Sunday, May 10, 2015

"for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Another Factor of the Pearl Harbor Attack

The Tokyo Tower

Another Factor of the Pearl Harbor Attack

There is an interesting theory about the nature of the Empire of Japan that fought WWII to collapse after the world war.

The monarch of the Empire between 1926 and 1945 was of course the emperor who today called the Emperor of Showa (Emperor Hirohito so rudely in English) as the era in which he presided is called Showa in Japan  (he was also the emperor further between 1945 and 1989 as the symbol of the Japanese people if not the Head of State).  According to the Constitution of the Empire of Japan that was enacted in 1890, the emperor was holy and inviolable.

The imperial government and the imperial assembly functioned like those in European nations.  However the emperor of Japan had real power constitutionally to govern the Empire.  Ministers and the Cabinet were required to support the Emperor.  The Imperial navy and army were directly subject to the emperor.

Despite this constitutional system, real politics, administration, and control of the military were planned and carried out without substantial prior consultation with the emperor by the elite members of the Empire, who were mostly from the ex-samurai class or graduates of imperial universities.  Especially, generals and high-ranking officers of the Imperial military sometimes acted as they wanted while imposing and issuing their orders as if they had been the will of the emperor.

This state of the Imperial Government became so grave when the Empire entered a war against China in 1930s and then joined WWII in 1941.  Communications between the Emperor of Showa and the leading politicians and generals of the Empire were very poor.  There was no custom that the Emperor candidly discussed political or military matters with leading politicians and generals.

Their meetings were always too formal.  Even the prime minister of the Empire did not discuss matters with the Emperor as between two persons intellectually equal at least.  The Emperor was a kind of a god of shintoism, so that any honest, rough, or strong exchanges of words were not allowed for politicians.  Ministers and generals just reported situations, and the Emperor rather euphemistically asked some questions and vaguely expressed his will or hope.  This way of communications at the highest level of the Empire was not changed till the Empire of Japan collapsed when it lost the Pacific War against the US in 1945.

From the beginning, or after the Meiji Restoration of the Imperial authority that had put an end to the samurai era in 1868, it was not expected that the emperor was really involved in real politics and military matters, though the Empire needed the emperor as the highest authority of the Imperial Government.  It was not expected that the Emperor would consult and discuss with politicians and generals.  The Emperor was presented plans or decisions to that had been already made by the Cabinet or the prime minister to authorize them.  The Emperor was not effectively in a process of planning and decision making, though formally he had power and function to plan and make decisions.  He just had to say, "I allow you to do so," even in the supreme conference of the Imperial Government that was placed above the Cabinet, though the Emperor was not a puppet of any body or not manipulated by any body.

(Nonetheless, there were at least two occasions where the Emperor spontaneously expressed his intention in such conferences: one to decide the surrender to the US in August 1945 and another to suppress a coup-attempt by extreme military officers in 1936, which is called the February 26 Incident.)

Therefore, in education of Imperial princes in the Empire, ability to discuss matters and express their opinions was not attached great importance to at all.   Even ability to talk with people was not held in great account at all.  Only limited persons in the Imperial court exchanged words with the Emperor in daily life.  The Emperor of Showa lacked ability and skills to communicate with ordinary people and express his thoughts frankly, plainly, and clearly or in a democratic manner to his aids and politicians.  There were no such experiences as free conversations with friends for the Emperor of Showa since his boyhood.  Everyone paid great respect and spoke so respectfully to the Emperor in any conversations.  No candid discussions with politicians were possible even during WWII.

That is why when the Japanese people for the first time heard real voices of the Emperor of Showa in his radio speech to the nation informing them of his decision of the surrender to the US military in August 1945, the people felt something strange in the Emperor's way of speaking.  His intonation and accents were strange.  The Emperor's speech sounded like a kind of reciting a sutra of shinto.

After the the Constitution of the Empire of Japan was abolished and the new Pacifist and democratic Constitution was enacted in 1947, the style of speech of the Emperor of Showa changed.   Classic and literary words and expressions came to be replaced with plain ones.  The Emperor even gave news conferences, which had been unthinkable under the the Constitution of the Empire of Japan or during and before WWII.

The point at issue is that insufficient or limited ability of speech and self-expression of the Emperor of Showa was probably one of factors of the tragedy of the Empire of Japan in WWII.
However, a majority of Japanese people even today do not like to discuss this issue in this way.  They don't want to blame the Emperor of Showa, though all those tragic wars of the Empire of Japan till 1945 were made under the name of the Emperor of Showa.

Most of Japanese people would understand why the Emperor of Showa lacked some crucial communication ability; it was due to the the nature of the Imperial court in Japan linked with the Japanese religion shinto.  To criticize the Emperor of Showa means to criticize shinto that is a major part of Japanese spiritualism and the core of social structure and establishment of the nation.   In this context the emperor is still a kind of holy for many of the Japanese people.

But, it is true that insufficient faculty of speech of the Emperor of Showa was one of factors of the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941.  If he had full ability in communications, he could have exchanged opinions with some influential anti-militarism politicians and might have stopped the war against the US or prevented the Pearl Harbor Attack.  It was so naturally assumed since the Emperor of Showa's intellectual ability was highly appraised as he was also an excellent biologist and a poet who created about 900 pieces of Japanese-style poetry called waka (so far as made public).

Anyway after WWII and during the US occupation of Japan between 1945 and 1952, the Emperor Showa met in person with General MacArthur, the supreme commander of the US military stationed in Japan till 1951, 11 times.  General MacArthur showed no intention to prosecute the Emperor of Showa as a war criminal.  The Japanese people have also had no intention to blame the Emperor of Showa for the defeat of the Empire to date.

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Mat 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.