“This Fundamental Problem”: MacArthur Saves Hirohito

Ray A. Moore and Donald L. Robinson

in Partners for Democracy

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151169
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833917 | DOI:
 “This Fundamental Problem”: MacArthur Saves Hirohito

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Describes how MacArthur in late 1945 and early 1946 saved Hirohito from trial as a war criminal. Contacted by imperial advisers, MacArthur became convinced that Hirohito would cooperate in democratizing, and perhaps Christianizing, Japan (MacArthur believed that Christianity was essential to democracy and encouraged American missionaries to fill Japan's “spiritual vacuum”). The emperor's New Year's statement supported this view. When Washington signed the Moscow agreement, which gave the Allies control over political reform in Japan, and warned that Hirohito might be indicted, MacArthur defended the emperor in a long telegram to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ordered his staff to draft a “model constitution” for Japan with the emperor at the head of the state.

Keywords: “model constitution,” emperor at head of state; American missionaries; democratizing and Christianizing Japan; Emperor Hirohito as war criminal; emperor's New Year's statement; General Douglas MacArthur; imperial advisers; Joint Chiefs of Staff; Moscow agreement

Chapter.  7200 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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