Friday, April 30, 2010

Showa Day 昭和の日

Yesterday was Showa day a Japanese annual holiday and the birthday of former Emperor Showa (Hirohito). Showa was the reigning Emperor before, during and after World War II. The purpose of the holiday is to encourage public reflection on the turbulent 63 years of Hirohito's reign rather than glorifying the emperor himself. Did you spend anytime reflecting today?

Photograph on the University of Tōkyō Hongo campus.


  1. There is actually great article on Hirohito on wikipedia (where else). It actually helped me understand the dysfunctional relationship between Japan and her neighbors even to this day.

    The historical records showed that Hirohito was a hippocritical coward at best (Sugiyama, you told me that invading China was going to be easy!), and then condemming and refusing to visit the Yasukuni shrine when he had expressly directed the war criminals there himself to give their lives for Japan.

    Yet MacArthur expressly protected him (even refusing to accept his post-war apologies) to use as a buffer against the Soviets. MacArthur was no less than a political genius. Was it worth the price of denying catarhsis to the millions who suffered in East Asia, to prevent North and South Japan? In truth, probably, since you can't bring back the dead. But it will certainly poison the relations between Japan and the rest of East Asia for generations to come, despite the overwhelming good will on a personal level.

  2. A very valid observation, the war crimes that occurred during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II (not to mention Japanese xenophobia) still cast a heavy shadow over present and future Japanese relations with its neighbors. Even after 65 years Japan is still trying to come to terms with its own identity despite being spared separation into North and South at the end of WWII.