The Japanese rightist

Friday, December 15, 2006

The last figure of conscience, Emperor Hirohito

When discussing Emperors in Japan, it's enough to just remember the representative one, Emperor Hirohito, the most hatred and beloved Emperor holding throne throughout WWII. This article today will not discuss whether he was guilty or not of being defeatd in WWII. Such a dualism doesn't make the discussion profound. This time I'd like to focus on his personalility, and try to get the lowdown on the mystery: why did he survive?

I came across the reason, when I saw a videoclip from 1947 in Hiroshima, just two years after the atomic bomb. A small man with a hat gets out of a black car, being surrounded by refugees and neighbors who gathered up to see him. He may as well being killed there because people experienced such a devastating defeat just because of believing him. It was natural at least to see a scenery of people throwing debris at him as he was the symbol of Japanese unification.

The reaction people showed, however, was completely incomprehensive, sobbing all around with him. He took off his hat, bowing lightly, and speaking to orphants. When he went to Tokyo (1946) for consolation after air bombardment and surrender, people raised their both hands and shouted "Bansai (means viva!)" to him with no one forced them to do it. They pushed away GHQ (US soldiers) and ran toward him.

To tell the truth, people had never seen real Emperor Hirohito standing on ground because of "deification campaign" by government before the end of WWII. A picture of Emperor Hirohito on a white horse was the only him people could glimpse at. But note that the typical depiction that he was the god may convey a little misunderstanding. In European world where monotheism is the standard decipline, "the god" sounds the absolute entity. Here in Japan, we use that word indeed frequently; gods are everywhere. Dead people can even become gods after death.

Since his decision of surrender and proclamation as a human, it was the most radiative period for him until the government and massmedia made him a taboo again a decade and put him behind the curtain later. (He didn't have effective power on the cabinet because even he couldn't stop the cabinet from going to the war. It was a democratic country Japan was!)

I once thought that he would be guilty if other ministries were. But the more I get to know him, the more I want to let him be alone. Just hearing his numerous episodes, Japanese never be able to logically think about him or look him as one the the rest of ministers.

He had survived 1411 places of his consolation visits until his death. He regretted that he lost chance to visit the last place, Okinawa, where the fircest combats were taken place; he wasn't allowed to conduct this plan because of cancer.

An episode reminds me of "samurai" spirit in him: when greeting MacArthur for the first time, Hirohito begged him to save as many Japanese civilains as possible using his personal assets. MacArthur was strongly moved by his attitude. (The details are only written MacArthur's reminiscences since Hirohito never wrote about his biography. MacArthur is known to decorate his reminiscences. I am doubtful if the greeting was that beautiful. Let me know if you happened to know anything.)

People may have seen the real self-sacrificing and frugal "samurai" spirit in him, overlapping the old leaders, "samurai" who were downfallen just because they were thinking of helping poor people.

During Emperor Hirohito studied abroad in his youth, he took part in a dance party in London. Looking at Duke of Atholl dancing pleasantly with a wife of a cattleman, he mumbled, "this is the way people should be!" His character and "samurai" spirit may have been developed with such an obedient learning style from developed societies in Western Europe.

Literally, he was the last conscience for starving people.


At 12/16/2006 05:16:00 PM , Anonymous Shura said...

Hirohito was a peaceful man that liked to pursue his study of marine biology rather than deal with military matters. He was NOT the mastermind behind Japan's imperialism or the atrocities that followed it like some people would like to believe. He even offered to take all the blame for the wartime atrocities to Macarthur, which was refused. Cynical critics of Macarthur's refusal to try the emperor for war crimes would point out that the Generalissimo utilized the Emperor's prestige and position to help rebuild and democratize Japan. Hirohito was not in favor of Japan's military expansion and certainly not of the war crimes that followed.
And despite the Chinese and Koreans making noise about Japan's growing assertiveness in defense, Japan is now a peaceful nation and doesn't have any traces of the sort of mentality that the generations of the pre-1945 did to other nations and peoples.

At 12/18/2006 08:24:00 AM , Anonymous Jun said...

Dear Japanese rightist,
I am Korean foreign student in Japan. I have been studying japanese for some months now, but I still can't speak. What I realized is that the Japanese have lots of different ways of calling people, like "san", "kun" and "chan". Which one is the most appropriate to call the emperor and empress, and other members of the imperial family? I am asking you because you seem to know a lot about japanese culture. Are you japanese?
PS: In case you are japanese, your english is very good. Where did you learn it?

At 12/18/2006 08:52:00 PM , Blogger yellowpeep said...

Is your thinking also popular in your country? To begin with, I don't know your nationality.

There were several comments Hirohito left, praising a win of a combat in WWII or second Sino-Japanese war. I don't quite remember it though.

I also heard about his hobby, biology. He scolded his servant for referring to weed as a weed. "There's no weed that doesn't have its name," Hirohito said.

At 12/18/2006 09:19:00 PM , Blogger yellowpeep said...


When calling emperor, "heika" is added after his name like you use "san" or "chan" for other people. "heika" probably means "understairs" as far as I recall, but forgot the reason. Or "ten-nou" can be added, too. That means emperor in Japan.

Or you could use "sama" as you do to your superiors. "sama" is kind of a formal one, so I seldom use it unless writing a letter. This is also used for designating other imperial families.

Those usages are complicated, as well as I have never used "Majesty" when living in America. You turn on cheap Japanese TV programs and you could learn those words.

Don't worry about speaking Japanese. Korean tend to be the best Japanese speakers since grammers are similar.

A Korean friend of mine made fun of me because I can't correctly pronounce "kimchee" :-). It was a good memory. He was a little bit older than I and he helped me a lot about my career.

Make good Japanese friends while you are there, and you'll have a good memory, too.

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Anyways, I saved a lot of money cleaning my shithole with Japanese people's faces instead of toilet papers.

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At 9/23/2018 11:37:00 PM , Anonymous Dr Amin Plastic Surgoen said...

I feel shame for what they have done to those people of China and other Asian countries, yes it was war, but it was wrong. Only thing I can do to make it better, as most Japanese people do is learn from their mistakes because the history cannot be taken back, which is not to ever participate in the war just for the sake of more territory or more natural resources or whatever the reason may be. He is the reason we’re still getting blamed for this stupid/awful past even though the current generations are not the people who are responsible and I or even my parents were not even born at that time and my grandmas and grandpas already passed away.

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