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Hirohito

(1901—1989) emperor of Japan 1926–89


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(1901–1989)

Emperor of Japan (1926–89), who ruled as a divinity until Japan's defeat in World War II.

Born in Tokyo, 124th direct descendant of Jimmu, Japan's first emperor, he was the first Japanese crown prince to travel abroad. On his return from a visit to Europe in 1921, Hirohito became regent, when his father Yoshihito was declared insane. In 1924 he married Princess Nagako Kuai, and in the same year survived an assassination attempt. In 1926 he became emperor, after his father had died. He remained aloof from politics but was unsympathetic to his government's prewar expansionism. In 1945 he ordered the Japanese forces to accept unconditional surrender from the Allies. In so doing he broke with the precedent of imperial silence and spoke to his nation personally over the radio. Hirohito became a constitutional monarch by the terms of the new constitution, imposed by the Americans in 1946. His main interest was in marine biology, on which he wrote several books. He was succeeded by his son, Akihito (1933– ), in 1989.

Subjects: Second World War.


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