Friday, June 30, 2006

Why did Britain want to spare the Japanese Emperor?

I've long been wondering why the Allied Forces spared the Japanese Emperor after the Second World War was over. A usual explanation is that if the Allied Forces executed the Emperor, occupying Japan would have become difficult for the Allied Forces. Well, maybe.

A novel explanation - or novel at least to me - is given by Ian Nish and Peter Lowe (2001) "From Singapore to Tokyo Bay, 1941-1945" in Ian Nish and Yoichi Kibata eds. History of Anglo-Japanese Relations Volume II: The Political-Diplomatic Dimension, 1931-2000 (Palgrave MacMillan). From the viewpoint of Britain, which lost its colonial territories in Southeast Asia to Japan during the early phase of the war - symbolizing the loss of prestige long enjoyed by the British Empire, the Japanese Emperor needed to be saved and allowed to order all Japanese soliders stationed in Southeast Asia to surrender. Otherwise, these Japanese forces would have continued fighting against the British forces. To minimize the death toll on the British side during the process of re-colonizing Southeast Asia, the authority of the Japanese Emperor was indispensable.


Chen said...

As a fellow econ graduate student and blogger, I would say your blog is of much interest. American universities are churning out 800 econ Ph.D. each year. Just imagine how many of us are out there. Everyone is suffering and needing some sort of comforting. Following someone else's life isn't as boring as you might think.

Linus said...

Nature abhors a vacuum- and political vacuums can lead to total chaos. A nation of 90 million people would still need a leader of sorts and Hirohito was required. Perhaps the Allies also saw Japan as a foil against Russia - 1905 RussoJapan war and needed Japan to be strong again.