politics

Released memo points to Hirohito's role in Pearl Harbor raid

45 Comments
By Mari Yamaguchi

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45 Comments
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The problem is not the right or wrong but the fact that a few men can take a country to war in which millions are killed or injured is the problem.....

22 ( +25 / -3 )

There was supposedly a speech that was prepared by/for Hirohito to make a few years after Japan's surrender in which he was to express shame and remorse for his role in the war.

However, his perspective was that of remorse for bringing Japan into the war and the Japanese lives that it cost, and not for the victims of Japan's wartime aggression towards its Asian neighbors as well as the allied forces like Americans, British, Australians, etc.

His son did a better job in expressing remorse for the victims of Japan's wartime aggression when he visited China

21 ( +22 / -1 )

And remember, the attack on Pearl Harbor was desperation due to Japan being starved of oil by USA.

As already noted by another poster, that oil was fueling Imperial Japan’s war in China.

What Emperor Showa thought and said was extremely important domestically. Would the Pacific War have ended when it did had HRH’s speech (in language most people did not understand) not been broadcast on August 13, 1945?

15 ( +16 / -1 )

The Japanese government was "starved" of oil because the Japanese army was running amok in China and, with its flagrant invasion of Indo-China, exposing their naked ambitions to expand the Japanese Empire under the laughable pretext of "liberating" the countries of South East Asia from their colonial yoke. Their aggressive intentions were already signaled in 1936 by signing the Axis (of Evil) pact with the world's most notorious cult leader, Hitler, who the Japanese leaders wanted to believe was a sure winner. Why do so many people want to rewrite history? Is the Truth too hard to bear?

13 ( +22 / -9 )

Pretty sad that Japan still to today CANT admit its own history!

I can understand why Hatano was SCARED to release this, he is lucky the Yomiuri didn't bury it!

Tojo & the emperor have ALWAYS been one side of the SAME coin wrt to the 1930s to 1945, absolutely undeniable...……...except here in Japan.

Even Hatano is an example of lack of understanding:

>  "But now I hope the memo would help us figure out what really happened during the war, in which 3.1 million people were killed."

Sorry, but that only includes Japanese, need to add the other 20-30million the ija killed to get to a more accurate number of dead, but perhaps only dead Japanese count in Japan...still a long way to go for Japan sadly

13 ( +19 / -6 )

"It took me nine years to come forward, as I was afraid of a backlash," said bookshop owner Takeo Hatano

And who is surprised, given the murderous hate campaigns directed against those who even obliquely criticise the former Emperor.

Whether Hirohito did so because he felt he had personally pushed for war, or whether he allowed it by letting Tojo et al do whatever they like doesn't matter anymore.

Well, Mr. Hatano here was so frightened of reprisals from the uyoku and their friends for merely releasing this document that he found, it obviously still matters a lot to certain people.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

"...during the war, in which 3.1 million people were killed."

Comments like that always make me wonder about the quality and "truthiness" of the education and information the Japanese receive pertaining to the Pacific War.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Churchill and Roosevelt’s for provoking Japan into the war and prolonging the bloodshed by refusing Japan’s repeated proposals for ceasefire. another brainwashed minion, Japan had slaughtered more Asians through its annexing of Asia than the entire Pacific war fatalities of Japan and USA combined. America were supplying the resistance against the IJA in Asia. Japan didnt like its brutal authority of Asia challenged and made the mistake of attacking Pearl Harbour, the rest is history.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

What we're looking at here is still just a third-hand account by Yuzawa of Tojo's account of the Emperor's attitude, rather than hearing directly from the source. Given Tojo's and the military junta's proven thirst for war, the question that needs to be asked is, how reliable (or self-serving) was Tojo's account of how the Emperor viewed things?

This isn't to suggest that Hirohito was blameless. The frustrating thing is that in the absence of Hirohito's own account, the truth is pretty elusive.

In the final analysis, the good thing is that a fanatical, semi-feudal military dictatorship was crushed and replaced by a democratic system which, despite having obvious failings (as often pointed out by JT readers), is extremely unlikely to repeat the mistakes of the past.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

And remember, the attack on Pearl Harbor was desperation due to Japan being starved of oil by USA. starving Japan of oil for their brutal invasion of China and much of Asia where millions died under the IJA. Pacific war didn't start with Japans attack on Pearl Harbour it stared with Japans invasion of China in 1931. biggest mistake Japan made was forcing America into the Pacific war

10 ( +14 / -4 )

biggest mistake Japan made was forcing America into the Pacific war

More like invited them, then forced them.

My understanding is Japan knew the US would eventually get into the fight so they wanted to do a preemptive attack to delay the US while Japan secured their new territories. My guess, Japan didn't expect the US to respond so quickly. Maybe they imagined the US would need 500 useless meetings about what to do next.

Im sure the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, a little over four months later, shocked the hell out of them.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Hirohito offered to take complete responsibility for the war in his first meeting with MacArthur at GHQ who turned it down. Whether Hirohito did so because he felt he had personally pushed for war, or whether he allowed it by letting Tojo et al do whatever they like doesn't matter anymore. Except perhaps to historians. Japanese history is chock full of instances of the Emperor sitting in Kyoto unable to do anything about some Shogun, Taiko or whatever running the country.

9 ( +17 / -8 )

If the Emperor had clearly stated his opposition to the Pearl Harbor (and other) attacks, there would have been no Pearl Harbor.

If the Emperor had wanted to stop the war earlier than the dropping of the atomic bombs he could have.

i have believed that for decades and still do. That’s doesn’t mean I can’t move on, neither does it mean I have any malice towards Japanese people or the royal family.

it does make me never want to entrust my or my children’s lives to the decisions of a few men who are capable of colossal mistakes.

i can’t understand why anyone is upset with this news. If it’s wrong for documents like this to be publicized and the debated, then you may as well ban history classes.

Also, to the right wingers here.

You can love your country and even think it’s the best there’s ever been - and still acknowledge past mistakes.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Of course we should know what role the emperor played. It doesn't matter only to historians nor is it time to move on...

If it would help us know the reality of war better maybe Japan and the world can learn from it. After all Japan still does have an emperor and the political party in power is interested in change to at least his formal title...

Otherwise it just shows people like the above commenters are unwilling to change their viewpoint, and they obviously have one...

8 ( +12 / -4 )

The article states that ".......3.1 million people were killed."

The statement should have been, 3.1 million Japanese were killed. Also killed as a result of the Japanese decision to wage a war of expansion were 1/2 million Filipinos, 1/2 million Koreans, up to 4 million Indonesians and Dutch settlers, and up to 20 million Chinese. Over 400,000 Americans died, worldwide, with fewer than 1/3rd of that number succumbing in the Pacific theater of operations.

It seems clear, judging from numerous sources, that the Emperor supported the decision to wage a war of conquest, at least up until the point in time when it was obvious that the war could not be won. That he made the decision to force his country to surrender, rather than fight to the death, is, IMO, an admirable decision. What we can only speculate about is to what extent his decision to reject the war was based on moral grounds, and how much his decision was based on expediency.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

*..during the war, in which 3.1 million people were killed. **Japan can look past the Pacific war with America, more than 10million Asians dieds under Japans annexing of the region. The European side of the war was far more bloody with estimates of around 40million fatalities*

7 ( +10 / -3 )

“"The emperor seemed at ease and unshakable once he had made a decision," he quoted Tojo as saying.”

And not only the US was attacked.Singapore,Malaysia,China, Indonesia,Mongolia,Australia,

Laos,Cambodia,Thailand,India, Timor, Myanmar etc.

It is obvious that Japan was attempting to secure resources for conflict.

Also, the fact of opening declaring war on three fronts without having been attacked means that Japan’s goal was to dominate......

Was Emperor Hirohito also so ‘at ease’ having the Imperial Army attack so many other countries?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Make that August 15, 1945. Also my naval cadet father-in-law’s birthday.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Do ppl still believe in so called 'Royal neutrality' (and am not only talking about J royals here, i.e. monarchies around the globe)?

Monarchs & Royalists aren't above politics, never have been, never will be. In fact, most have pushed/been pushing expansionist ideologies throughout history.

I have no doubt Emperor Hirohito played 'some' role in Pearl Harbor attack & ww2 as a whole (which is -rightly or wrongly- 'better' than an apathetic, detached & 'well, up to you guys, your call' monarch).

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Time to move on, it was almost 80 years ago. agreed, and that includes continuing to make Japan look like it was the victim of the Pacific war for which it wasn't the instigating aggressor, history clearly show the opposite.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

The notion of the emperor being opposed to the war was cultivated by MacArthur and Japan's post-war leaders. It did much to ensure that the Japanese people accepted the occupation and the new government, as Hirohito urged them to do. It was an image that served literally everyone's interest, hence its enduring power.

There's just one problem: it's not true. There is ample documentation (mostly in the form of journal entries written by his aides and other govt officials) of Hirohito's approval and involvement in the planning and conducting of the war.

This new memo is hardly a revelation; it's just rare that anyone here publicly questions the fiction of the peaceful Hirohito, which was so vital to society.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The statements of peace and love emanating from Japan's fascist military were pure hypocrisy. The "Neutrality" Pact with the Soviet Union was simply a cynical ruse to gain time until the rabidly anti-communist Japanese were strong enough to stab them in the back and steal their Far-Eastern territories. Unfortunately for the Machiavellian military, things turned out differently, however, and this is why the Japanese still refuse in their pique and pride to sign a formal peace treaty with Russia, ungratefully forgetting that throughout WW2 Stalin colluded with them by supplying the J-government with secret information and intelligence on the Allies.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Obviously, history is different from Japan's perspective.

3 ( +19 / -16 )

All any of you "lets move on" crowd have to do is look up Tojos own words in the diary he wrote while on trial. The excuses he gave for invading china instead of admitting colonial illusions of grandeur.

Deny it all you want but hirohito signed off on all military attrocities. He truly was the luckiest war criminal in all known history.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Japan is crying victim again as it was “forced to attack” Pearl Harbor due to the oil embargo. This has been emphasized many times via Akira Ikegami and so on but they never explain why the US did that; for the sake of China.

There should be a accompanying 500 page report out instead of just a 5 page memo.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan is thus lucky to have kept its monarchy. Italy, the Italian people were disgusted by their king's complicity in WW2, and his open support to Mussolini. For that, the Italian monarchy was abolished, and the royal family kicked out of Italy. A monarch should have no involvement in politics, but this document supports Hirohito's support...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

...when America went to war it Navy was far inferior to the Japanese, but from superior battle tactics and a number of strategic blunders by the IJN the US was able to catch and exceed the IJN might.

I was under the impression that there really was very little chance from the get-go of Japan prevailing. The U.S. was too rich in resources and people-power. What I would ask those who have studied this is: If Japan really didn't have a great chance, what was it in the mentality of those at the time that pushed them forward? I have a feeling that the leadership had a very poor judge of reality. Even the end, a big school of thought is that they were never going to give up...they were going to pull the temple down on their heads.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If Japan really didn't have a great chance, what was it in the mentality of those at the time that pushed them forward? I have a feeling that the leadership had a very poor judge of reality.

In hindsight this makes sense.

However, consider the situation in the autumn of 1941: France defeated and occupied, Britain limited to fighting on the periphery of Europe, German armies seemingly unstoppable in the Soviet Union.

And while this happened and was happening the USA was not engaged.

For Emperor Showa and his advisors to think that Roosevelt would continue to “do nothing” was not unreasonable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Maybe they imagined the US would need 500 useless meetings about what to do next. ironically when America went to war it Navy was far inferior to the Japanese, but from superior battle tactics and a number of strategic blunders by the IJN the US was able to catch and exceed the IJN might.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

no doubt he'll get a suspended sentence, next case...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Now that was what you call a real cult! And so the cult leader, in this case at least, was deemed too big to hang. Unlike leaders of lesser cults, he escaped the noose he so deserved. Without a doubt, the luckiest man in Japan!

0 ( +14 / -14 )

 Emperor Hirohito was just a figurehead, he had no power to stop the attacks on USA

If he had issued a proclamation in public that he was against it, you really think it would have happened? He had the power, he just decided not to use it

0 ( +2 / -2 )

quercetumJuly 29  11:28 pm JST

The fact of the matter are that FDR and the Military High Command, and US Big Business, wanted to join the war against Hitler....

Read Robert B Stinnett's 'Day of Deceit'. Stinnett was a highly decorated retired Naval Officer, and had served in the same aerial photo group as George H. W. Bush in WWII.

Haven’t read it but history isn’t one person’s book Communism was the big enemy of the 30's among the powerful of the USA. Staying out of the war was being promoted but the USA is not a coquettish diva that needs to lure Japan to attack Pearl Harbor in order to join the war. It was already going to enter the war

0 ( +1 / -1 )

shallotsToday  07:55 am JST

I was under the impression that there really was very little chance from the get-go of Japan prevailing. The U.S. was too rich in resources and people-power. What I would ask those who have studied this is: If Japan really didn't have a great chance, what was it in the mentality of those at the time that pushed them forward?

I can't find a link to the article any more but a few years ago I read that an IJA general was instructed to assess Japan's chances of winning a war against the USA. Apparently he deliberately fudged the numbers quite a bit, using statistics about post WW1 US military strength, in order to present the High Command with the optimistic assessment that he felt they wanted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Few warmongers pay for their misdeeds.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Always thought he was a puppet of the Imperial Army,but if he was tacitly involved? Well... changes my feelings about him,while thinking he got lucky not getting the noose himself.But then again,he might have been a puppet who had to go along with the army's actions. Who knows...now anyway?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"When I recognized the date, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, I knew it was something special," 

If the countdown to war briefing was held "just hours before the attack" and Vice Interior Minister Michio Yuzawa, wrote an account three hours after the meeting was over, the date of the memo would be Monday, Dec. 8, 1941.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japan had a better chance to overtake and conquer all China, make it New Japan than what happened historically. Instead they fell pansy to the Germans to test the US resilience.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Takahisa Furukawa would do well to read Robert B Stinnett's 'Day of Deceit', and comment on that.

Japan was lured to attack the US by increasingly harsh sanctions, the 'Eight Point Plan', deliberately planned to get Japan to attack the US.

Stinnett does not blame FDR, who OK'd the plan, but spent 17 years researching the book to get to the truth.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

@ quercetumJuly 29  11:28 pm JST

The fact of the matter are that FDR and the Military High Command, and US Big Business, wanted to join the war against Hitler. So FDR's National Security Officer came up with an '8 Point Plan' that would lure Japan into attacking the US. Read Robert B Stinnett's 'Day of Deceit'. Stinnett was a highly decorated retired Naval Officer, and had served in the same aerial photo group as George H. W. Bush in WWII.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

It is pretty obvious. America cut fuel to japan so they could enter the war at the last moment.

-11 ( +10 / -21 )

Everything was US demand.  Just like now.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

If we talk about Hirohito’s responsibility for starting the war, we should also be talking about Churchill and Roosevelt’s for provoking Japan into the war and prolonging the bloodshed by refusing Japan’s repeated proposals for ceasefire.

-17 ( +4 / -21 )

Speculations.

It doesn't prove anything.

-18 ( +10 / -28 )

Time to move on, it was almost 80 years ago. Japan has been peace loving for all that time. Anyway, Emperor Hirohito was just a figurehead, he had no power to stop the attacks on USA. And remember, the attack on Pearl Harbor was desperation due to Japan being starved of oil by USA.

Why are these documents being released now? Seems like for political reasons

-28 ( +9 / -37 )

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