From the Emperor to His Majesty the Emperor, a way of dealing with “history” passed down from generation to generation
by Kei Yoshikawa BuzzFeed News Reporter, Japan April 30th 2019
Seventy-four years have passed since the end of World War II, and the generation that experienced the war is leaving the stage of history. From time to time, His Majesty the Emperor has spoken about the importance of learning about history. This attitude has been handed down to the Crown Prince as well.
After almost 30 years on the throne, His Majesty the Emperor will abdicate. The curtain is now coming down on an era.
He has been the crown prince of a defeated nation for more than 40 years, and the emperor for 30 years. His journey to the present day has been one of confronting the memory of the war that was fought in the name of his father, Emperor Showa.
For His Majesty the Emperor, the beginning of his childhood memories was “war.
My childhood memories begin in 1937, when I was three years old.
In that year, the Rohgou Bridge Incident occurred, and the war continued until August 1945. Therefore, I grew up not knowing a time when there was no war.
(On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his accession to the throne in 1999)
His Majesty the Emperor himself has stated that he is “sincerely relieved” that the “Heisei era” will end as an era without war.
What has been the driving force behind His Majesty’s continued desire for peace, both at home and abroad? This article examines the Emperor’s experience of war and the attitude toward history that has been handed down to the Crown Prince, the new Emperor of Japan.
The siren that sounded at the time of his birth
In the early morning hours of December 23, 1933, sirens wailed loudly as the sun rose in Tokyo.
The sirens sounded at 18 different locations in Tokyo for one minute, paused for 10 seconds, and then sounded for another minute.
It was to announce the birth of Crown Prince Akihito, the current Emperor of Japan.
Japan celebrates the birth of its “heir.
Prince Akihito was the first imperial son born to Emperor Showa and Empress Kajun. In other words, he is the “heir to the throne.
He was destined to become the emperor upon his birth. The whole of Japan was excited about his birth.
At the time, the newspaper said, “Congratulations! and “Both mother and child are in excellent health.
The paper featured a lantern procession of people in front of the Nijubashi Bridge at the Imperial Palace and advertisements by companies to celebrate the event. A congratulatory song with lyrics by Kitahara Hakushu was also written.
Sunrise, sunrise, sunrise
It rang. It rang.
Siren Siren Siren
Run Run Chin Gong
Until the dawn bell.
The Emperor is pleased.
Everyone give me your hand.
I’m so happy, Mother.
The Crown Prince is born.
(“The Crown Prince is Born” lyrics by Hakushu Kitahara, music by Shimpei Nakayama)
The stock market and market prices soared in a mood of “congratulation. In the Tsukiji market, sea bream sold well.
In 1933, the world was at a major crossroads.
Asahi Shimbun (Feb. 25, 1933)
In 1933, Japan was at a major crossroads. Two years after the Manchurian Incident and one year after the May 15 Incident, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations. It was a time when Japan was becoming increasingly isolated and militarized.
Looking around the world, the Nazis came to power in Germany, and Adolf Hitler became chancellor. In the United States, Franklin Roosevelt became president.
Every second, the world was on the eve of World War II.
In the middle of class, a stern Fu Manchu officer is behind…
Prince Akihito, the future “Emperor of Japan,” was separated from his parents at the age of three and raised by his entourage, including the Fuiku-kan, the official in charge of his upbringing.
In September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and World War II broke out. Nazi Germany soon swept across Europe.
In 1940, after the fall of Paris and the surrender of France to Nazi Germany, the six-year-old Prince Akihito entered Gakushuin Elementary School.
During classes, a strict instructor stood behind him and scolded him if his posture was bad or if he cheeked. Sometimes he would slap his knees or hands, and even correct the angle of his neck.
It was during a music class. When a teacher called him “Your Highness,” he faltered, unable to reply. The instructor walked up to him and patted him on the back, shouting, “Tell me your name. Tears were said to have welled up in the eyes of Prince Akihito.
As crown prince, he also inspected the military…
Asahi Shimbun (October 23, 1943)
On the front page of the Asahi Shimbun, the article read, “The Crown Prince visits the splendor of the Imperial Army engineers and the reality of farming.
On December 8, 1941, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor on the U.S. island of Hawaii. The Pacific War began. While the Sino-Japanese War was getting bogged down, Japan was also engaged in warfare with the United States and Great Britain.
Prince Akihito, as Crown Prince, inspected the military and other facilities. He was given the role of promoting national prestige.
However, the Pacific War reached a major turning point six months into the war.
In June 1942, Japan was soundly defeated by the Americans at the Battle of Midway. Japan lost four of its main aircraft carriers, one cruiser, more than 120 skilled pilots, and about 300 fighter planes at once.
From then on, Japan gradually lost control of the seas and airspace in the Pacific. The war’s inferiority complex was set in motion.
Evacuation to Numazu, Nikko, and Oku-Nikko
When the island of Saipan fell two months later, the threat of air raids on the mainland became even greater.
Two months later, when the island of Saipan fell, the threat of air raids on the mainland became even greater. Prince Akihito moved from Numazu to Tamozawa Imperial Villa in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, and then to Oku-Nikko. At that time, the food situation worsened, and there were times when he relieved his hunger with wild grasses and nuts.
Two days before the end of the war, he encountered a U.S. military aircraft while out. He ran to an air-raid shelter.
Seeing Tokyo as a burnt-out wasteland
At noon on August 15, 1945, the broadcast of the war’s defeat was announced. At a hotel in Oku-Nikko, where he had evacuated, he listened to the voice of his father, Emperor Showa, on the radio.
On November 25, 1945, a little over three months after the end of the war, Prince Akihito returned to Tokyo from Oku-Nikko. From the window of the train, he could see the burnt ruins of the Imperial City after the Tokyo Air Raid.
It was the autumn of 1993, when Prince Akihito was 11 years old.
In the first day of writing, he vowed to…
In 1946, the year after the end of the war, His Imperial Highness Prince Akihito wrote on a half-sheet of paper.
Building a peaceful nation.
True to these words, His Majesty the Emperor has expressed his wish for peace through his actions from his days as Crown Prince to the present day.
On June 23, the anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and August 15, the anniversary of the end of the war, he offered a moment of silence every year as “days that must not be forgotten.
In 1975, when he was the Crown Prince, he made his first visit to Okinawa as a member of the Imperial Family. In 1975, when he was the Crown Prince, he visited Okinawa for the first time as a member of the Imperial Family, and at that time, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Himeyuri Tower.
Even so, he continued to think about Okinawa’s history of hardship. He also composed a “Ryukyuan poem” wishing for peace.
Hana yo oshiyageyun, hito shiranai kokoro
(We offer flowers. (Offer flowers to the souls of unknown people who died on the battlefield.)
A world without war.
(Wishing for a world without war in our hearts)
He has visited not only Japan, but also the cliffs of Banzai Cliff, where the trapped people of Saipan threw themselves, and Peleliu Island in Palau, the site of fierce battles between Japan and the United States.
How to deal with the “history” passed down from father to son
What can we do to avoid repeating our mistakes?
From time to time, His Majesty the Emperor has spoken about the importance of learning about history. In 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, he made the following statement.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
It was a war in which many people died. The number of people who died on the battlefields, in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in the bombings of Tokyo and other cities was truly enormous.
I think it is extremely important to take this opportunity to learn more about the history of this war, starting with the Manchurian Incident, and to think about the future of Japan.
Learning from the past, knowing the present, and applying it to the future. This attitude was passed on to His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince.
In the same year, on the occasion of his 55th birthday, the Crown Prince also spoke about “history. The Crown Prince, who is also a historian, explained the significance of learning about history.
I myself was born after the war and did not experience the war, but today, as the memory of the war is fading, I think it is important to look back on the past with humility and to pass on the tragic experiences and the history of Japan correctly from the generation that experienced the war to the generation that has never known the war.
Their Majesties have spoken directly to Aiko about the last war, and I have also told her what I have heard from Their Majesties and what I know myself.
After the horrors of war, our country was built on the foundation of the Constitution of Japan and has enjoyed peace and prosperity since the end of the war.
I hope that this year, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, will be an opportunity for us to reflect deeply on the labor of those who laid the foundation for Japan’s development, to remember the preciousness of peace, and to renew our commitment to peace.
The times have changed from father to son, and the faces of the people living there have changed as well. Still, there is something that we must not forget. That is “history.