View Full Version : Book Reveals Hirohito the Militarist

John Lindsey
14th August 2000, 00:07
Japan: U.S. helped create the late emperor's passive image, which belied his part in aggression, a potentially explosive tome says.

By SONNI EFRON, Times Staff Writer

TOKYO--Dec. 8, 1941, was a busy day for Emperor Hirohito.
After receiving reports of the successful Japanese surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor and other strategic sites in the Pacific--a battle plan he had known about in intimate detail for a month--he spent the day in meetings with his prime minister, privy council and senior military leaders.
"Throughout the day, the emperor wore his naval uniform and seemed to be in a splendid mood," recorded the diary of Hirohito's top naval aide, Eiichiro Jo.
A biting biography to be published later this month demolishes the stereotype of Japan's wartime emperor as a mousy and passive figurehead who was merely the puppet of the militarist clique that drove the nation to war.
"Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan," a potentially politically charged tome by historian Herbert P. Bix, is already drawing plaudits from scholars on both sides of the Pacific. It portrays the late emperor as smarter, shrewder, better informed and more energetic than people thought.
Unapologetic to the last, Hirohito was an autocrat whose ultimate loyalty was not to his people but to his ancestors, the book asserts. He hid behind his passive image but was in fact at the very center of the Japanese political system--not only before but also after World War II.
The book documents how Hirohito and his aides collaborated with U.S. occupation authorities to shield the emperor from any responsibility for the aggression committed in his name. Bix argues that this joint whitewash--which protected the political interests of each nation--fundamentally distorted the development of Japanese democracy.
The Japanese-based Bix, whose book is scheduled to be released by HarperCollins in the U.S. on Aug. 27, draws on letters and diaries of Imperial Court and government officials and other documents, many of which have only begun to trickle out in the 11 years since Hirohito's death.
Scholars predicted that the book will spur demands for the governments of Japan and America to throw open still-secret records from the war. A resolution demanding that the United States declassify information about Japanese war crimes is pending in the U.S. Senate.
The book may also give fresh ammunition to the U.S. activists who are waging a legal and political campaign to force Japan to take more meaningful responsibility for its wartime transgressions.
"It's utterly sensational," said Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute in Cardiff, Calif., who predicted that the book will be "of great political significance."
"Bix reveals new information on the degree to which the U.S. government systematically deceived its own people and the rest of the world about Hirohito's involvement," Johnson said. "Hirohito was placed back on the throne and told to keep his mouth shut in order to make Japan what it is today: a secure American satellite."

Read the whole article at: http://www.latimes.com/news/asection/20000811/t000075245.html