Why was Japan Allowed to Keep its Emperor After World War 2? (Short Animated Documentary)

Emperor Hirohito of Japan was a rare case of an axis leaders who didn’t get Nuremburged or Tokyo’d and managed to keep his position (and life). But why? Why was Hirohito not punished and Japan allowed to keep its emperor?


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  1. Here’s the thing: as controversial as keeping Hirohito on the throne was, executing him what have essentially turned Japan into Afghanistan. Sooooo much guerrilla warfare.

  2. Nevermind the geopolitical power plays in motion at the time, the US had untold and incomparable destructive capabilities which were demonstrated on the Japanese themselves in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945. That alone should have been enough to cement the 'master' of the region. The yanks could have forced a disgraced Hirohito and his generals into war tribunals and replaced him with his heir to the throne Akihito. Tens of thousands of Yanks, Brits, Australians and New Zealander soldiers never got any justice for the way they were treated and murdered by the imperial Japanese

  3. This is propaganda.

    The Emperor was not put on trail because the investigation by General Bonner Fellers found that the Emperor was not in charge, the Japanese military was and even disobeyed the Emperor and tried to overthrow him, twice. The second time was the Kyujo Incident, a final attempt to keep the war going even after the Emperor bypassed the military and publicly called for surrender.

    Japan was not like other nations, China was closest when it had an emperor. They were figureheads. In charge in the public eye, but not in the eyes of the military which is why the Imperial General Headquarters was its own entity, apart from the civilian government. Its a tradition that goes back a very long time…the Tokugawa Shogunate controlled Japan for over 300 years, the Shogun controlled the nations army, the Emperor its people. When it fell, it was replaced by the Imperial Army.

  4. I have no argument with this explanation of “why” Emperor Hirohito was not deposed at the end of WWII but I was born during WWII and, since then, I’ve studied enough history to be of the opinion that to represent him as “thinking the bombing of Pearl Harbor was just a swell idea” is a gross oversimplification.

    At the point that Emperor Hirohito was approached with the Pearl Harbor plan, Japan was in dire straits. The difficulty had begun by the adoption of a plan similar to that of Hitler, namely, that the country needed additional Lebensraum (living space). In the case of the Japanese Empire, the first step was to begin taking needed resources from wherever those resources were located in eastern Asia or the western Pacific. The United States had responded by announcing that if Japan didn’t relinquish its “expansionist” policy, the United States navy would begin intercepting any ships carrying such resources to Japan. Japan failed to relinquish its policy so “interception” was followed by interdiction – the sinking of ships that failed to stop on command. Enough ships had been deterred and enough more had been sunk that hunger on the Japanese home islands had begun to make the situation desperate.

    One suggestion was to try to cripple the United States fleet in the Pacific enough to make it difficult or impossible for the U.S. to effectively blockade the Japanese home islands. The Japanese had more ships and other military hardware than the United States did at that time and the Japanese had reason to believe that the imbalance of naval power in the Pacific, combined with the vast distances between the United States and Japan were enough to prevent the United States from winning a war against Japan.

    The alternative to the Pearl Harbor plan was to try to figure out how to feed Japan’s population without bringing in supplies from other countries. If Japan were to immediately cease investing in military buildup, such supplies could be bought instead of being acquired by military force. That, however, was seen as only a temporary solution to the problem.

    When Emperor Hirohito was told about the Pearl Harbor plan, his response was to encourage debate about the advantages and the disadvantages of the plan. The hawkish Japanese “war lords” took this as a sign that the emperor would not vigorously oppose the Pearl Harbor plan so they doubled their efforts to get him to agree with it.

    I don’t think he ever did actually agree to the plan. I think he may have been afraid that the military planners were so dead-set on it that they might attempt a coup if he flatly prohibited it. I think what he did was to simply NOT prohibit it – which the top military leadership took as tacit permission to go ahead with the plan.

  5. If he was a German kaiser and did what he did in the ww2, he'd have been removed right after the war. Westerners tend to be way more tolerant with Japanese war crimes than German ones. Nearly 80 years after the war ended, German soldiers are still depicted as monsters in the US media though vast majority of them were not even Nazis. On the contrary, Japanese soldiers are depicted as honorable, disciplined, loyal to their sky emperor samurais in American films.

  6. Hirohito no longer had a military to command so its not like Japan could be a real threat to the USA again, so in that regard not having a military made keeping Hirohito in power a lot easier to swallow.

  7. What is extremely unfortunate and what most people do not know, is that Japan surrendered to the allies FOUR TIMES prior to their surrender in September after the nukes were dropped. Further, the terms Japan accepted, or rather the allies accepted were the exact same terms they agreed to those prior four times, the first time being in May 1945. The Japanese agreed to all conditions except the removal of the emperor. After the Potsdam Declaration Japan again accepted the surrender terms with the exception of the emperor's removal. This prompted the dropping of the two nukes and even after that Japan still would not budge on the emperor issue. So just think how many allied lives, and Japanese lives which would have been saved had we accepted their surrender in May. We, (the US) intentionally prolonged the war in the Pacific to scare the Soviets by dropping the two nukes which got us nothing. Just a waste. Harry Truman was a moron.

  8. Japan is better for it now. Hirohito only had his country's best interests at heart. The pacific theatre has to be the most complex and intriguing part of the second World War.

  9. and him staying along with a lot of members of the royal family is pretty much why japanese write their own version of history with their own reasons instead of the actual factual reasons

  10. Are you kidding? Removing govt officials is one thing. Trying to remove the living God from the world's oldest dynasty, in a country known for honor suicide attacks… you would have to wipe out the entire population to hold the country.

  11. I’ve wanted to write a series of novels where Japan remained occupied by America and what ramifications that would have on current society. Now that I know the basis as to why Japan became the way it is now I can mess with history a bit and change decisions to match this flow. It’s a setup for the acceleration of Westernization of the East in terms of culture. Of course lots of conflict between Americans assigned to live in Japan and the Japanese who refuted change. I think it would be interesting to write a change in history like this. Any suggestions or comments are welcomed.

  12. Same reason why the US didn't nuke the Imperial Palace as it would either galvanize the rest of Japan or create chaos as there would be no one to offer surrender… Sucks for the civilians that were killed in the two bombs, who knows if more would have died if Hirohito was removed; probably I guess.

  13. Another point to make here, Hirohito was a constitutional monarch, the 1868 Meiji restoration didn't exactly restore the Emperor to full power so its debatable how much power and control he actually had, but it likely wasn't so much.

  14. Also let's not forget that the emperor had no real power.the power was controled by the military much like in the old days where the shoguns ruled and the emperor only served as a figure head

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