Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" - Brothers of the Showa Emperor

A View from a Tokyo Train

Brothers of the Showa Emperor

The Showa Emperor (1901-1989; unpleasantly called Emperor Hirohito) had three younger brothers: Prince Chichibu (1902 - 1953), Prince Takamtsu (1905 – 1987), and Prince Mikasa (1915 -).

Especially, Prince Takamatsu and Prince Mikasa left some interesting legends or remarkable performances in the era of WWII.

The Pearl Harbor Attack, carried out on December 8, 1941 (Japan Time), was officially authorized in conference held in the Tokyo Imperial Palace before the Showa Emperor on December 1, 1941.  But before this decisive day, namely on November 30, Prince Takamatsu met with his elder brother the Emperor in person.  The Prince told the Emperor that the Pearl Harbor attack plan should be abandoned because some leading admirals of the Imperial Navy had revealed to him that there was only little chance for the Empire to win the US since national power of the US far exceeded war capability of the Empire.  This opinion startled the Emperor who had been given assurance by other admirals and generals and politicians that the Empire could well carry out war against the US.  So, the Emperor within the day called the Minister of the Imperial Navy and the Chief of Staff of the Imperial Navy for inquiry.  But the two top admirals of the Imperial Navy said simply that there was no miscalculation in their war plan against the US, showing their confidence in their vision of the coming war.  They thought the US would agree with peace negotiations with the Empire of Japan after one or two year battle on the Pacific Ocean.  The Emperor accepted their comments, so that he would not try to stop proceeding toward the Pearl Harbor Attack.  Accordingly, the Emperor authorized the opening of the war against the US and the UK on the next day.  Nonetheless, on November 30, 1941, that is a week before the Pearl Harbor Attack, there was a chance to avoid the war, since Prince Takamatsu informed the Emperor of a doubt on the war some influential admirals of the Imperial Navy had.  And it is said that one of such anti-war admirals was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who was in charge of leading the Imperial combined fleet and thus planning of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

Prince Mikasa was an officer of the Imperial Army during WWII.  The Prince was sent to China or specifically to Nanjing several years after the fierce battle of Shanghai-Nanjing having been fought in 1937.  In China the youngest brother of the Emperor saw and heard many examples of deterioration of discipline of Imperial troops fighting in China.  Some officer said to the Prince that the best way to train soldiers is to make them kill Chinese prisoners of war with sword bayonets.  The Prince also saw a record film showing Chinese prisoners of war were used for a lethal gas experiment on the human body by a special unit of the Imperial Army.  Prince Mikasa was strongly alerted: Something was wrong in the Imperial Army troops occupying major part of China for years.  When he made a business trip to Tokyo during his assignment in Nanjing, the Prince brought a film to the Emperor to show it which the Chinese Government had made to expose atrocities conducted by the Imperial Army.  So, the Prince, when he finally left Nanjing, addressed soldiers and officers stationed in the city, asking them to correct their behaviors to Chinese people, though this fact was concealed by the Imperial military.  After WWII, he even wrote his experiences in Nanjing in his book.  His testimony is regraded as one of proofs that the Imperial troops corrupted their morals to the extent that they are accused of having carried out a large scale killing of Nanjing citizens, though the true number of victims and its scope are still unknown.

So, the Imperial family of Japan was not so warlike during WWII.  Some of them did not want to support the plan to attack the Pearl Harbor or did want to stop wild behaviors of Imperial troops in China.  However, the Empire of Japan was a country ruled by law and institutions.  The Showa Emperor had to act as a constitutional monarch.  But the Imperial Government was actually under strong influences of the Imperial Army and Navy and samurai-spirited generals and admirals, very unfortunately.

The Emperor on Battleship Musashi

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Mat 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.