Hirohito And The Making Of Modern Japan (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - History - 832 pages
57 Reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

In this groundbreaking biography of the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Herbert P. Bix offers the first complete, unvarnished look at the enigmatic leader whose sixty-three-year reign ushered Japan into the modern world. Never before has the full life of this controversial figure been revealed with such clarity and vividness. Bix shows what it was like to be trained from birth for a lone position at the apex of the nation's political hierarchy and as a revered symbol of divine status. Influenced by an unusual combination of the Japanese imperial tradition and a modern scientific worldview, the young emperor gradually evolves into his preeminent role, aligning himself with the growing ultranationalist movement, perpetuating a cult of religious emperor worship, resisting attempts to curb his power, and all the while burnishing his image as a reluctant, passive monarch. Here we see Hirohito as he truly was: a man of strong will and real authority.

Supported by a vast array of previously untapped primary documents, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan is perhaps most illuminating in lifting the veil on the mythology surrounding the emperor's impact on the world stage. Focusing closely on Hirohito's interactions with his advisers and successive Japanese governments, Bix sheds new light on the causes of the China War in 1937 and the start of the Asia-Pacific War in 1941. And while conventional wisdom has had it that the nation's increasing foreign aggression was driven and maintained not by the emperor but by an elite group of Japanese militarists, the reality, as witnessed here, is quite different. Bix documents in detail the strong, decisive role Hirohito played in wartime operations, from the takeover of Manchuria in 1931 through the attack on Pearl Harbor and ultimately the fateful decision in 1945 to accede to an unconditional surrender. In fact, the emperor stubbornly prolonged the war effort and then used the horrifying bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, together with the Soviet entrance into the war, as his exit strategy from a no-win situation. From the moment of capitulation, we see how American and Japanese leaders moved to justify the retention of Hirohito as emperor by whitewashing his wartime role and reshaping the historical consciousness of the Japanese people. The key to this strategy was Hirohito's alliance with General MacArthur, who helped him maintain his stature and shed his militaristic image, while MacArthur used the emperor as a figurehead to assist him in converting Japan into a peaceful nation. Their partnership ensured that the emperor's image would loom large over the postwar years and later decades, as Japan began to make its way in the modern age and struggled -- as it still does -- to come to terms with its past.

Until the very end of a career that embodied the conflicting aims of Japan's development as a nation, Hirohito remained preoccupied with politics and with his place in history. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan provides the definitive account of his rich life and legacy. Meticulously researched and utterly engaging, this book is proof that the history of twentieth-century Japan cannot be understood apart from the life of its most remarkable and enduring leader.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
13
4 stars
22
3 stars
20
2 stars
1
1 star
1

Thoroughly researched and in depth. - Goodreads
Long and detailed, but not difficult to read. - Goodreads
Herbert P. Bix did a great job in writing this novel. - Goodreads

Review: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

User Review  - Alex Napoli - Goodreads

In short, I'm giving this book three stars primarily for Bix's primary and secondary research conducted in Japanese and decent narrative of the Shōwa Emperor's life. However, this book is generally a ... Read full review

Review: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

User Review  - S. Miles Lotman - Goodreads

The American novelist, William Faulkner, famously said, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” His subject matter was black-white race relations and the legacy of slavery in the American South ... Read full review

Contents

III
2
IV
22
V
58
VI
84
VII
128
VIII
172
IX
206
X
236
XIV
376
XV
404
XVI
456
XVII
504
XVIII
550
XIX
598
XX
636
XXI
664

XI
239
XII
296
XIII
334
XXII
706
XXIII
802
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 222 - in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
Page 558 - The authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate these terms of surrender.
Page 30 - divine, and sacred. He is preeminent above all his subjects. He must be reverenced and is inviolable. He has indeed to pay due respect to the law, but the law has no power to hold him accountable to it. ... He shall not be made a topic of derogatory comment nor
Page 31 - should emergency arise, offer yourselves courageously to the State; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth.
Page 30 - The Sacred Throne was established at the time when the heavens and the earth became separated." (Kojiki) The Emperor is Heaven descended, divine, and sacred. He is preeminent above all his subjects. He must be reverenced and is inviolable. He has indeed to pay due respect to the law, but the law has no power to hold him accountable to it.
Page 544 - Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the imperial state, we are always with ye, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity. Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that
Page 544 - engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead ye astray and cause ye to lose the confidence of the world. Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishability of its divine land,
Page 172 - [t]he empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of emperors unbroken for ages eternal,

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2009)

Herbert P. Bix grew up in Winthrop, Massachusetts, and earned his Ph.D. in history and Far Eastern languages from Harvard University. For the past thirty years he has written extensively on modern and contemporary Japanese history in leading journals in the United States and Japan. He has taught Japanese history at a number of American and Japanese universities, most recently at Harvard, and is currently a professor in the Graduate School of Social Sciences at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.

Bibliographic information