Hirohito - Emperor of Japan

Hirohito, Emperor of Japan during World War II, was known as "Tenno" to the Japanese people.  He had ascended the “Chrysanthemum Throne” in 1926, after the death of his father, the Emperor Yoshihito.

Hirohito, as his grandfather before him, was considered to be a god by his countrymen.  After the war—when his subjects heard Hirohito’s voice for the first time, announcing Japan’s surrender—they realized he was only a man.

How did Hirohito evade responsibility for the war?  Other Japanese people were charged with war-crimes, but why was the man at the top—the one who had approved the Pearl Harbor attacks—not charged?

During the spring of 1946, in a series of secret meetings with his advisors, Hirohito gave an explanation (among other things) for the country's decision to go to war in 1941. Terasaki Hidenari, a career diplomat (who was married to an American from Tennessee), recorded Hirohito's Monologue (which is known, in Japan, as Showa tenno no dokuhaku).

Hidenari's daughter found those notes—after her parents' deaths—but she did not immediately realize their historical significance.  Hirohito's Monologue was published in 1990.

Although he claimed, in his Monologue, that he was powerless to stop the flow of events—for example, battles at Okinawa, Peleliu, SaipanIwo Jima and the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war—not everyone agrees with his position. 

Those disagreements, and debates about his level of responsibility, continue seventy years after the war with Japan ended.

See, also, the following additional four parts of this story:

Hirohito - As a Young Man

Hirohito - Conduct During the War

Hirohito - Immediately After the War

Hirohito - Was He Responsible for the Pacifc War?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

Media Credits

Clip from the BBC series, produced and directed by Tim Robinson, "As it Happened" - episode, "Emperor Hirohito."  Copyright, BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the program.  Subtitles by Hiroko Moore and Brenden Dannaher, copyright SBS Australia.


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"Hirohito - Emperor of Japan" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jan 18, 2020.
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