The late Emperor Hirohito of Japan, seen in this April 12, 1986 file photo, was until the end of World War Two regarded as a living god in whose name millions fought and died, then after the war, portrayed as a peace-loving biologist, deceived and used by militarists. Photo: REUTERS file
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Emperor Hirohito stopped by PM Yoshida from expressing remorse over war, documents show

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Emperor Hirohito wanted to express his regret and remorse over World War II in 1952 but was stopped from doing so by the prime minister at the time, newly disclosed documents showed Monday.

The records detailing exchanges between the emperor, known posthumously as Emperor Showa, and Michiji Tajima, the first grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, provide further evidence to support the view that the emperor may have sought to apologize over the war.

The documents, disclosed by public broadcaster NHK, which obtained 18 notebooks from Tajima's family, showed the emperor saying on Jan. 11, 1952, "I just think I really need to include the word remorse" in a speech during the ceremony in May that year to mark Japan's regaining of independence.

An item dated Feb. 20 the same year also quoted the emperor as saying, "If we reflect, we have all done bad things, so please write well and include in the upcoming speech the meaning that we must all reflect and not repeat them."

But Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who was consulted by Tajima, opposed the emperor's plan to publicly express regret and remorse, saying it could prompt people to say he was responsible for starting the war.

Yoshida also said he no longer wanted the emperor to mention the war or Japan's defeat.

His opinion was passed on to the emperor through Tajima, and the subsequent speech delivered by the emperor at the ceremony did not include the words regret or remorse.

The documents also showed the emperor reflecting on the path toward Japan's defeat, saying "no one could stop the military," particularly by the time Hideki Tojo was serving as the country's prime minister.

Tajima was chief of the imperial household office from 1949 to 1953. He wrote down details of conversations with the emperor during his service in his notebooks.

Under the prewar Meiji Constitution, the emperor, once considered divine, had supreme control of the army and navy. The emperor today is defined under the postwar Constitution in Japan as "the symbol of the state" with no political power.

In 2003, a draft of an apology speech believed to have been in preparation for Emperor Hirohito after the war was discovered by former Sophia University lecturer Kyoko Kato when she was going through documents left by Tajima.

The draft speech, which mentions "deep shame" due to "my fault," was estimated to have been written around the autumn of 1948, and indicated he may have been planning to admit his responsibility for the war and apologize to the Japanese people.

A slew of other documents, including diaries of the emperor's close aides, have shown the emperor was uneasy with Japan's drift to war but was too weak to alter the course of events and was in anguish in his final years for being blamed for his role in the war.

A diary of late chamberlain Shinobu Kobayashi revealed in 2018 that the aging emperor was haunted by talk of his wartime responsibility following the war.

The emperor said during his final years that he did not wish to live much longer as he would only experience more anguish at sad events and being blamed for his role in the war.

"There is no point in living a longer life by reducing my workload. It would only increase my chances of seeing or hearing things that are agonizing," according to the diary entry dated April 7, 1987.

Emperor Hirohito fell ill during a party celebrating his birthday on April 29, 1987. Although he recovered after undergoing an operation, he died on Jan 7, 1989.

© KYODO

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From my understanding, and this was discussed previously on this website, Hirohito was only referencing remorse over the lives of Japanese lost and their hardships including being sent off to fight in the war. As in, he felt remorse over how the war negatively affected Japan.

This is absolutely not the same as expressing remorse and apologies for the non-Japanese victims of Japan's pre-WW2 and WW2 aggression and atrocities. So let's not make this out to be something it is not, nowhere is there any evidence Hirohito desired to atone for what his country did to other Asian countries, he only was concerned about Japanese victims of the war.

These rightful expressions of remorse and apologies HAVE been repeatedly made by various Japanese Prime Ministers and political figures in the past 30 years. And Hirohito's grandson is finally taking the right approach to these matters as evidenced by his statements last week.

8 ( +20 / -12 )

A diary of late chamberlain Shinobu Kobayashi revealed in 2018 that the aging emperor was haunted by talk of his wartime responsibility following the war.

Not enough to take the time to come down here to Okinawa and apologize to his own people! Oh right, the he didnt care about Okinawan people, either then or after, as he NEVER came to Okinawa in all his years as Emperor. Something his son and wife did for him!

The road to hell is paved with with "good intentions"

16 ( +20 / -4 )

It's mere speculation, but I think the vast majority of Japanese, including Hirohito, would not have much regret if they had won. For that matter, the same can probably be said for any of us. Negative consequences are the main reason we regret our actions.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

have shown the emperor was uneasy with Japan's drift to war but was too weak to alter the course of events and was in anguish in his final years for being blamed for his role in the war.

It could well be he was 'too weak to alter the course of war', that he was unable to have much control over Japan's military and the Zaibatsu, the industrial and financial business conglomerates, that wanted war and stood to profit from it. But that shouldn't excuse him from responsibilities for what Unit 731 and other groups funded in the name of 'scientific research' did throughout Asia and to those captured.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

He was a puppet,figurehead Emperor of the warmongers military,with no real power anyway to say or do anything.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

He was a puppet,figurehead Emperor of the warmongers military,with no real power anyway to say or do anything.

Same as with most nations.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Yep, he was sorry after the fact. But his name was used to justify mass rape, brutal treatment of POWS. And a systematic killing of anyone not Japanese, I'd feel remorseful too had these actions been done in my name.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

oldman_13Today  06:49 am JST

From my understanding, and this was discussed previously on this website, Hirohito was only referencing remorse over the lives of Japanese lost and their hardships including being sent off to fight in the war.

Were you already familiar with the content of these newly disclosed documents, then?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

From what I have gathered in discussions with those over 40, state that the Emperor's remorse was for both war and Japanese lives including the outcome of overall war for domestic or foe losses. He did not have total and full control of the army and navy stated under the Meiji Constitution but rather served his role as a figurehead. There was an attempted coup to take fully control under the Navy from the Army but that attempt was defeated prior to WW2.  Already the war drums were beating. He was indeed remorseful towards the actions against Okinawa as stated in the letters that can be found in Kyoto. The entire issues today lie with the existence of a deal made by the Imperial Household Agency, Prime Minister and Gen McArthur.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if Truman ever express regret for Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

-3 ( +11 / -14 )

"Don't mention the war" as well as government participation in controlled, state-sponsored annual ceremonies for the victims of war is the boiler plate strategy of politicians who want to keep their prerogative of starting wars in the future without inviting the kind of civil unrest and protest seen in the USA that spoiled their wars in Indo-China. Yoshida Shigeru was a dyed-in-the-wool rightwing chicken hawk whose brief imprisonment just before the war ended may have been a ploy to fool the future American occupiers, or at least became a useful credential by helping to scrub and polish his "democratic" bona fides for his future role as a reactionary PM. who needed no encouragement to listen to HMV in suppressing "socialism" in Japan.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

a puppet,figurehead Emperor of the warmongers military,with no real power anyway to say or do anything.

Another dose of fake history. Let's not try whitewashing this criminal. He was some supposed god afterall. Puppet? Give me a break. The only reason this supreme war criminal got away with his crimes was expediency. Japan had to get in order so as not be consumed by the rising tide of communism. So america did what it does best and spat on all the lives wasted during that dark time.

And Hirohito's grandson is finally taking the right approach to these matters as evidenced by his statements last week.

About damn time!!!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

It's mere speculation, but I think the vast majority of Japanese, including Hirohito, would not have much regret if they had won.

I mentioned to some Japanese male friends of mine that, if Japan had "won", they'd still be fighting.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Emperor Hirohito behaved like a ruthless dictator endangering his own citizens and leaving a vile stain on Japanese history.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Why doesn’t JT show us the picture of Hirohito on his white stallion wearing full military uniform with a long sword hanging at his side?

Maybe that wouldn’t fit the narrative of ‘remorsefulness’ as being surrounded by cherry blossoms...

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Powerless? We are talking about the guy that ended the war with a radio broadcast he set up himself, against the wishes of half the government. He was in fact active in war matters and a war criminal who, like Shiro Ishii who ran Unit 731, got a clean slate by the victors because he was useful.

He, like most of the losers, were only sorry they lost.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

He was incredibly lucky to avoid the gallows, he deserved it for being so spineless.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

A complex issue. In my opinion Hirohito was neither totally guilty, nor totally innocent. I've always thought the major criminals in Japan's dark period of the 1920s-1940s were the military itself and those politicians who supported them. Anyone who thinks they could have been stopped, even by the Emperor, from trying to fulfil their dreams of expansion I think is mistaken. Interesting too that even when Hirohito was planning his surrender broadcast, elements of the Army rebelled and tried to stage a coup, which if successful would have led to the obliteration of Tokyo by a third nuclear bomb. Maybe Hirohito lacked the spine to confront the Army earlier - but don't underestimate the sheer insanity of the Tojo clique and those who thought like him.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's not a complex issue, he was criminally involed in the mass murder of millions mass rape of millions he really should have been hung. He was more than complicate and riding a white horse sorry just shortens the rope he should have dangled from.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Hirohito was neither totally guilty

I disagree because at the time the emperor was basically God to the Japanese people whether they were military or not so he not only initiated the war but he could have stopped it at any given moment.

Even today I guarantee there is not one right militant group in Japan who would not fight to the death if the current emperor gave that order.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

no one could stop the military," particularly by the time Hideki Tojo was serving as the country's prime minister.

This is a very Japanese characteristic, one that scares me even today. Once they get behind something, they all en mass commit to the cause. Even if Hirohito suggested that the war end, the machine of minds in place at the time with Tojo as its leader would of prevented any declaration and ignored the emperor. Of course Hirohito was aware and bears much of the responsibility. Its only after defeat that he felt remorse for what he caused to the Japanese. Others fate, he could of cared less. He appeared on his white stallion after the fall of Singapore to show his power. I never believed this revisionist crap that he wasnt aware or guilty; he knew exactly what he was doing.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I see a lot of people here blame Hirohito for what he did and did not do.

I wasn't born before the mid 90s so excuse my lack of knowledge. But having grown up in Japan and having a grandfather who fought during WW2, though only as a reservist.

I do not think Hirohito was completely innocent by any means. But my grandfather told me many years ago that Prime Minister Tojo had a lot of power back then and the emperor consulted him and his part about almost anything that he did.

This was a different time, almost a century ago. Do I think he "regretted" his actions during World War 2? No. In the years following, yes.

Hirohito was seen as somewhat a god by his peers, but he was still under the control of the PM during the world war. What Hirohito did and did not do is all speculation apart from what documents show us these days. And I won't say that he was a good man, but I won't say he was a bad man neither. Like how all the soldier who fought for Hitler, were bad men at the time, but later on as time progressed and the truth came out, their minds changed.

Hirohito was an emperor but he did not control Japan, especially the military during that time, at least to what I learned in school and from my ancestors.

Hirohito died an old man 40+ years after the end of WW2. Whether he felt remorse or not will not change peoples opinion about him, humans are herd creatures. But to think he held onto the belief that what Japan did was "for the better good" until the day he died. I think not.

He visited the U.S after Japan's defeat and he more than likely heard more than enough sides about the war. How he felt like a person inside is unknown. But to think held onto the belief that Japan's part in WW2 was "good" till the day he passed, I don't believe. And more so, even if the people revered him, he was in the under, a puppet, PM Tojo was the main antagonist in Japan at the time. A lot of People wanted to stop Hirohito's message of defeat, if you guys read about it. But only when that broadcast got out, did Japan decide as a whole that enough was enough.

I do not believe Hirohito is all innocent, but I do not believe he held as much power as a lot of people may think. And in 1940 and in the early years his mindset may have been different from his later years.

Hirohito is long gone, and villain or not, whatever memory is left of him should not be remembered with hatred nor reverence, but as a learning. His son dedicated his entire life to Japans good, so did his grandson. And when Akihito was young, he was heavily influenced by the royal family. I do not think in the end, Hirohito wanted his son to make his mistakes.

Hirohito may have embarrassed his nation and been blame goat for a lot of Japan's bad deeds, but he was not the main man in charge. And wherever he may be now, I hope he is proud of the work his son has done (akihito) to his country and that he mourns for all of Hitler's and Japan's victims.

Like I said in the beginning I am too young to know a lot nor care too much about that far back, and I am not saying he is all innocent. But I do not believe Hirohito deserves all the blame. He may have been the god of the people, but he was the PM's puppet during the war.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Hirohito was an exchange student to the British Empire. The Japanese imperial house followed the British footsteps as principal that they will reign but not rule which Hirohito had accepted. The only problem was the military used that to under mind the government when they tried to cut military spending, in which the head of the military stated that the supreme commander was the emperor and will only follow the emperor's command as declared within the old constitution and refused to accept the budget cuts.

Emperor Hirohito said nothing leaving it to the politicians sort things out since as principal the royal court did not want to get involved in politics. This resulted in the reign of the military from the 30's onward.

Yes Hirohito did not have the spine but if he had interfered then he would have broken principal which was laid from the Meiji restoration. Basically it was a no win situation for him.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

But Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who was consulted by Tajima, opposed the emperor's plan to publicly express regret and remorse, saying it could prompt people to say he was responsible for starting the war.

He wasn't?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Sounds like the poor bloke really wanted to make a personal statement on behalf of his own conscience but was not allowed to by his own subjects. Maybe if he’d been allowed to follow his heart we wouldn’t see the nation in the pickle it is today, at least not to the extent anyway. Chances lost coming back to haunt. It’s very endearing to hear of his lament, and actually plays in his favor in the eyes of history. Nobody after all, wants a war.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hirohito is long gone, and villain or not, whatever memory is left of him should not be remembered with hatred nor reverence, but as a learning.

Try to make him neutral and the lessons learned from him will be used for evil. He and so many others are simply beyond forgiveness no matter if they changed their minds or not. He would have left my court bound for a sound proof glass cage for all to point at, surrounded by clear reminders of all who died in large to part thanks to him.

His son dedicated his entire life to Japans good, so did his grandson.

I have no idea what that opinion could be founded on. Every time I see royals on TV I see them doing nothing at great expense to myself, a tax payer.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

As expected by the man who led the merger between the Liberal and Democratic party in 1955 to form LDP which basically ruined Japan's democracy in favor of political stability. And Japan has never except twice that day seen another party in power, 1994-1996 Social Democrat, and from 2009-2012 the Democratic Party.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

PTownsendToday 07:32 am JSThave shown the emperor was uneasy with Japan's drift to war but was too weak to alter the course of events and was in anguish in his final years for being blamed for his role in the war.

It could well be he was 'too weak to alter the course of war', that he was unable to have much control over Japan's military and the Zaibatsu, the industrial and financial business conglomerates, that wanted war and stood to profit from it. But that shouldn't excuse him from responsibilities for what Unit 731 and other groups funded in the name of 'scientific research' did throughout Asia and to those captured.

I'm too young to remember any of this but didn't Hirohito make some sort of apologies to foreign nations of Asia and the Pacific? He met with Pres. Nixon and maybe Reagan too. He was not an absolute emperor by any means - the fascist regime of Hideiki Tojo and the zaibatsu were the real rulers without a doubt. And after the junta was in chaos, wasn't it Hirohito who got on national radio to announce terms for a surrender? I just can't believe that all the Japanese would die for his honor if the Allies were to invade the 4 big islands.

After the war he refused to even step in the shrine for the warriors because Tojo and his fascist generals are buried there, and they brought shame to him and Japan. He's been dead for 30 years. Let it be.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is absolutely not the same as expressing remorse and apologies for the non-Japanese victims of Japan's pre-WW2 and WW2 aggression and atrocities. So let's not make this out to be something it is not, nowhere is there any evidence Hirohito desired to atone for what his country did to other Asian countries, he only was concerned about Japanese victims of the war.

In the previous article, you were arguing against posters like myself for saying the same thing, and why some foreigner protest at Yasukuni shrine! Is your memory failing you?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Be interestng to know why NHK, the main propaganda organ of the LDP, has these docs, and how long they've been in their position.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Whew, life can get complicated! From the U.K. press having a front page headline saying, “Japan's Evil Sun god Burns in Hell” when he died in 1989, (y’all remember that one?) to those who still revere Hirohito, and everything in between. I don’t truly know, but my opinion is he had great culpability for Japan’s role.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Culpability definatly and his offspring know it too thus their pacifist outlook. They don't want anyone to die in their name. But again Abe and his cohorts are actually trying to kill youth in the name of the emporer.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Yubaru. From what I understand, the Emperor wasn’t welcome by the Okinawans. It wasn’t that he refused to go there.

And if you are Okinawan or know any war history, you’d know that Okinawan’s were happy enough when the great news about Pearl Harbor was announced.

i understand how much the Okinawans suffered, but they weren’t against the war while Japan was winning.

@Cricky The Japanese did not commit mass murder of anyone who wasn’t Japanese. There were atrocities everywhere, but your statement is misleading.

My conclusion after everything I’ve read.

Hirohito could have stopped the war earlier if he really wanted to but it would have taken radical heroic action and perhaps risk to his life.

As as others pointed out, he eventually did step in but even then the very people who told others to die for him as he was god would have killed him.

the main thing is to not repeat the mistakes.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

My impression is that Emperor Hirohito eventually came to regret the war. That is the normal, human thing to do.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Came to regret.....little bit too late

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Opinions, opinions, opinions... we need to let the historical evidence speak for itself and put aside our fondly held biases and prejudices. This article is about some new evidence which does add to and alter some existing historical theories about Showa Tenno. That's all.

May I pay particular tribute to the balanced and sincere comment by MiaTanaka - I think you have tried to weigh everything you know and the new material fairly and dispassionately. Thank you.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Are there any private color films of this highly national times?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To those who have not read it, I highly recommend the fastiduously researched and written book by Herbert Bix - Hirohito and the making of modern Japan.

Bix, the consummate western authority on matters of Japan, writes of an emperor complicit in the military's ways of war and not the dandy puppet he is oft made out to be.

Essential reading for any serious student of Japanese History.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Bix's book is certainly the go-to source in English for the serious student of Emperor Hirohito. However, he himself would admit that he was not setting out to examine so much Hirohito as a whole, but more the question of war responsibility. And his conclusion, which is popularly but not universally accepted, is pretty much that Hirohito was the supreme architect of the war as far as Japan's role is concerned. It would be interesting to hear Bix's thoughts on these newly revealed documents.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes Hirohito did not have the spine but if he had interfered then he would have broken principal which was laid from the Meiji restoration. Basically it was a no win situation for him.

So he preferred ritual over doing the right thing? Too bad for the lives lost. He should have hung.

My impression is that Emperor Hirohito eventually came to regret the war. 

Fake history.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Because Yoshida was yet another coward in a long line of them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He still could have done it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This came in today. Hirohito did show remorse beyond his own territorial walls. The WSJ has an interesting article.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/japans-wartime-emperor-showed-remorse-over-nanjing-massacre-11566210385

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who was consulted by Tajima, opposed the emperor's plan to publicly express regret and remorse, saying it could prompt people to say he was responsible for starting the war.

Is this the same Yoshida our Dear PM so much adores and glorifies?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

NHK might as well be revealing something about Tokugawa Ieyasu's opinions on warfare in the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

The new revelations don't really contradict what is already known from other sources. Besides, what does it serve to make it public now, three decades after his death? Does anyone think historians are going to start turning out new books?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think I'll wait until all relevant documents about Hirohito, from start to finish, are made available to us.

Particularly those held by the Imperial Household Agency....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Emperor Hirohito wanted to express his regret and remorse over World War II in 1952 but was stopped from doing so by the prime minister at the time, ......

When Hirohito died, a tabloid newspaper in my native country wrote about Hirohito's role during WW2 and ended by saying that the Japanese people regarded him as a god, he should have acted like one.

It seems that 7 years after the war he could not even act as a mortal man.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

He was indeed remorseful towards the actions against Okinawa as stated in the letters that can be found in Kyoto. 

Those letters are nothing more than a man trying to make people think he cared! There is no proof that he was "indeed remorseful", as ACTIONS speak far louder than words, and in the over 40 years of his reign following the war, he NEVER stepped foot in Okinawa to say anything about the over 200,000 people that died in a battle here, fought by one side, IN HIS NAME!

But he wasn't "remorseful" enough to actually take the time to come down here and pay his respects!

The Okinawan people who went through the war, for the most part, literally hated the Emperor for not showing respect to those who died in his name here following the war. Hirohito traveled to many other places throughout Japan following the war, but NEVER Okinawa!

The anger and frustration at being made shields and being treated as secondary citizens (being rather nice there) was evidenced when the Crown Prince Akihito, the now retired Emperor, came here to pay respects IN PLACE of his father, and activists at the time threw Molotov cocktails at him and his wife, fortunately neither were injured in any way, yet that experience led Akihito on a path to working to find peace with the people of Okinawa, and once he became Emperor he visited Okinawa nearly 30 times during his reign, and became, through his efforts, a well loved Emperor, even down here!

The people however, will never forgive Hirohito! And these letters that were found, only show that he wrote something down, and I for one just think he did it, to show people in the future his attitude, but in reality it is just BS.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Emperor Hirohito could have stopped the war with just one word from him.

He could have stopped the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

And above all, he could dismiss the government of Hideki Tojo. For disobeying the law in force.

He had the necessary authority and the means at his disposal to stop the entire war. And he didn't.

It is normal for him to have remorse because he was one of the main culprits in the deaths of thousands of people. Military and civilians. In and out of Japan. But the political elite of the time in both Japan and the United States. And the geopolitical situation in the Korean War. China's internal situation and the Soviet Union's reaction. And other countries affected by Japanese domination. Hirohito's words of regret would have provoked a very violent reaction in the region. It would be like whipping up an already unstable hornet's nest. And it would have provoked a diplomatic and commercial instability of great magnitude.

I think Yoshida acted prudently. We remember that this was in 1952. You have to look at the context of the time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And if you are Okinawan or know any war history, you’d know that Okinawan’s were happy enough when the great news about Pearl Harbor was announced.

i understand how much the Okinawans suffered, but they weren’t against the war while Japan was winning.

Tell that to my relatives here who had family members tortured for speaking their own language and others that got killed by the IJA as spies because of it as well.

And the one's who were on the "side" of the IJA and actually survived paid the price for it after the war.

From what I understand, the Emperor wasn’t welcome by the Okinawans. It wasn’t that he refused to go there.

Dont play with words here either, "It wasn't that he refused"? What a bunch of BS, he NEVER even tried to come! And as I noted, hell no he wasnt welcome, and neither was his son either, but HE came anyway!

Okinawa is the ONLY prefecture in Japan that Hirohito never visited as Emperor, he did step on land here once when he was the Crown Prince on his way back from a visit to Taiwan, but otherwise never afterwards.

Stop with being apologetic for his actions, Japan very well could have better been served TODAY, looking back at it, IF he had been charged and tried as a war criminal along with Tojo! But that's all moot!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

And above all, he could dismiss the government of Hideki Tojo. For disobeying the law in force.

Actually it was Hirohito who appointed Tojo to his first assignment. Tojo later made himself minister of everything.

Anyone who thinks Hirohito was innocent and had no knowledge of what was going on is either in denial or a fool. He knew exactly what was going on, and was briefed on it all the time. In Japan, there is a culture of blame shifting that makes things look ok, when they are not. Every Japanese of that generation knows Hirohito knew what was going on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This was a different time, almost a century ago. Do I think he "regretted" his actions during World War 2? No. In the years following, yes.

Some would say that the only regrets he and others than ran the war had is that they lost! If Japan had won the war, there would be none!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've read Herbert Bix's "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan." Good book and gives good insight on the Japanese thinking at that time. What was interesting about Hirohito's thinking, was that he believed, through his education training and Imperial Japan tradition, that Japan should be destined to dominate and rule all Asia continent. He wanted to fulfill that destiny. PM Tojo was obligated to carry out the Emperor's directives. Tojo, being a military man and with the support of the Imperial Army and Navy, saw fulfillment of that directive through military conquests. The Emperor didn't care about how the goals were achieved as long as they were obeyed and objectives achieved.

PM Tojo presented the U.S. Navy presence in the Pacific as an obstacle to Japan's goals and problem had to be dealt with. So Emperor Hirohito directed Tojo to take care of the problem. Unfortunately for Japan the war didn't go as planned and Japan lost the opportunity to dominate the Asian continent.

The old-school Japanese mentality is never directly apologize or express remorse as it would cause them to lose face. Hirohito, being emperor, was not going to lose face, nor would the Japanese people allow their Emperor to lose face. But he voluntarily went to Gen. MacArthur's HQ, accepted responsibility for the war and offered to sacrifice and accept punishment as MacArthur deemed fit.

It's interesting that postwar PM Yoshida recommended that Emperor Hirohito not publicly express remorse over the war. Perhaps he was thinking that had the Emperor publicly expressed "remorse" it would have reopened debate about the Emperor's actions during the war and in doing so would have caused loss of face not only to the Emperor himself but for all Japan.

The fact that the Emperor willingly made a formal surrender and total capitulation that caused a proud nation to lose face, accepted demotion from God to monarchy representative, accepting foreign occupation, accepting a constitutional mandate to renounce war forever and a limited postwar military only for coastal defense....isn't that enough?

Even postwar Germany and Italy were not subjected to such indignities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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