History lesson - January 24, 1946
TOKYO — Noted author Bill Holstein recently shared a copy of a memo from General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers in Japan, circa Jan. 24, 1946, dealing with the question of what to do with Emperor Hirohito, Japan sovereign during World War II. Bill received this earlier from researcher Linda Goetz Holmes. I attach the MacArthur memo and the Holmes letter below for any history buffs out there who may be interested, with thanks to Bill Holstein. Some of you may have already seen it, but it’s worth another look.
Some background: The Allied occupation of Japan, led by the United States began in September 1945, after Japan’s formal surrender, and several hundred thousand soldiers were initially stationed here. MacArthur ran the show from his office in the Dai-Ichi building facing the Imperial grounds, overseeing sweeping democratic reforms as well as the arrest of several dozen war criminals including Japanese government and military leaders in preparation for a war crimes tribunal.
MacArthur had first met with Emperor Hirohito on Sept. 27 at the U.S. Embassy residence in Tokyo. A photo of their meeting, in which the casually dressed General, hands in back pockets, towered over Hirohito in his formal morning coat, conveyed to the Japanese public who was now in charge. Many Allied political and military leaders wanted Hirohito to be arrested and tried along with the others as a war criminal. But MacArthur resisted, arguing that it was better to keep Hirohito where he was, if downgraded to a figurehead.