Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
A major concern of this book is Hirohito's failure to publicly acknowledge his own moral, political, and legal accountability for the long war fought in his name and under his active direction, both as head of state and supreme commander. Hirohito did not abdicate when disaster came, for he believed himself to be a monarch by divine right, and the indispensable essence of the Japanese state. He lacked all consciousness of personal responsibility for what Japan had done abroad and never once admitted guilt for the war of aggression that over thirteen years and eleven months cost so many lives. Believing that his debt was to his imperial ancestors, he resolved to rebuild the empire to whose destruction he himself had contributed so much. American policy and the Cold War helped him to remain on the throne for forty-two more years -- a symbol of national, ethnic continuity but also an object of recurring political debate. Eventually Hirohito became the prime symbol of his people's repression of their wartime past. For as long as they did not pursue his central role in the war, they did not have to question their own; therefore the issue of Hirohito's war responsibility transcends the years of war and defeat. It must be discussed within a context of changing Japanese perceptions of the lost war, and judgments as to how that war came about and about its true nature.
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