Emperor Hirohito's memoir chronicles Japan's descent into war_Lifestyle_Asia Pacific Daily

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Emperor Hirohito's memoir chronicles Japan's descent into war

Lifestyle2017-12-06

In an account directly dictated by the man himself, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito did not veto his advisers’ decision to declare war on the United States in 1941 because he feared triggering an internal conflict that would destroy his country. Set for auction in New York on Wednesday, the handwritten document illuminates Japan’s role in World War II, as it records events dating from the 1920s, such as Hirohito’s resolve not to oppose future cabinet decisions, even if he disagreed. Japanese Emperor Hirohito “He realized that if he wanted to be in power, he had to do what they wanted,” said Tom Lamb, director of the books and manuscripts department at auction house Bonhams. “And that is an interesting fact, since, throughout the late 1930s and through the 1940s, military decisions were made, which he could not contest,” he said. The auctioneers have put an estimate of 100,000 to 150,000 US dollars on the manuscript, which consists of two browning twine-bound notebooks written in pen and pencil by Terasaki Hidenari, an interpreter and adviser to the emperor, in 1946. The memoir concludes with the emperor’s statement that if he had vetoed the decision to go to war, it would have resulted in a civil conflict that would have been even worse and “Japan would have been destroyed,” the auction house said on its website. Known in Japanese as “Dokuhakuroku”, or “The Emperor’s Monologue”, the remarks may offer insight into the role the monarch played in the war campaign. This is a topic academics say has never been fully pursued in Japan, largely due to US occupation authorities’ decision to retain the emperor as a symbol of a newly-democratic nation. “The Americans needed Emperor Hirohito to bind the country together, which he did,” Lamb added. “The whole of Japan changed from a rather military pre-war style to a postwar economic powerhouse, and obviously the emperor was part of that.” (REUTERS)

In an account directly dictated by the man himself, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito did not veto his advisers’ decision to declare war on the United States in 1941 because he feared triggering an internal conflict that would destroy his country.

Set for auction in New York on Wednesday, the handwritten document illuminates Japan’s role in World War II, as it records events dating from the 1920s, such as Hirohito’s resolve not to oppose future cabinet decisions, even if he disagreed.

Japanese Emperor Hirohito

Japanese Emperor Hirohito

“He realized that if he wanted to be in power, he had to do what they wanted,” said Tom Lamb, director of the books and manuscripts department at auction house Bonhams.

“And that is an interesting fact, since, throughout the late 1930s and through the 1940s, military decisions were made, which he could not contest,” he said.

The auctioneers have put an estimate of 100,000 to 150,000 US dollars on the manuscript, which consists of two browning twine-bound notebooks written in pen and pencil by Terasaki Hidenari, an interpreter and adviser to the emperor, in 1946.

The memoir concludes with the emperor’s statement that if he had vetoed the decision to go to war, it would have resulted in a civil conflict that would have been even worse and “Japan would have been destroyed,” the auction house said on its website.

Known in Japanese as “Dokuhakuroku”, or “The Emperor’s Monologue”, the remarks may offer insight into the role the monarch played in the war campaign.

This is a topic academics say has never been fully pursued in Japan, largely due to US occupation authorities’ decision to retain the emperor as a symbol of a newly-democratic nation.

“The Americans needed Emperor Hirohito to bind the country together, which he did,” Lamb added.

“The whole of Japan changed from a rather military pre-war style to a postwar economic powerhouse, and obviously the emperor was part of that.”

(REUTERS)

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