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Zero fighter flies over Japan for 1st time since WWII

  • Mitsubishi’s legendary Zero fighter flew during its test flight at an air station in Kanoya, Kagoshima prefecture, southern Japan today. The restored plane took to the skies over Japan today for the first time since World War II. (Hiroko Harima/Kyodo News via AP)

KANOYA, Japan » One of Mitsubishi’s legendary Zero fighter planes took to the skies over Japan today for the first time since World War II.

The restored plane made a brief flight to and from a naval base in southern Japan. Decorated former U.S. Air Force pilot Skip Holm flew the aircraft.

Zero fighters were considered one of the most capable fighter planes in World War II, rivaling the British Spitfire. Their long range allowed them to play a prominent role in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Only a few are still in operating condition.

This particular plane was found decaying in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s. It was owned by an American until Japanese businessman Masahiro Ishizuka purchased it and brought it to Japan last September.

“I wanted for the people of Japan and especially young people to know about this Zero airplane, as well as those who are old who remember the past,” Ishizuka said. “Each of them should have different thoughts and perspectives on this, but I just want people to know how Japan has developed its technology.”

Japanese see the aircraft both as a symbol of their country’s technological advance and a reminder of the harrowing history of the war. In the last phase of the fighting, they were used for “kamikaze” attacks.

Kamikaze pilots took off from the same airfield as today’s flight, Kanoya Naval Air Base on the island of Kyushu.

Under its previous American owner, the plane made an appearance in the Hollywood movie “Pearl Harbor” and at various events in the United States.

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  • How much more different than the radical Islamic suicide bombers? Both radicalized to believe their divine masters that there are greater rewards awaiting them in the hereafter?.

    • There’s a huge and obvious difference. Kamikaze attacks (by air, land or sea) targeted military targets, not helpless civilians. Aircraft used in kamikaze attacks were clearly marked as belonging to the Japanese Army Air Force or Navy; they did not pose as anything but. And cojef, you might try to look up some of the surviving letters and journal entries written by kamikaze pilots after they knew their fate. Many of them did what they did for the love of country and sacrificed themselves to save their homes and families. True, some did not, but then, they were people not robots. If the U.S. mainland had been facing utter defeat and invasion in 1945, don’t you think a great many American boys would’ve done what the kamikaze pilots did?

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