Cover image for Hirohito and war : imperial tradition and military decision making in prewar Japan
Hirohito and war : imperial tradition and military decision making in prewar Japan
Wetzler, Peter Michael, 1943-
Publication Information:
Honolulu : University of Hawai'i Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xi, 294 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1350 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D767.2 .W67 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The debate over Emperor Hirohito's accountability for government decisions and military operations up to the end of the World War II began before the end of the war and has continued even after his death. This book documents this controversy while providing insights into the Showa emperor's role in military planning in imperial Japan. It argues that Hirohito both knew of and participated in such planning and offers evidence that he was informed well in advance of the planned attack on Pearl Harbor.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Most authors who have written on the question of Hirohito's war responsibility have taken exceptionally narrow, doctrinaire positions at the extremes of the debate, either pro or con; Wetzler openly acknowledges the complexity of the problem. For example, he argues cogently that Hirohito's motives included a profound concern for the fate of the Japanese imperial house, a point that has been missed by other authors. Equally valuable is his exhaustive examination of the evidence--not just the voluminous secondary literature in both English and Japanese, but especially the substantial body of primary material in Japanese, most of which has been previously overlooked or ignored. His reliance on these materials gives his arguments an authority difficult to deny. Readers may not be happy with Wetzler's conclusions, but they will not be able to impugn their foundations. In the end, he concludes that Hirohito participated fully in the decision-making processes that led to key events, from the Manchurian Incident, through the attack on Pearl Harbor, to the decision to surrender. He argues that like members of other decision-making bodies, Hirohito was able to prevail on some occasions but not on others, and that he shares responsibility for the decisions but should not be singled out for blame. The book's greatest virtue is its balanced approach to a topic that has been and will continue to be hotly debated. All levels. C. L. Yates Earlham College

Table of Contents

About the Authorp. v
Prefacep. ix
1 Introductionp. 1
2 Imperial Navy Planning and the Emperorp. 12
3 Pearl Harbor and Decision Makingp. 33
4 T and the Emperor: Mutual Political Convictionsp. 61
5 Scientism, History, and Confucianism: an Emperor's Educationp. 82
6 Ancient Institutions and Foreign Cultures: New Interpretations for Modern Timesp. 114
7 Hirohito's First Adviser: Count Makino Nobuakip. 139
8 Conclusionp. 179
Appendixesp. 203
Notesp. 223
Bibliographyp. 269
Indexp. 281