Hirohito (1901-1989), the Emperor
. Son of Yoshihito
(posthumously named Emperor Taisho
). Hirohito became regent
married Princess Nagako Kuni
in 1924. Their son and heir to the throne
was born in 1933.
In 1926, Hirohito succeeded his father, and reigned as sovereign,
sending Japan to war in China and the Pacific. In 1945, after attacks on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hirohito had little choice but to announce
Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies. Hirohito was allowed
to retain the throne, but his role was changed from imperial sovereign
to democratic symbol. The constitution of 1946 made him "symbol of the
state and of the unity of the people." Hirohito assumed this position
until his death in 1989.
After World War II, many war victims hoped that Hirohito
would express apologies for Japanese misbehavior during World War II,
but this never occurred. Even after Hirohito's death, it remains debated
how Japan should come to terms with this part of their history.
Hirohito was posthumously named Emperor Showa, after his former reign.
EMPEROR HIROHITO'S BROADCAST TO THE JAPANESE PEOPLE ON
August 14, 1945
New York Times.
TO OUR GOOD AND LOYAL SUBJECTS:
After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual
conditions obtaining in our empire today, we have decided to effect a
settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary
We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the
United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that our empire
accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.
To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well
as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation
which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which we lay
close to the heart.
Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire
to insure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia,
it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of
other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.
But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best
that has been done by everyone-the gallant fighting of the military
and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the
State and the devoted service of our 100,000,000 people-the war
situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the
general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.
Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the
power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of
many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only
result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation,
but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or
to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial
ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the
provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.
We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied
nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the
Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.
The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen
in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those
who met with death otherwise and all their bereaved families, pains
our heart night and day.
The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers and of those who have
lost their home and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude.
The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected
hereafter will be certainly great.
We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects.
However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have
resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to
come by enduring the unavoidable and suffering what is unsufferable.
Having been able to save and maintain the structure of the
Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects,
relying upon your sincerity and integrity.
Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender
needless complications, of any fraternal contention and strife that may
create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence
of the world.
Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to
generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishableness of its
divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and
the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the
construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude,
nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance
the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress
of the world.