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Hirohito said rearmament, constitutional revision necessary

The records were recently discovered and made public.


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Updated: August 21, 2019

Emperor Showa mentioned the necessity of rearmament and constitutional revision, according to newly disclosed documents detailing exchanges between the emperor and Michiji Tajima, the first grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency in the postwar period.

The documents, which were released on Monday, also showed that the emperor intended to express his remorse over World War II at a ceremony to celebrate Japan’s recovery of independence held in May 1952.

The documents consist of a total of 18 of Tajima’s datebooks and notebooks from February 1949 to December 1953. Public broadcaster NHK disclosed part of the records on Monday, which were provided by Tajima’s family.

According to the documents, Emperor Showa stuck to the idea of including the word “remorse” in his speech at the ceremony.

In January 1952, he said, “I absolutely believe the word ‘remorse’ must be included.” Although a draft speech expressing his regret over the war was created, the word “remorse” was later deleted from the draft due to opposition from then Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who said that there was a risk the emperor might be accused of being responsible for starting the war.

The fact that the expression of apology was removed from the draft had already been revealed in a book by non-fiction writer Kyoko Kato, who studied Tajima’s diaries. However, this is said to be the first time for Emperor Showa’s actual words to be revealed.

The records also show that, against the backdrop of the Cold War, Emperor Showa mentioned the necessity of rearmament and constitutional revision in February 1952, saying, “Because I thought various other issues would be discussed, taking advantage of constitutional revision, I have been negative about the issue. But now, I came to consider that the constitutional provision concerning armament only should be amended openly and squarely without touching upon revisions of other provisions.”

At the same time, the emperor strongly rejected a revival of the prewar military, saying, “I absolutely don’t want to see a resurgence of the former military clique system as a result of rearmament.”

Tajima was born in 1885 and was appointed to the post of grand steward of the Imperial Household Office (now the Imperial Household Agency) in 1948 after serving as managing director of Aichi Bank, as a member of the House of Peers and in other positions. From 1949, when the office was reorganized into the Imperial Household Agency, he served as the first grand steward of the agency until 1953. After resigning from the agency, he served as chairman of Sony Corp. He died in 1968 at age 83.



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About the Author: The Japan News is published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the largest circulation in the world.

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