Few historical subjects have aroused as much passionate debate as the Showa Emperor, Hirohito. This book, based on extensive research in Japanese and English sources, impartially explores how far Hirohito was responsible for war, why he emerged as a contested 'symbol emperor' in postwar Japan, and his legacy to Japan today. In reconstructing and evaluating Hirohito's prewar and wartime political role, Dr. Large portrays the Emperor's personality, world view and political style while carefully elucidating the byzantine political context in which he operated, all against the background of momentous crises both within Japan and overseas. The author then examines Hirohito's long career following the defeat of Japan in 1945: his exemption from trial as a war criminal and role during the Occupation; his image-making by the government and the media; his overseas tours, to Europe in 1971 and America in 1975; and contrasting popular reactions to his death in January 1989. Written for the general reader as well as specialists in Japanese Studies, Emperor Hirohito and Showa Japan also offers broad insights into the religious and secular nature of imperial authority, power and influence, the political culture of the Japanese aristocracy, the dynamics of the modern Japanese State, and the intricate interplay of nationalism and democracy in Japan since the Pacific War.

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