This week: Hirohito goes to war. What did he know, how much did he direct things himself, and ultimately, how much responsibility does he bear for the greatest cataclysm in the history of East Asia?
Listen to the episode here.
Bix, Herbert. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan.
Wetzler, Peter. Hirohito and War: Imperial Tradition and Military Decision Making in World War II Japan.
Large, Stephen. Emperor Hirohito and Showa Japan: A Political Biography.
The emperor’s monologue on the war, written after the fact to defend him against war crimes charges. Far from a reliable source, it’s still an interesting read.
In 2007, a version of Hirohito’s monologue went up for auction. It sold for just over a quarter million dollars.
Togo Shigenori’s resignation as foreign minister in September, 1942, nearly triggered a political crisis over Guadalcanal that Hirohito helped avert.
Japanese POWs on Guadalcanal. The Guadalcanal campaign was the first major Japanese reversal of the war.
Hirohito’s contributions to the war were occasionally limited to propaganda, such as this image of him reviewing the troops from atop his white horse Shirayuki. The extent to which he was actually involved in planning and execution of the war remains hotly debated.
The January 1, 1945 Imperial Conference. Formal conferences like these ratified government decisions, but they were not hubs for genuine debate. Instead, they ratified previously made decisions.