This is another article based on a prior article by the wonderful Curt Smothers, “The Role of Japanese Emperor Hirohito in World War II“. I highly suggest you read Curt’s article first.
Despite overwhelming evidence implicating Japanese Emperor Hirohito in the sanctioning of extreme war crimes before and during World War II, neither he nor any other member of the Japanese Royal Family was ever put on trial. Why was this?
It is my contention that the USA spared Hirohito and his family in a “bargain with the devil” type arrangement whereby the former emperor would support the American’s in their attempt to contain the spread of communism, specifically as represented by the Soviet Union.
Was Hirohito really a war criminal?
By any standard with a minimal amount of objectivity, Hirohito was most certainly a war criminal who should have been punished for his crimes. You can verify this yourself with a quick online search.
From Wikipedia: “According to Akira Fujiwara, Hirohito personally ratified the Japanese Army’s proposal to remove the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners …” ” … the works of Yoshiaki Yoshimi and Seiya Matsuno show that the Emperor authorized, by specific orders (rinsanmei), the use of chemical weapons against the Chinese.”
Why then, was the Royal Family granted immunity from all war criminal trials?
The Potsdam Declaration of July, 1945 called for Japan’s “unconditional surrender”, and stated that, “stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals.” However, this declaration had never been signed by the Soviet Union, as the Soviets did not declare war on Japan until the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
Once the war was ended, not only were no members of the royal family ever prosecuted for their crimes, but almost from the beginning the trials were rigged to present the royal family in the best possible light, and to cover up their misdeeds. (See the “Exoneration of the Imperial Family” section in the “International Military Tribunal for the Far East” article on Wikipedia.)
Why? Why were members of the royal family given special treatment?
I believe the answer was to form an alliance with Japan against our former allies, the Soviet Union.
In May of 1945, Nazi Germany was defeated, and events did not bode well at all for Imperial Japan. By June of that year even the Emperor’s inner circle of advisors had to admit that the best possible solution was a negotiated peace. An unconditional surrender was to be avoided at all costs. And the key to this, in the minds of the Japanese leaders, was an alliance with the Soviet Union against the Allies of the West, or, when most likely that ideal circumstance failed to materialize, a peace negotiated by the Soviets that was more favorable to Japan.
The alliance between the USA and the USSR was strictly based on expediency, and once the Nazi threat was removed this alliance quickly began to deteriorate. Relations between the two new super powers were rapidly deteriorating as the year advanced, so the Japanese hopes for a friendly hand from the Soviets wasn’t as far-fetched as it may appear.
Much has been written about the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan, and whether or not these bombings were militarily justified, and/or helped induce Japan to surrender sooner. It seems most likely that the declaration of war on Japan by the Soviet Union was the main factor in Japan’s eventual surrender. Bearing that in mind, it also seems clear that, if not the prime objective, the demonstration of American military might to our new adversaries in the Soviet Union was an important secondary objective.
Whatever their intentions were, the Soviets did in fact declare war on Japan, and quickly occupied northern Japanese territories. And just as quickly, our former bitter enemies, by virtue of being the enemy of our new enemies, became our new friends. Such is the confusing amoral world of global power politics.
So in a slight of hand that would make George Orwell proud, Emperor Hirohito was recast as a powerless puppet at the mercy of aggressive militants, a man who reluctantly supported a war he had no authority over, a man who preferred peace. This is a view that is still promoted today. And the silly rumor was started that General MacArthur was so bedazzled by the Royal Family that through a weakness of character he personally guaranteed their protection, when, more likely, it was his strategic thinking that helped present to the conquering Americans the now captive Hirohito as formerly being an emperor in title only.
Remember: the first casualty of war is Truth.
Originally posted by us on FullofKnowledge.