General Macarthur and the Emperor Essay

This essay has a total of 869 words and 4 pages.


General Macarthur and the Emperor





General MacArthur and the Emperor

“If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, it was the image of General MacArthur
and Emperor Hirohito standing side by side during their historic first meeting on
September 27, 1945. In it, a casually dressed MacArthur towers over the stiff, formally
attired Emperor. "What does it say?" asks historian Carol Gluck. "It says, I'm
MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, and I'm in charge." For millions of
Japanese, it brought home in an entirely new way the notion that they had lost the
war.”

General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito were considered to be two of the most
enigmatic figures of the 20th century. The ambiguity surrounding their roles in leading
Japan before and after the war make one realize how complex (and just plain strange)
they actually were. To many of his subjects, Hirohito was the "emperor of heaven," not
really a man at all, but the living incarnation of Japan. No matter what you may know
about the two men, their lives provide an interesting perspective into how the running and
occupation of japan worked.

Emperor Hirohito was installed as Crown Prince at the age of fifteen, Hirohito attained
what was called the "Chrysanthemum Throne" (don’t ask why) in 1926 when his father,
the Emperor Yoshihito died. Because his father had been weak and sickly, Hirohito ruled
more in his grandfather’s shadow, the great Emperor Meiji, who presided over Japan's
ridiculously funny late-19th-century opening up to the West and modernization. Even
before assuming the throne, many web sites that could have been actually made-up say that
Hirohito reflected the same fascination with the West, especially after his six-month tour
of Europe in 1921, where he picked up a lasting taste for Western food and clothes.
Personally, I have a hard time believing that a vacation when he was nine could have
possibly affected him so profoundly, but it seems to have been shown at least partially
true in 1975, when he visited the United States, meeting John Wayne, conversing with
President Ford, and receiving a Mickey Mouse watch he supposedly wore for years. In
between, however, he presided over one of the largest and most costly military ventures
since Hannibal. In the years after the war, the accepted version of events holds that
Hirohito was essentially a pawn of the militarists who gained control of the government
shortly after he took the throne. MacArthur, convinced he needed the Emperor’s help
(that is to say, his submission) to run a smooth occupation, played no small part in
establishing this version. With Hirohito's quiet manner, love of haiku and marine
biology, the image of the peace-loving man who was powerless to stop his country's
murderous expansion took hold. But in the decade since his death, a fuller inquiry into
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