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Hirohito - Conduct During the War

WARNING:  THIS CLIP CONTAINS WAR SCENES WHICH MAY UPSET VIEWERS.  PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

History records that Hirohito seemed to be in a good mood on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.  Historians argue that when he approved the attack, he also bore moral responsibility for taking his country to war.

Initially, during the War in the Pacific, Japan's military was extremely effective.  Their growing geographical gains extended south, nearly to Australia.  (Later, it was Australian and New Zealand officials who believed the Emperor should have been charged with war crimes.)

When the tide of war began to turn against Japan - in the summer of 1943 - Hirohito's government would not contemplate defeat.  Hirohito's emissaries encouraged the troops to rally, but someone had to take the fall for the military losses.  It was Tojo, the Prime Minister, who stepped aside.

The Emperor demanded renewed tenacity as things grew even worse for Japan, during 1944.  One tragic battle-result, after another, continued. 

People jumped to their deaths, on Pacific islands, afraid they would be treated extremely badly by Allied troops.  "It was chaos," recalled one survivor who witnessed the killing of his family.  "As I grew up, my guilt increased."  He was 16 years old at the time.

Hirohito approved suicidal air units called kamikaze.  "No one wanted to do it," recalls one surviving kamikaze pilot.  They proved to be effective weapons, against the Allies, but even they were ultimately not successful in stemming the tide of Allied victories in the Pacific.

See, also:

Hirohito - Emperor of Japan

Hirohito - As a Young Man

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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