Were Japanese World War II Soldiers as High as Kites? by John Steele
One of the shameful things I do is to get emails from a variety of geek sites because… well… you never know, something useful might come up. Quoro.com is a bit too Left for my taste but sometimes something catches my eye before I hit the delete icon.
In response to the question: “Which Weapon of Japan did U.S. Fear Most in WWII,” William Tait MacDonald, resident of Japan replies: methamphetamine:
“I noticed with interest that many of the people writing here have written about the Japanese soldier’s willingness to die for their country, but have wrongly attributed it to love for Japan, love for the Emperor, honor, bushido or being just plain suicidal.
The answer is far more interesting, and is relevant here because it was also one of Japan’s greatest weapon. The answer is methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine was a Japanese invention, first synthesised back in 1893 by Nagai Nagayoshi, a Japanese chemist, but was relatively obscure until World War II when the Japanese government began to mass produce crystal meth in quantities that would make Walter White blush, under the name hiropon ヒロポン.
It was issued as part of the standard ration to everyone from soldiers to factory workers. For factory workers it suppressed hunger (no snack breaks!), gave them energy, and allowed them to focus on boring and repetitive tasks without losing concentration for insanely long periods. This contributed to Japan’s incredibly high military-industrial output.
The soldiers also received crystal meth, and this is probably the source of their reputation for great energy, ferocity and willingness to die. Simply put, they weren’t any braver than the average Joe, they were just high as kites.
Note that I am not denigrating the bravery or loyalty of the Japanese soldiers - even without drugs they were probably as committed to their country as the soldiers from the U.S. and other countries.
What I am trying to debunk is this notion that persists in fiction and history that the key to the Japanese soldiers’ amazing acts of bravery and suicidal ferocity can somehow be attributed to loyalty, bushido, bloodline or other such nonsense.
They were probably brave, well-trained and loyal soldiers for the most part who were committed to their countries and their comrades, but one cannot ignore the fact that Japanese soldiers were high on crystal meth in most major engagements, and this explains their exceptional performance far more rationally and elegantly than any quasi-mystical ideas about bushido or samurai ancestry.
It should also be noted that other countries toyed with giving their soldiers drugs - the Germans also used crystal meth and the U.S. gave their soldiers benzos - however no other nation did it to the extent that Japan did.
In summary, one of Japan’s most feared (and hidden) secret weapons was their wide-spread use of crystal meth during WW2.”
If this is correct, could the drug use also explain the terrible aggression of the Japanese soldiers, because traditionally the Japanese have been a highly cultured people?