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Book Review: Hirohito, The Shōwa Emperor's Post-war Japan 《昭和天皇的戰後日本》(Narahiko Toyoshita ; 2015)

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

FILE PHOTO: A Book Cover of Hirohito,  The Shōwa Emperor's Post-war Japan. ©Iwanami Shoten
FILE PHOTO: A Book Cover of Hirohito, The Shōwa Emperor's Post-war Japan. ©Iwanami Shoten

Author: Narahiko Toyoshita (1945-)

Japanese: 昭和天皇の戦後日本 〈憲法・安保体制〉にいたる道

ISBN:4000610554/ 978-4000610551 (JP)

Hirohito (1901-1989)sold Okinawa people and Japanese sovereignty to US imperialism in order to protect monarchy after the surrender of Japan to the allied forces in 1945? Here is the answer in this brilliant biography of one of notable axis leaders, Hirohito written by the respected Japanese scholar Narahiko Toyoshita (1945-).

''Embracing the defeat'' is still difficult for the Japanese ruling class entirely even though they have been successfully survived since the fatal defeat of the war in 1945 by strategically serving US interests and their own individual benefits at the cost of Japanese working class. In other words, Hirohito and the fate of monarchy are symbolised reflection of how the ''Japanese right wing'' ruling class has survived the defeat.

This book is not a Marxist historical book thus it lacks historical materialism. Alternatively, it's written as a critical biography of the oriental fascist dictator but it still can provide rarely told historical facts in detail in order to correctly identify who he was. It is also vitally important to accurately read Japanese politics and news of today from the historical perspective because Japan still can't end the ''post-war'' controversies, furthermore right wing historical revisionism is also severe.

Why Japan still can't end the ''post-war'' era? There are several reasons for this.

  1. Showa Emperor Hirohito did not take any responsibility for the war. No apology, no regret shown by him. Moreover, Hirohito even did not abdicate himself from the throne of imperial Japan. His fate was a sheer contrast to other defeated axis leaders Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) and Benito Mussolini (1883-1945).

  2. Showa Emperor Hirohito proactively asked the US occupational army to continue its occupation, then Douglas Macarthur (1880-1964) and John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) agreed with him. As the result, Japanese Monarchy and Security Treaty Between the United States and Japan; the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution contradictorily coexisted as ''American benefits''.

  3. Shigeru Yoshida (1878-1967) who wrongly interpreted as a ''pro-independent'' patriot was actually a US-UK puppet, and he also was a warmonger who advocated a war against China. In fact, PM Yoshida tried to avoid security treaty issues with US several times, and finally followed Showa Emperor's post-war Japan ''obedience to US'' policy.

  4. During the crisis of monarchy, Showa Emperor Hirohito, the leader of absolute monarchy and later constitutional monarchy had acted as a coward who was afraid of any military coup. Thus he did not oppose wars, caused 3.1 million deaths of Japanese people during the war.

  5. Post-war Japanese societal system is bureaucracy protected by USFJ which is totally irresponsible to the war crimes they made.

In short, Hirohito's post-war diplomacy was totally unconstitutional. I must write taboos here about him.

Hirohito proposed the notorious Okinawa Disposition to US occupational forces (US had occupied Okinawa until 1972; formed systematic discrimination against Okinawa by mainlanders); Hirohito opposed withdrawal of US occupational forces which proposed by ministry of foreign affairs Mamoru Shigemitsu (1887-1957). It meant continuation of US occupation of Japan after Japan's ''official independence.'' Also Hirohito eagerly supported US occupation to deflect International Military Tribunal for the Far East (1946-8); He completely scapegoated Hideki Tojo (1884-1948) for all war crimes because US instructed Tojo to be scapegoated for him; Constitution of Japan (1947) was written as ''democracy secured by emperor.'' The democratic constitution has preserved undemocratic monarchy; Hirohito said both Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs were ''unavoidable.'' Furthermore, Hirohito suggested the US general Matthew Ridgway (1895-1993) to nuke Korean Peninsula, China and Soviet Union during the Korean War(1950-3); anti-Soviet encirclement and Value Oriented Diplomacy were products of Hirohito because he suggested US to take those measures for the first time.

Hence, Hirohito did not care about if his acts were whether constitutional or unconstitutional, warmongering or peaceful, he even did not cherish national sovereignty and Okinawa etc..

For him, only monarch conservation was everything throughout pre-war, war and post-war eras.

I can make Q&A from this book below:

Q1: Hirohito and his royal family were supporters of Constitution of Japan (1947)?

A: Hirohito had supported US occupational forces, in return, he successfully preserved monarchy in the new constitution since 1947. That's enough for him to thank US occupiers.

''Hirohito told Douglas Macarthur (1880-1964) that Constitution of Japan (1947) will be the base for Japan's New Democratic construction, also he thanked Supreme Allied Commander for amendment of the imperial constitution. (Constitution of Japan was seen as the result of amendment)'' (1)

Q2: Hirohito was a supporter of International Military Tribunal for the Far East (1946-8)?

A: In fact, Hirohito published criticism against Tojo in major US-UK newspapers, and then he successfully scapegoated Tojo for his war crimes. As the result, International Military Tribunal for the Far East (1946-8) absolved him. Later Hirohito directly thanked Douglas Macarthur (1880-1964) for the trail which made him innocent.

''Hirohito (to Douglas Macarthur): I express my gratitude to you for your position on the trial.'' (2)

Q3: Hirohito was a supporter of Yasukuni Shrine?

A: Grand Steward of the Imperial Household Office, Matsudaira Yoshitami (1882-1948)'s son, Nagayoshi Matsudaira who became the head priest of Yasukuni Shrine enshrined war criminals as his opposition to the verdicts of the Tokyo trial in the name of ''For Restoring Japanese Spirit'' in 1978. Since then, Hirohito strongly condemned his decision, and royal family has rejected visiting the controversial shrine.

''Hirohito: A child does not know how deeply concerned his parents are about him.

In 1987, Hirohito also said:

This day, this year. I every time deeply feel great sorrow about Yasukuni's shrine.'' (3)

Q4: Hirohito was the founder of the post-war Japan's client state system (Continuation of the US Occupation; Monarchy based on Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan)?

A: Hirohito offered for the US to continue its occupation after the ''independence'' of Japan. Then, Douglas Macarthur (1880-1964) and John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) agreed. Furthermore, Hirohito decided to sacrifice Okinawa for negotiation. However fairness in negotiation between US and Japan was only a wish when Hirohito recklessly sought continuation of US occupation on his land. Hence Japan lost its bargaining power from the beginning. The negotiation became one-sided game. The continuation of US occupation was decorated as benefits given for Japan, thus Japan had to pay for all burdens and costs. In 2020, it's still unchanged. For Hirohito, continuation of US occupation was to maintain his monarchy. That's all.

''John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) told Hirohito US forces will be stationed in Japan and nearby areas according to the bilateral treaty between US and Japan. Then, Hirohito completely agreed with him." (4)

Q5: Hirohito was a militarist or advocate of the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution?

A: Hirohito denied restoring militarism in 1975 because it's prohibited by the constitution.

''Foreign Special Correspondent: Could Japan see a return to militarism as some have claimed?

Hirohito: No. I am not worried about the possibility because it's banned by the constitution.'' (5)

In conclusion,

Conservatism of emperor of Japan and his royal family is something different from Shinzo Abe (1954-) and ''right wings'' of today. Hirohito was an anti-militarist; he opposed enshrinement of war criminals at Yasukuni Shrine; a strong advocate of the Article 9 and the Japanese Constitution; accepted The Potsdam Declaration and results of International Military Tribunal for the Far East (1946-8).

At the end of the book, the author proposed true independence of Japan from the US occupation by suggesting abandonment of U.S.–Japan Status of Forces Agreement (1960), Political question (acte de gouvernement) and secret agreements under the post-war regime.

On the contrary, establishing national defence forces, collective defence alliance with US, and new constitution without those necessary measures won't change US occupation on its land. In other words, pseudo ''pro-independence'' tactics are to further serve the US interests without any fundamental change to the client status. This is so called stealth imperialism.

Thus, it's time to abolish monarchy and seek full withdrawal of US occupational forces from Japan in order to finish ''post-war'' Japan once and for all.


1.Narahiko Toyoshita, Iwanami Shoten, 昭和天皇の戦後日本 〈憲法・安保体制〉にいたる道, July 29, 2015. p.vii.

2.Ibid. p.viii.

3.Ibid. p.ix.

4.Ibid. p.x.

5.Ibid. p.243.


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