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HIROHITO'S DEGRADATION

that there is no further need for security the top Allied commanders have told the world how complete were their plans for the final stages of the assault on Japan. General Mac Arthur was well on with his preparations for the invasion, and Admiral Mountbatten was only waiting for the end of the monsoon to set off the drive which, we presume, had Singapore as its goal. Admiral Halsey called off a new recoid carrier-plane strike within seconds of the news being announced, and General Spaatz was only waiting for the signal to send his SuperForts out with more atomic bombs. Everywhere the tempo was being stepped up, and there can be no doubt that, even without the atomic bomb or Russian intervention, the defeat of Japan was not very far away. But to the ordinary man in the Imperial forces this will not be at all obvious. To the individual Japanese in the huge armies which have never fired a shot in anger the capitulation must be baffling. Throughout his life he has been told that to die is honourable—to give up, shameful. Never in his most fantastic sake-induced dreams did he imagine his Emperor could surrender. To-day, as he lays down his arms, he must face the fact that the impossible has happened. To all those who have had dealings with the Japanese the capitulation for this reason has still something of unreality about it. It is true that Japan was subjected to a severe pounding from sea and air, but the resultant destruction was not comparable with that inflicted on Germany. Virtual blockade had been established, but the country could not have begun to really feel the pinch of personal want or industrial shortages. And yet, even before the Russian declaration of war and the dropping of the atomic bomb, the Japanese Government was putting out peace feelers. In the iight of this extraordinary state of affairs it would seem that the wealthy governing classes (as was predicted by many with a knowledge of the country) were primarily interested, once they realised that disaster was just round the corner, in saving some portion of their fortunes. Playing no part in the political life of their country, the ordinary men and women could not influence things one way or the other, but for the ruling families unconditional surrender meant total eclipse. The fact that they have accepted our'terms before invasion made their cause hopeless indicates that they hope to salvage something. It will be up to us to prove that hope vain. By accepting our terms the Japanese have undoubtedly saved themselves from the most terrific punishment ever planned, but they have also saved the United Nations hundreds of thousands of lives. Even with the tremendous support from guns and planes which would have been ours, Allied casualties in the invasion of Japan would have been heavier than in any other operation during the war in Europe or the Pacific. The atomic bomb is nqt a tactical weapon, and the Japanese soldier has demonstrated his ability to dig in and stay under the most intensive blasting earlier employed. To-day, as he lays down his arms without a fight,, the ordinary soldier must be undergoing mental torment. The teaching of a lifetime cannot be eradicated in one sweep, and his Emperor's surrender must have utterly shaken his faith. Had he been battle the Japanese might have found some honour in defeat; in his present spiritual degradation lies our opportunity. When he surrendered unconditionally Hirohito brought the stature of the Emperor down to the common level. His people must be made to realise that the myth that their ruler is also the Son of Heaven has been for ever exploded.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19450816.2.30.1

Bibliographic details

HIROHITO'S DEGRADATION, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 193, 16 August 1945

Word Count
622

HIROHITO'S DEGRADATION Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 193, 16 August 1945

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