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The Emperor's broadcast unleashed a torrent of emotions, the two most extreme 52xhe Emperor never mentioned the Potsdam Declaration by name, referring to it only as the "Joint Declaration" kyodo sengen. My reading of the original comes from the reprint published in the Asahi Shimbun, August 15, Italics mine. In the early morning hours of August 15th, before the speech was broadcast to the nation, War Minister A n a m i Korechika, unable to either suffer or endure the ignominy of defeat, took his own life by the ritual performance of seppuku.

The Emperor cast the deciding vote in favour of acceptance, an action that contributed to his postwar reincarnation as a man of peace. For further discussion on the Emperor's own reconstruction, see Chapter Six. See, for example, Mainichi Shimbun, August , Even before the speech was aired, these radicals plotted to assassinate the Emperor's "evil advisers" and to prevent the rescript from being broadcast. The plot was foiled when military leaders refused to go along but not before Mori Takeshi, commander of the First Imperial Guard Division, was murdered by the conspirators. General Anami was sympathetic to the conspirators but even he refused to go against the Emperor's wishes.

The reactions of the Japanese people also included acts of atonement through death. According to the Mainichi Shimbun, thirty-five civilians killed themselves in the two weeks following the Emperor's speech, mostly young men. The newspaper stated that these men, like their military counterparts, felt they had not done enough and so wanted to apologize to the Emperor with their lives. For the majority, shock and remorse were far more common responses. The most common responses were remorse kokai , sorrow hitan , and regret zannen , followed by surprise odoroki , shock shogeki , confusion konwaku , and relief kyusai.

Having grasped, in translation, the significance of the broadcast, the workers simply dropped what they were doing and silently left the building. Shinsei magazine editor, Murofuchi Takenobu, also found himself having to explain the meaning of the message to his younger friends and colleagues, many of whom just sat immobile, staring at the walls.

He knew it was 61 The survey results are reproduced in Yoshimi, Kusa no ne no fashizumu, pp. Confused and uncertain over what had happened, Yoshioka decided it was best to cry along with them. Elation at being alive and despair over Japan's future mingled inside him, leading to a prolonged sense of spiritlessness or apathy mukiryoku. Perhaps they were both. Like the Emperor, Shidehara referred only to the war's end senso shiiketsu so it is possible that he shed tears of joy for this and tears of sorrow for the defeat he could not bring himself to mention.

Matsumoto was a student in Shiga, but like many teenagers was recruited into factory work at the end of the war. At the time of Hirohito's broadcast, he was working at Sumitomo Metals in Shiga. There were some for whom despair was displayed as anger, sometimes directed toward the Emperor himself. After listening to Hirohito's speech one old man cried out bitterly: "This is stupid. If the war could be stopped by the emperor simply raising his hands and surrendering, why didn't he end the war sooner for us?

Your Majesty, because of this my sons have all died in vain, a dog's death.


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Many of those people did not give voice to their thoughts as he did, but they carried such sentiments in their hearts nonetheless. Naturally, public accounts of that day dwelt not on anger but on the "bitter tears" ketsurui being shed in remorse for defeat. Drawing on the Emperor's invocation of the "one hundred million people" ichioku shiisho , an Asahi Shimbun editorial the following day led with the headline, "The Autumn of One Hundred Million Tears.

One man sobbingly proclaimed, "I was bad. I didn't really exert myself to the utmost. I am to blame. The one hundred million ichioku itself was a legacy of wartime propaganda designed to inculcate a sense of unity among the Japanese people, despite the fact that the population of Japan was only about seventy million at the time.

Japan Under Taisho Tenno: 1912-1926

In the heady days following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December the Tojo government introduced the phrase, "one hundred million hearts beating as one" ichioku isshin , as a demonstration of the glorious Japanese spirit, and designed to spur the people on to ever greater feats of sacrifice for the nation. As the war turned badly for Japan a new phrase was proposed in the Diet by the army and navy in late ichioku tokko, the one hundred million as a suicide squad.

With slogans such as this, the Japanese government made it clear that there would be no civilians in the Pacific War, just as Douhet had predicted. In those last, desperate days as the Japanese military were arming the people with little more than bamboo spears in anticipation of an American invasion, yet another slogan was born from the government's propaganda machine: ichioku gyokusai one hundred million as a shattered jewel. The latter term was never used during the war, lacking as it did any patriotic reference to honour or glory. In his recollections of the war years, Kinjo Shigeaki painfully remembered how as a teenager in Okinawa he was given two hand grenades by an army sergeant who instructed 70Dower, War Without Mercy, pp.

Manual Japan Under Taisho Tenno: (Routledge Library Editions: Japan)

For the media's promotion of this idea see, for example, Asahi Shimbun, December 28, For a discussion of the Japanese military's attempt to prepare for the invasions see Havens, Valley of Darkness, pp. Frank Baldwin , Pantheon Books, An even worse fate awaited. He and his older brother, caught up in the insanity of family members killing each other during the Battle of Okinawa, strangled their mother, younger brother, and younger sister out of fear of them being captured by the enemy.

For Kinjo, August 15th reinforced the nightmare of that day. The more I recovered my normal mind," he said, "the more strongly the abnormal came back to me. There was neither honour in the charred ruins of Japan's cities nor glory in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

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The Emperor's speech, when it finally came, was not so much a surprise - the physical destruction of Japan had seen to that - as it was a shock to find that all the effort and all the sacrifice had been wasted. It certainly evoked no surprise for journalist Okada Satoshi who was stuck thousands of miles away on Irian Jaya with the Japanese army.

Having heard of the war's progress on his friend's shortwave radio and having been deluged with pamphlets dropped from 73Kinj6 Shigeaki, "Now they call it 'Group Suicide'," in Cook, et. On the day he finally did hear the Emperor's speech August 17th , read to him and his comrades by their commander, Okada called it "the day of despondency" kyodatsu jotai no hi. Watching his comrades sobbing at the news, he reflected on what it was everyone had been fighting for.

However, unlike the Meiji Restoration, Japan's first turning point, war, defeat, and occupation had a direct and palpable impact on the entire nation which, as we have seen, expressed itself as shock and despair. This is a common image of a world at war: destruction, death, privation and, ultimately, defeat. For the victors, of course, August 15th was a day of jubilation, the images of which are familiar to all of us who have viewed that day vicariously through the lens of peace. Yet, for many of the defeated as well, August 15th was also a day of liberation.

Even before MacArthur swept into Japan like a latter-day divine wind, many Japanese saw their nation's defeat as the symbol of a new beginning. The image of August 15th as the day of one hundred million bitter tears ichioku ketsurui is indeed a powerful one and it has endured throughout the postwar years in various forms. It is also an exaggeration of the same magnitude as saying that one hundred million or even seventy million hearts beat as one during the war.

In truth, tears of the bitter variety were not the only ones being shed; tears of joy and of relief also fell like rain on that August afternoon. And it is the existence of both the bitter and the joyful tears that demonstrates the dynamic interplay between abject despondency kyodatsu on the one hand and the sense of new beginning or new life shinsei on the other. In light of the many public displays of remorse reported in the press, some Japanese were cautious about how to express their pleasure.

Suto Ryosaku 61 Part One: Kyodatsu and Shinsei captured the feelings of many Japanese when she recorded in her diary that "[although most people think that defeat is extremely unfortunate, in their hearts they generally seem relieved.


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It just didn't seem proper to show it at the time. Nor was his response to Japan's surrender as equivocal as that of his former boss in the Foreign Ministry, Baron Shidehara. After hearing the Emperor's speech, Yoshida celebrated at the home of his friend Konoe Fuminaro, drinking so much whiskey that he passed out on the train home and missed his stop.

He went on to become the most powerful political figure in the early postwar years, forming five different cabinets between and Konoe's joy, on the other hand, was short-lived. In a rather bizarre ending to the story, Yoshida rented Konoe's former house in , choosing to sleep in the same room in which his old friend had committed suicide. Saito Mutsuo captured poignantly the sense of ending and beginning, of kyodatsu and shinsei, in his recollections of August 15th and its immediate aftermath: I felt full of regret and bitterness, but at the same time I also thought: 'Perhaps I am going to survive.

Perhaps this thing they call peace is going to come Every window was lit up, and along every street stretched great lines of light. I just stood and stared, as if I was seeing it for the first time in my life. I had never realized that electric lights could be so beautiful.

Edition, , p. The New Year's editorial in the Hokkoku Shimbun, for example, characterized as a cursed and a blessed year, while journalist Matsumura Tamotsu pronounced that August 15, was both Japan saddest and happiest day. Such sentiments were a clear recognition that, whatever else defeat and occupation might mean, Japan had finally emerged from the dark valley into the light of a new age shin jidai. This sense of transformation was also manifest in the frequent calls for the Emperor to proclaim a new era beginning on August 15th.

One man even argued that the entire sweep of Japan's history should be rewritten with defeat and the Emperor's speech as the starting point of a new era shin jidai no shuppatsuten. For a number of years following the war, calls for a new era would be resurrected in the press, particularly on the yearly anniversaries of Japan's defeat.

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