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December 1, 1941: Hirohito Gives Approval for War Against US and Great Britain

In the wake of World War II a useful fiction was promulgated by the Japanese government, with the active connivance of the US Occupation under General Douglas MacArthur, that Hirohito had been anti-war and helpless to stop the militarists who controlled Japan.  It is astounding how many people, against all historical evidence, bought into this rubbish, and still buy into it.  Seventy-six years ago Hirohito gave his approval for war against the US and the British Empire, not grudgingly, but as part of a very long term plan to make Japan the undisputed dominant power in East Asia.

 

MacArthur had little doubt of Hirohito’s war guilt, but he also had little doubt that Hirohito’s cooperation was necessary for a peaceful occupation of Japan.  Hirohito thus served as a figure head while MacArthur, the Yankee Shogun, remade Japan.  This picture tells us all we need to know about the relationship between the two men:

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MacArthur encountered considerable resistance to his decision not to prosecute Hirohito.  Belief in Hirohito’s war guilt was an article of faith in America and in the other nations that had fought Japan.  MacArthur played along with the fable promoted by the Japanese government that Hirohito had always been a man of peace, who was powerless in the face of the militarists who ran Japan.  This myth, well bald-faced lie would be a more accurate description, was surprisingly successful.  The first major scholarly attack on it was by David Bergamini’s 1200 page Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy, published in 1971.  Read a review of it here. Continue Reading

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January 1, 1946: Hirohito States That He Is Not a God

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1946 began with a bang in Japan with the release of an Imperial Rescript by Hirohito in which he stated that he was not a god:

In greeting the New Year, We recall to mind that Emperor Meiji proclaims as the basis of our national policy, the Five Clauses of the Charter-Oath at the beginning of the Meiji Era. The Charter-Oath signified: 

  1. Deliberative assemblies shall be established and all measures of government decided in accordance with public opinion.
  2. All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the affairs of State.
  3. All common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall be allowed to fulfill their just desires so that there may not be any discontent among them.
  4. All the absurd usages of old shall be broken through, and equality and justice to be found in the workings of nature shall serve as the basis of action.
  5. Wisdom and knowledge shall be sought throughout the world for the purpose of promoting the welfare of the Empire.

     The proclamation is evident in significance and high in its ideals. We wish to make this oath anew and restore the country to stand on its own feet again.

     We have to reaffirm the principles embodied in the Charter, and proceed unflinchingly towards elimination of misguided practices of the past, and keeping in close touch with the desires of the people, we will construct a new Japan through thoroughly being pacific, the officials and the people alike, attaining rich culture, and advancing the standard of living of the people.

     The devastation of war inflicted upon our cities, the miseries of the destitute, the stagnation of trade, shortage of food, and great and growing number of the unemployed are indeed heart-rending.

     But if the nation is firmly united in its resolve to face the present ordeal and to seek civilization consistently in peace, a bright future will undoubtedly be ours, not only for our country, but for the whole humanity.

     Love of the family and love of the country are especially strong in this country. With more of this devotion should we now work towards love of mankind.

     We feel deeply concerned to note that consequent upon the protracted war ending in our defeat, our people are liable to grow restless and to fall into the Slough of Despond.

     Radical tendencies in excess are gradually spreading and the sense of morality tends to lose its hold on the people, with the result that there are signs of confusion of thoughts.

     We stand by the people and We wish always to share with them in their moments of joys and sorrows.

The ties between Us and Our people have always stood mutual trust and affection. They do not depend upon mere legends and myths.

     They are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine, and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world.

     Our Government should make every effort to alleviate their trials and tribulations.

     At the same time, We trust that the people will rise to the occasion, and will strive courageously for the solution of their outstanding difficulties, and for the development of industry and culture.

     Acting upon a consciousness of solidarity and of mutual aid and broad tolerance in their civic life, they will prove themselves worthy of their best tradition.

     By their supreme endeavours in that direction, they will be able to render their substantial contribution to the welfare and advancement of mankind.

     The resolution for the year should be made at the beginning of the year. We expect Our people to join Us in all exertions looking to accomplishment of this great undertaking with an indomitable spirit. Continue Reading

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Feeding Japan

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The most pressing problem facing General Douglas MacArthur as the post war ruler of a devastated Japan was the prospect of famine.  MacArthur immediately set up feeding stations throughout Japan in order to feed the tens of millions of Japanese who had been left completely indigent as a result of the War.  News of this filtered back to the states and was ill received in an America still angry from a War begun by a sneak attack and in the throes of mourning 400,000 war dead.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned MacArthur against the gratuitous use of US supplies to relieve Japan. Continue Reading

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October 4, 1945: The Birth of Japanese Civil Liberties

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General MacArthur wasted no time in letting the Japanese government know precisely the direction that the new Japan would take. By his directive of October 4, 1945,  (SCAPIN-93) he ordered the Japanese government to remove restrictions on the civil, political and religious rights of Japanese citizens.

Five days after the directive, the Japanese prime minister resigned, unwilling to carry out this sweeping change.  His successor released all political prisoners, repealed or abrogated fifteen laws restricting the rights of the Japanese people and began a far sweeping purge of government officials wedded to the old regime.  Continue Reading

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus

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While he was Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan, General MacArthur had a framed quote on his wall.  The quote is from the Roman conqueror of Macedonia Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, or at least the words that Livy put into the mouth of Paullus:

Do you give full credit to whatever I shall write to you, or to the senate; but do not by your credulity encourage mere rumours, of which no man shall appear as the responsible author.  For, no man is so entirely regardless of reputation, as that his spirits cannot be damped; which I have observed has commonly occurred, especially in this war.  In every circle, and, truly, at every table, there are people who lead armies into Macedonia; who know where the camp ought to be placed; what posts ought to be occupied by troops; when and through what pass Macedonia should be entered; where magazines should be formed; how provisions should be conveyed by land and sea; and when it is proper to engage the enemy, when to lie quiet. And they not only determine what is best to be done, but if any thing is done in any other manner than what they have pointed out, they arraign the consul, as if he were on his trial. These are great impediments to those who have the management of affairs; for every one cannot encounter injurious reports with the same constancy and firmness of mind as Fabius did, who chose to let his own authority be diminished through the folly of the people, rather than to mismanage the public business with a high reputation.  I am not one of those who think that commanders ought never to receive advice; on the contrary, I should deem that man more proud than wise, who did every thing of his own single judgment. What then is my opinion?  That commanders should be counselled, chiefly, by persons of known talent; by those, especially, who are skilled in the art of war, and who have been taught by experience; and next, by those who are present at the scene of action, who see the country, who see the enemy; who see the advantages that occasions offer, and who, embarked, as it were, in the same ship, are sharers of the danger.  If, therefore, any one thinks himself qualified to give advice respecting the war which I am to conduct, which may prove advantageous to the public, let him not refuse his assistance to the state, but let him come with me into Macedonia. He shall be furnished by me with a ship, a horse, a tent; and even with his travelling charges.  But if he thinks this too much trouble, and prefers the repose of a city life to the toils of war, let him not, on land, assume the office of a pilot.

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September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

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When MacArthur took up his command as Supreme Commander Allied Powers it was suggested by aides that he summon Hirohito to appear before him.  MacArthur rejected that suggestion, stating that it was important that Hirohito come to him voluntarily.  That he did on September 27, 1945, the first of eight meetings between the Emperor and the American Shogun.  The meeting lasted only a few minutes with Hirohito taking complete responsibility for the War and requesting that any punishment for the War fall on him.  MacArthur said that the War was over and that he wished to work with the Emperor for the betterment of Japan.  Continue Reading

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Japan Remains One Country

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One of the more decisive decisions of the Occupation of Japan, that Japan would remain one state, was made early in the process by General MacArthur.  The Soviets planned to occupy the northern island of Hokkaido and establish a puppet Soviet regime, identical to what was occurring in East Germany.  If this had succeeded, Japan could have been divided into a Communist North Japan and a Democratic South Japan for the length of the Cold War.  Appeasement of the Soviets was still very much in favor at the State Department, and it is possible that if the Soviets had simply begun landing in Hokkaido, that Washington may have capitulated on that point.  After all, the Soviets were full members, with Great Britain, in the Allied commission to supervise and monitor the Supreme Commander in Tokyo.  The Soviets also insisted upon a tri-partite division of Tokyo, similar to what was being done in Berlin.  MacArthur would have none of it. Continue Reading

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September 14, 1945: Statement by MacArthur

 

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The task confronting MacArthur seventy years ago in Japan was absolutely staggering.  As Supreme Commander Allied Powers, he found himself in charge of a devastated Japan. Most of its major cities were collections of rubble.   The Japanese rail system was in shambles from Allied bombing.   Most of the Japanese merchant fleet was now sailing the bottom of the Pacific. An immense famine was manifestly waiting in the wings.  The Japanese shattered medical system was unable to cope with rampant disease.   Finally, the Japanese economy was at a virtual standstill, awaiting the repatriation of millions of Japanese troops stationed overseas to add to the ranks of the unemployed.  To top this off, MacArthur also had to fend off loud demands from politicians and ordinary American citizens that Japan be punished, anger at the unprovoked war still being raw in the United States.  MacArthur, ever sensitive to public opinion, on September 14, 1945 released a statement to give some inkling to his fellow countrymen of the situation in Japan:

STATEMENT BY GENERAL MACARTHUR ON THE OCCUPATION OF JAPAN

September 14, 1945

New York Times.

I have noticed some impatience in the press, based upon the assumption of a so-called soft policy in Japan. This can only arise from an erroneous concept of what is occurring.

The first phase of the occupation must of necessity be based on military considerations which involved the deployment forward of our troops and the disarming and demobilization of the enemy. This is coupled with the paramount consideration of withdrawing our former prisoners of war and war internees from internment camps and evacuating them to their homes.

Safety and security require that all of the steps shall proceed with precision and completeness, lest calamity may be precipitated.

The military phase is proceeding in an entirely satisfactory way.

Over half of the enemy’s force in Japan proper is now demobilized and the entire program will be practically complete by the middle of October. During this interval of time, safety and complete security must be assured.

When the first phase is completed, other phases as provided in the surrender terms will infallibly follow. No one need have any doubt about the prompt, complete, entire fulfillment of the terms of surrender. The process, however, takes time. It is well understandable that in the face of atrocities committed by the enemy there should be impatience. This natural impulse, however, should be tempered by the fact that security and military expediency still require an exercise of some restraint. The surrender terms aren’t soft and they won’t be applied in kid-glove fashion.

Economically and industrially as well as militarily, Japan is completely exhausted and depleted. She is in a condition of utter collapse. Her governmental structure is controlled completely by occupation forces and is operating only to the extent necessary to insure such an orderly and controlled procedure as will prevent social chaos, disease and starvation. Continue Reading