Behr, Edward.


Hamish Hamilton, 1st ed., 1989. Ix + 486 pp., several photo-plates. D.j., 24 x 16cm. Binding glue ‘lifted’ behind hinges but they are not split ; front cover leaning & tape traces to f.e.p.’s o/w V.G. When the Second World War ended, America, Australia, New Zealand, China, the USSR and British public opinion called for the trial of the Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal. Since then an immensely skilled international campaign has succeeded in projecting a completely different image: that of a different sovereign whose sole interests were scientific and who was, at all times, the prisoner of his all-powerful military machine and of unscrupulous war-bent politicians and advisers. However, this objective book draws on little-known testimony from diaries of Japanese contemporaries, pre-war and wartime archives, to show that, contrary to the myth built around him, Hirohito was indeed aware of Pearl Harbour before it happened, he must have known about Japan’s atrocities in China in the thirties and of Japan’s own "unit 731", the bacterial warfare unit established in Manchuria in 1933 which experimented on thousands of prisoners-of-war. The author shows how Hirohito shrewdly dissociated himself from the "war party" within Japan immediately after its surrender, and how he sacrificed some of his own subordinates to preserve his throne and his friendly relationship with MacArthur. The story of the last emperor of Japan is perhaps the most successful public relations operation of all time, turning one of the world’s most hated men into a benevolent patriarch but this book shatters the myth and will shock many.

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