Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (Anglais) Broché – 4 septembre 2001
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Présentation de l'éditeur
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
In this groundbreaking biography of the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Herbert P. Bix offers the first complete, unvarnished look at the enigmatic leader whose sixty-three-year reign ushered Japan into the modern world. Never before has the full life of this controversial figure been revealed with such clarity and vividness. Bix shows what it was like to be trained from birth for a lone position at the apex of the nation's political hierarchy and as a revered symbol of divine status. Influenced by an unusual combination of the Japanese imperial tradition and a modern scientific worldview, the young emperor gradually evolves into his preeminent role, aligning himself with the growing ultranationalist movement, perpetuating a cult of religious emperor worship, resisting attempts to curb his power, and all the while burnishing his image as a reluctant, passive monarch. Here we see Hirohito as he truly was: a man of strong will and real authority.
Supported by a vast array of previously untapped primary documents, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan is perhaps most illuminating in lifting the veil on the mythology surrounding the emperor's impact on the world stage. Focusing closely on Hirohito's interactions with his advisers and successive Japanese governments, Bix sheds new light on the causes of the China War in 1937 and the start of the Asia-Pacific War in 1941. And while conventional wisdom has had it that the nation's increasing foreign aggression was driven and maintained not by the emperor but by an elite group of Japanese militarists, the reality, as witnessed here, is quite different. Bix documents in detail the strong, decisive role Hirohito played in wartime operations, from the takeover of Manchuria in 1931 through the attack on Pearl Harbor and ultimately the fateful decision in 1945 to accede to an unconditional surrender. In fact, the emperor stubbornly prolonged the war effort and then used the horrifying bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, together with the Soviet entrance into the war, as his exit strategy from a no-win situation. From the moment of capitulation, we see how American and Japanese leaders moved to justify the retention of Hirohito as emperor by whitewashing his wartime role and reshaping the historical consciousness of the Japanese people. The key to this strategy was Hirohito's alliance with General MacArthur, who helped him maintain his stature and shed his militaristic image, while MacArthur used the emperor as a figurehead to assist him in converting Japan into a peaceful nation. Their partnership ensured that the emperor's image would loom large over the postwar years and later decades, as Japan began to make its way in the modern age and struggled -- as it still does -- to come to terms with its past.
Until the very end of a career that embodied the conflicting aims of Japan's development as a nation, Hirohito remained preoccupied with politics and with his place in history. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan provides the definitive account of his rich life and legacy. Meticulously researched and utterly engaging, this book is proof that the history of twentieth-century Japan cannot be understood apart from the life of its most remarkable and enduring leader.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
I had read a lot about our "Naval War in the Pacific" and Guam still had many war scars, and at least one Japanese holdout in the "boonies".
I had also read that allowing Hirohito to remain emperor in Japan was tandamount to allowing Hitler to remain chancellor in Germany after the war.
But this is the first book I've read written which describes the Japanese view of the war. Hirohito was a fascist dictator just like Hitler, Stalin or Mussolini, but due to the "pragmatic" views of MacArthur and the other allies, he was allowed to spread the notion he had always been a pacifist, and that he, like the Japanese people at large, were only passive victims of the "militarists".
Hirohito is now long dead, but the issue of "war guilt" is still very much alive. We live in rapidly changing times, and this book is an excellent preparation for seeing what will happen next.
Hirohito was not what he seemed. Emperor had deep knowledge on diplomatic and military matters. He asked probing questions to his chiefs of staff and war minister and carefully examined policies, strategies before issuing orders to wage aggressive war. Sometimes he intervened to make changes in ongoing operations. And at times he avoided restraining army even when it acted without his authorization. He accepted the situation as a fait accompli. Emperor was not opposed to army expanding his empire and allowed brief usurpation of authority so long as operation remained successful.
Hirohito was an imperialist and an extreme nationalist. He agreed to expanding war in China initiated by Konoye government. Author has argued that Hirohito approved Japanese air bombardment of defenseless Chinese cities. Author has accused the emperor being complicit to some of the worst atrocities committed by the army. In the Wuhan offensive form August to late October 1938 IHQ authorized the use of chemical weapons on 375 separate occasions. For this Hirohito bore direct responsibility.
Sinking of American gunboat Panay in the Yangtze River by Japanese bombers was an extremely embarrassing incident for Tokyo. Foreign Minister Hirota issued profound apology to ambassador Grew. However Hirohito did nothing. In author’s opinion emperor could have assuaged feelings of American people by sending Roosevelt telegrams expressing his profound regret.
Again Hirohito’s hand is seen when Japan began hostilities against Anglo Saxon powers. Here it should be said that Tokyo’s decision to establish ‘new order’ in Asia ran counter to entrenched western interests. Author blames Hirohito for prolonging the agonies of his people as well as Asia and Pacific by continuing the war even when it became clear that Japan had lost. In his blind obsession to preserve monarchy he let go several opportunities to end hostilities. What finally forced Hirohito was the prospect of an internal revolt against his rule by his subjects who had become despondent, war weary.
Most striking thing about emperor’s life he survived Japan’s defeat, American occupation, cold war. He managed to retain throne even while under pressure from royal household to abdicate. Further he escaped indictment as a war criminal at Tokyo war crime tribunal by deflecting all blame on Tojo. What made this possible was unique concatenation of circumstances. With Japan now under American occupation his powers were clipped. However Hirohito refused to reconcile to the status of an impotent monarch and made a futile attempt to revive his authority.
In short, this book is shocking indictment of Hirohito exposing him as most disingenuous monarch to occupy the Japanese throne. Author has just stopped short calling him a rascal. Author has explained difficulties he experienced in reconstructing emperor’s life and cautions readers by saying there are still many unknown dark corners. Hirohito is said to have kept a personal diary where he recorded his inner most thoughts. This is not available for researchers. Also not obtainable is emperor’s extensive correspondence with other members of the royal family. Author hopes that some future point in time these would be made available for researchers. Then it would become possible to obtain a comprehensive picture on Hirohito.
This work ably supplements David Bergamini’s book Imperial Conspiracy. Bergamini also espoused similar views though he wrote the book based personal experiences and did not have the privilege doing archival research. On account of it I do not consider the present work as breaking any new ground.