How Truly WWII Ended for Japan
In July 1945, the Potsdam Declaration was issued by the US and its allied forces to request the Empire of Japan to surrender. But the key to acceptance of the Declaration by the Empire was whther the Emperor could keep substantially his safety and status after the demanded surrender even if it looked unconditional surrender nominally.
After enumerating items to apply to Japan after the surrender, for example, "we do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners," the Declaration used the term "unconditional surrender": "We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction."
The Imperial Government eventually accepted this demand after the Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks and the Soviet forces invasion of Manchuria in August 1945, but the situation in Tokyo was not so simple.
First of all, die-hard and fanatic military officers still occupied leading positions in the Imperial Headquarters that actually controlled all the Imperial Army and Navy forces. Though the Empire had lost battles in the Philippines, Iwojima, and Okinawa (inherent part of Japan) against the US military forces, especially Army militaristic officers wanted to continue the war even on the mainland Japan.
Those officers, especially those leading the Department of Imperial Army General Staff, even planned to move the Emperor deep into mountains in Honsyu Island for preparation of the final and desperate battle against coming US troops expected to land around Tokyo in a few months. However, the Emperor had no intention to leave the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, though the main palace building had been already burnt down by a US air raid in May 1945.
The Imperial House of Japan had not traditions of warriors for more than 1000 years, though their ancestors had been also warriors in ancient days. Accordingly, Showa Emperor was far more a court noble than a military man or a samurai. He had no intention to fight and die like those desperate officers. The Emperor reportedly began to seriously thin about how to put an end in the war since the destruction of the main imperial palace building.
But how could the Emperor persuade those radically militaristic military officers to accept his will? There was a fear that those officers driven to the desperate corner might carry out a coup to replace Showa Emperor with one of his brothers or any imperial family member.
And, how could the Emperor secure his status and the status of the Imperial Family when the Empire unconditionally surrendered?
These two difficult issued made the war continue even after the the Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks and the Soviet forces invasion of Manchuria.
Put simply, in the last days of the Empire of Japan in August 1945, there was the Emperor, who now wanted to stop the war, in the center of Tokyo surrounded by die-hard, bellicose, and dangerous samurai-type Imperial Army officers who held leading positions in the Department of Imperial Army General Staff and were determined to fight and die in the mainland of Japan.
But, if the Emperor had been able to get secret information that the US Government had no intention to arrest and persecute the Emperor or abolish the Imperial House of Japan after the expected surrender of the Empire, the Emperor himself could have strongly persuaded those Army officers, including the Imperial Army Minister, to accept the Potsdam Declaration and surrender to the US military forces. And, Showa Emperor could do it actually.
And, we may say it is how truly WWII ended for Japan.
Nonetheless, some experts in the modern history of Japan say that the Emperor could not have obtained such information as he was just staying in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo without special staff to work diplomatically and secretly and means of communications to foreign leaders. At least, Showa Emperor, though nominally the supreme commander of the Imperial military forces, did not have such staff and means he could freely use without interference of the Imperial military, they argue. However, it is now getting common understanding among experts and scholars concerned that the Emperor had some aids and means to get such information secretly.
As the acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration by the Imperial Government was announced internationally through the Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland on August 14 (domestically on August 15), it is not difficult to think that the main stage of the secret diplomatic activities that eventually gave assurance of fulfilling his request to the Emperor was Switzerland. Actually, the Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland and other Imperial officers and officials stationed in Switzerland, etc. played key parts in secret communications with American counterparts. And one of those Americans was Allen Dulles who later became the Director of CIA.
In addition, Joseph Clark Grew, the former US Ambassador to the Empire of Japan, contributed to the US policy not to make the Emperor account for war responsibility. There were some American bureaucrats who also helped Tokyo understand the American stance on this issue about the Imperial House through radio broadcasting from Washington DC. Furthermore, Henry Lewis Stimson, the Secretary of War, persuaded some hard-liner US officials and eventually President Truman to allow Japan to maintain its Imperial system. He also reportedly prevented a US atomic bomb attack on Kyoto, since Kyoto was a historically culture center of Japan.
As conclusion, though it is true that Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings by the US military contributed to the end of war with the Empire of Japan, the Emperor needed the information that would assure securement of his safety and status and the Imperial system in Japan. With this conviction, he could overwhelm the desperate militaristic officers determined to fight US troops till their death with support from loyal politicians and generals.
That looks why Showa Emperor respected profoundly American friends after WWII. This tradition can be still seen in the present Emperor and Imperial House. For them, American friends seem to be more important than US nuclear weapons to defend Japan and their status, good or bad.
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Mat 9:1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
Mat 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.