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Hirohito - As a Young Man

WARNING:  THIS CLIP CONTAINS HISTORICAL FOOTAGE OF WAR.  IT ALSO CONTAINS INTERVIEWS WITH FORMER JAPANESE SOLDIERS WHO TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY DID DURING THE WAR.  PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Who was Hirohito?  What was he like as a boy?  What are his family roots? Did Japanese emperors always possess great power?  

Before 1868, history reveals that Japanese emperors were little more than figureheads.  Hirohito's grandfather - Emperor Meiji - changed that.  It was he who had presided over Japan's opening-up to the West, during the late nineteenth century.  He was a strong emperor and a role model for his grandson.

Born in 1901, Hirohito was raised in the Imperial Palace where his atmosphere was both sheltering and isolated.  He came to the throne at a young age - 16 - after his father (Emperor Yoshihito) died. Thereafter, Japanese militarists changed the direction of the country.  People became the Emperor's subjects and much of what children learned in school was about the Emperor (as opposed to subjects like humanitarian values).

Hierarchy was extremely important in Hirohito's Japan.  The Emperor, of course, was at the top.  He was followed by the royal family; next came aristocrats.  The Japanese people were somewhere below all of that while foreigners fared even worse. 

A new type of Japanese nationalism began to take root.  When it spread, militaristic attitudes threatened the country's relations with its neighbors - like China.

When Hirohito approved the actions of his military, in China, it was fair to wonder what the future would hold if the government of Japan developed disagreements with other countries.

See, also:

Hirohito - Emperor of Japan

Hirohito - Conduct During the War

Hirohito - Immediately After the War

Hirohito - Was He Responsible for the Pacifc War?

 


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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