Emperor Hirohito, history's greatest unacknowledged war criminal.
The Japanese Emperor Hirohito was one of the greatest mass murderers in history, yet to this day no one really seems to mind that. For the Japanese people Hirohito was no regular despot, for them he was a living god. During his reign the Japanese army invaded China in 1937, South east Asian countries in 1941, and started the war with the US when it attacked Pearl Harbor.
Throughout the war years Hirohito did not use his imperial authority and power to curb Japan's army lust for conquest and war. On the contrary, his enthusiasm and support for the Japanese military effort, grew and grew as the war dragged on. Despite efforts to minimize his role in Japan's afairs and military campaigns before and during WW2, Japanese and American historians have also shown that at the center of the Japanese military system was Emperor Hirohito. He was not the hapless prisoner of militarist generals, (the version promulgated by MacArthur and US propaganda in 1945 in order to save him from a war crimes trial) but an all-powerful warlord, who had helped guide Japan’s genocidal and aggressive war of expansion at every turn. For example, Shiro Ishii, the head of Japan’s biological weapons program and Unit 731, claimed to have met with Hirohito twice and that Hirohito approved and supported of whatever it was that was presented to him about the entire research program. Unit 731 conducted experiments on human beings during the war.
Emperor Hirohito delivering a message to Japanese War Minister Hideki Tojo.
People today tend to forget that Hirohito's Imperial Japan was a despotic murderous regime, intent on expanding, murdering, pillaging and raping anything in its path, all in the name of their divine emperor Hirohito. From 1937 and up until its surrender, Japan and its emperor were responsible for unimaginable reign of horror and terror that was inflicted on China and South Asian countries, and for the deaths of up to 20,000,000 people, the majority of whom were Chinese. Even as late as August 1945, Hirohito refused to acknowledge defeat, even though it was clear that Japan was losing the war, badly. Even after Japan was nuked for the first time, he refused to surrender. Only after the second nuke hit Nagasaki and the news that the Red Army invaded Manchuria did Hirohito use his imperial authority and accepted the allies demands for surrender.
US commander Douglas MacArthur with Hirohito after the surrender of Japan.
The basic justification for not trying Hirohito as a war criminal was that it was politically useful for the US occupation authorities that he not be tried, as to not stir up the defeated Japanese population, who still revered him as a living god.
What is really disturbing to think was that Hirohito maintained his throne as Japan's emperor and lived a luxurious life after WWII, and he was never reviled as Stalin and Hitler were, as if he had done nothing wrong. To put this in context, this would be akin to Hitler remaining the German Fuhrer even after the end of WW2. But the most disturbing aspect of Hirohito never facing justice fo his crimes is that unlike Hitler's Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Russia ,both of which are recognised worldwide as the evil mass murdering regimes that they were, Emperor Hirohito's Imperialist Japan escaped such worldwide historical recognition, and is even viewed as one of the "victim" of WW2 brutalities, because the US dropped nukes on it. Bibliography - Duncan Anderson, "Nuclear Power: The End of the War Against Japan." Robert Harvey, " The Undefeated: Rise, Fall and Rise of Modern Japan."