‘Kamikaze’ heritage tourism in Japan: A pathway to peace and understanding?

Sharpley, Richard Anthony john orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2135-3206 (2020) ‘Kamikaze’ heritage tourism in Japan: A pathway to peace and understanding? Journal of Heritage Tourism, 15 (6). pp. 709-726. ISSN 1743-873X

[thumbnail of Author Accepted Manuscript]
PDF (Author Accepted Manuscript) - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/1743873X.2020.1758117


Reflecting the wider belief that international tourism offers the opportunity to encourage peace and understanding amongst peoples and nations, one objective of Japan’s recent tourism development policy is the enhancement of mutual understanding and the promotion of international peace. The purpose of this paper is to consider the extent to which this objective is achievable, particularly in the context of continuing controversy surrounding the country’s confrontation of its twentieth century military heritage in general and its role in the Pacific War in particular. Based on research at two ‘difficult’ heritage sites, Chiran Peace Museum in Kagoshima Prefecture and Yūshūkan War Museum in Tokyo, it explores specifically how the kamikaze phenomenon is commemorated and interpreted for international visitors, in so doing revealing a significant degree of dissonance at both sites. Not only is a selective narrative of heroic sacrifice presented within a wider revisionist history of the Pacific War but also no attempt is made to acknowledge the prevailing cultural context that might underpin a more nuanced understanding of the kamikaze. Hence, the paper concludes that a meaningful opportunity to enhance international understanding has been missed.

Repository Staff Only: item control page