the association between selective pressures and coalitional fighting contributed to the coalition’s military success in Kamikaze attacks because the coalition of kinship groups comprise a substantial number of individuals who would fight and die for those who were not close kin.
In the context of coalitional warfare, natural selection promotes genes that led an individual to respond to all members of the coalition as if they were close kin (Orbell & Morikawa, 2011). As a result, Orbell and Morikawa (2011) finally modified the cognitive algorithm as “IF my coalition is under dire threat from a powerful aggressor, AND IF my death is a necessary cost of mitigating that threat, THEN respond to members of one’s coalition as if all its members were relatively close kin, AND emotions and other mechanisms supporting a willingness to accept that death” (p.21).