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Emperor Hirohito's record may shed light on his war role

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It will be interesting to see how the "official record" handles responsibility for war crimes, the Nanking massacre, Unit 731 etc. My bet is blame will be placed on subordinates acting on their own.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Yeah, right. Like they are really gonna wash any of Hirohito's dirty laundry with this in the current right wing political climate. Just how daft do they think we are, I wonder? I guess we are about to find out, aren't we...?

10 ( +16 / -6 )

Don't expect transparency. Do expect the worst to be suppressed. There is enough of the truth out there that could have been used to convoke Hirohito of war crimes had the victors wanted to. The Americans had other plans for Hirohito, namely as a tool for keeping Japan stable after victory was assured. This was the reason that the imperial palace was not bombed.

in a nutshell, Hirohito's primary ambition from the time he prince regent was to save the monarchy no matter what it took.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Grand Steward Noriyuki Kazaoka, who heads the agency, told Japanese media that he did not want to see any part of the record “blacked out” from public view.

Right. The article says compile. Redacted is probably the better word. Its taken them 25 years so far since his death to properly redact the record.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Don't other countries have a very similar "Wait and see" approach? and many countries also hold back certain facts in the released documents. The time that passes between the incidents and the document release may vary up or down, but the act is the same. I don't see the point in this negativity until you have all had the chance to leaf through the documents yourself to confirm censorship/honesty.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

How are we going to confirm censorship Maria? Its real hard to say a thing we never saw before has been altered!

They have been tinkering with this for how long? If these are records, all they have to do is release them. No need to compile anything up front. If they want to make it into a book, okay, compile. But only after release of the original, untouched documents.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

How are we going to confirm censorship Maria?

Because Japanese historians will make it known, when they read the documents and consider them incomplete.

And because the agency itself may well make an announcement similar to the following (from another country's information release website):

Because of *s need to comply with * national security laws, some documents - or parts of documents - cannot be released to the public. Specifically, the has the responsibility to protect intelligence sources and methods from disclosure.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

What really transpired up to and during the war will never be revealed by IHA. Whatever they release will be ambiguous and open to interpretation so that those who hold the emperor in high regard will find something to vindicate and justify his actions.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Because Japanese historians will make it known, when they read the documents and consider them incomplete.

Historians have been trying to do that for decades, but the powers that be have absolved the emperor for political reasons. The truth is buried and obfuscated, and will remain so until the ORIGINAL UNREDACTED documents are released.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Who cares. If the truth is revealed, it won't change the opinions of those that fought from Europe and America and here in Japan, the truth, if damaging, will never be taught in schools or reported on TV.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

it's interesting that the Imperial Household Agency is also a hereditary organization, i was quite staggered when i found that out recently

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oops, I even did not know that remaining part of record of Taisho Emperor, father of Showa Emperor (Hirohito) had been made public recently (2008). Wow it is very comprehensive record that consists of 57 volumes.

I found photo of those books.

http://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/nationalnews/CO/national/427971.html

Everyone can read it in Imperial Household Agency by request (according to Asahi newspaper 6/5/2008). http://book.asahi.com/clip/TKY200806050064.html

We should not be surprised to know that all activity and speech of Emperor is recorded day by day. They are important person in the important institute.

Taisho Emperor's record is already very interesting. For an example, he is discussing political correctness of Regency, when he assigned young Showa Emperor as Regency when himself can not act as Emperor by sickness.

Ater Showa Emperor (Hirohito)s record became public, I am sure we will find more. We will have even more questions. But it is always important for us to study, investigate, discuss on the history.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No way will it reveal the truth about his involvement in WW2.

As Commander in Chief there is no way he wouldn't have known of and endorsed many, if not most of the major actions of the war. Whether he was fully briefed on what occurred during those actions is debatable.

Brigadier General Fellers, MacAuthur's military secretary and Chief of Psychological Warfare Operations, was fully aware of this when he said: "as Emperor and acknowledged Head of State, Hirohito cannot sidestep war guilt. He is a part of, and must be considered an instigator of, the Pacific War". This was the American's view at the time and there was huge pressure to try him as a war criminal coming from the US, but they chose to create distance between he and the military for their own purposes in rebuilding Japan. Senior Japanese officials, including ministers and ex Prime Ministers were also complicit in this, and worked to protect the Emperor from prosecution, even at their own expense.

There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that Hirohito fully expected to be held accountable for the war. But the Americans deemed him too valuable to the rebuilding of Japan. It's an interesting story. He was a very lucky chap.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The 'official record' is going to be about as official as a Japanese history textbook. All victim, no foul. They'll probably even edit his historical speech to say Japan won the war and should be proud of what it had done.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's going to be VERY interesting to see from these new released records on whether the Emperor Showa realized just too late the hubris of Japan's power as a empire in private, but never could express it in public for a number of reasons. People often forget the Emperor Showa lived a very cloistered life up till the end of World War II, especially with the rise of treating the Emperor like a living kami from the Meiji era on (very few people actually had direct contact with the Emperor); that famous speech that essentially ended World War II was probably the first time the vast majority of Japanese heard him make a speech in public.

Indeed, modern scholars who will assess the Emperor Showa's life once these documents are fully released have to consider his actions while living that cloistered life till 1945.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The 'official record' is going to be about as official as a Japanese history textbook. All victim, no foul.

Interestingly enough, there is a line of thought that suggests that because the Emperor was not held accountable for what happened in the war, his subjects subsequently felt that they in turn bore no real responsibility either. He was the Commander in Chief after all, and if he's not guilty, then no-one else should be. As a result of this, and the fact that Japan was absolutely in ruins after the war (and truly in ruins for several years), the people began to see themselves as 'victims' due to their appalling circumstances.

In the sense that you have been manipulated and exploited by people in power and authority, I can understand this perspective. But it needs to be separated from the nation's responsibility for the war, and should not replace it under any circumstances.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Yeap, the Americans failed to try Japanese for crimes against humanity committed against Asians. They only tried them for crimes against allied soldiers. Back then, voices of Asian people didn't really count in the West. It's one reason why we have a such a geopolitical mess in Asia today. The history book was never closed.

But the Americans deemed him too valuable to the rebuilding of Japan.

-1 ( +6 / -8 )

What if the truth revealed is against imperial Japan and it's Emperor? Will the new Japan view history in the right context and be truly apologetic and contrite or just uh and ah once again? We shall see.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I am having trouble imagining that these publications will actually be allowed in the non-fiction section.

I just cant see Japan willingly putting the facts out there any time soon if ever!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@chucky,

Yeap, the Americans failed to try Japanese for crimes against humanity committed against Asians.

You are incorrect!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Yeah, right, and there's a bridge in Brooklyn that's up for sale. A full account of Hitohito's complicity in, and responsibility for the war, would give the lie to an illusion nurtured and built up over several decades, and that's why it will never be released. He was the overarching soul of Imperial Japan, not a distant symbol whose authority a warmongering cabinet misused, as the version of history popular in Japan claims. Japan's ever-ongoing self-beautification program is more important than the Emperor himself.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

There is no doubt that he sfully supported japan's aggression and the invasion of China, Korea and Southeast Asia. He is as guilty as hell.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Chucky

Yeap, the Americans failed to try Japanese for crimes against humanity committed against Asians. They only tried them for crimes against allied soldiers.

The Chinese, Philipinos, Indians, Dutch (controlling Indonesia), French (controlling Vietnam) all conducted their own War Crimes Tribunals for Japanese crimes.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Tamamara, read Chucky's statement again. Now read yours.

The Americans are NOT the Chinese, Filipinos etc. If they were Shiro Ishii would not have escaped a date with the executioner.

Now, I know that some Japanese were tried and executed by the Tokyo tribunals solely for crimes against other Asians. That said, most were tried and executed for crimes against the Allies. Crimes against POWs were considered more than those against Asian civilians.

Chucky overstated his case to be sure. But he was not that far off really. It was victor's justice in the sense that there was not an equal distribution of justice, not by a long shot.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

funny car

Tamamara, read Chucky's statement again. Now read yours.

I did, struggling to see the issue.

The Americans are NOT the Chinese, Filipinos etc.

Hence my use of nouns like 'Chinese', Filipinos', 'Indians' etc. Nouns commonly used to represent peoples of varying ethnic origin from parts of Asia.

The trials I sited were held outside of Japan between 1946 and 1951. 2200 of them in total, in various parts of Asia.

Little bit of reading would have got that info for you.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

True enough, in the sense that the war crimes tribunals were "victors justice". Those guilty of crimes against Asians, like Abes grandad, Nobusuke Kishi, went unpunished or were acquitted

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The Chinese, Philipinos, Indians, Dutch (controlling Indonesia), French (controlling Vietnam) all conducted their own War Crimes Tribunals for Japanese crimes.

Yes, they conducted "their own" trials. And they did not share defendants, nor were suspects exchanged. Thus Shiro Ishii and other clear criminals walked, because it was declined to prosecute them or to send them where they would be prosecuted. America got the bulk of the criminals and America was primarily concerned about crimes against POWs than civilians. Because Americans are not Chinese, many criminals escaped justice. The emperor is a prime example. He should have been courts all across Asia.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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