Emperor Showa Speaks: The Path to War - Part 2 (1937-1941)
Soon after Japan's defeat, Emperor Showa spoke at great length about the path to the Pacific War. This discussion was recorded in the Haietsuki (Records of Imperial Audiences) by Tajima Michiji, the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency. The emperor spoke of his remorse over the inability to restrain the Japanese military during a time of international upheaval. In addition, the journals of the emperor's grand chamberlain Hyakutake Saburo were made public in September 2021. In 1941, the emperor had high expectations for negotiations with the US, while he lost sleep over the outbreak of war between Germany and the USSR. Japan's advance into southern French Indochina (now Vietnam) brought American economic sanctions (prohibition of oil exports to Japan) that had not been anticipated, and calls from the Imperial Navy for a speedy commencement of hostilities became more insistent. In the end, the emperor ordered Tojo Hideki to form a Cabinet, and went on to sanction the beginning of the war. The journals record his anguish in great detail. These newly available historical documents, coupled with dramatic recreations, are used to examine the decision-making of the emperor and his close aides in the period leading to the outbreak of the Pacific War.