This reexamination of the controversial role Emperor Hirohito played during the Pacific War gives particular attention to the question: If the emperor could not stop Japan from going to war with the Allied Powers in 1941, why was he able to play a crucial role in ending the war in 1945? Drawing on previously unavailable primary sources, Noriko Kawamura traces Hirohito's actions from the late 1920s to the end of the war, analyzing the role Hirohito played in Japan's expansion. Emperor Hirohito emerges as a conflicted man who struggled throughout the war to deal with the undefined powers bestowed upon him as a monarch, often juggling the contradictory positions and irreconcilable differences advocated by his subordinates. Kawamura shows that he was by no means a pacifist, but neither did he favor the reckless wars advocated by Japan's military leaders.
Noriko Kawamura is associate professor of history at Washington State University. She is the author of Turbulence in the Pacific: Japanese-U.S. Relations during World War I.
"Kawamura offers a novel perspective on the role of Emperor Hirohito in the Pacific War and in the years which preceded it. Based on new and reappraised sources, she draws a human portrait of him, different from the caricatures that have been presented until now."
-Ben-Ami Shillony, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
"This is a strong book. It sets out in careful detail the maneuvering in and about the emperor on the key issues of the war, and it comes to considered judgments."
-Richard Minear, University of Massachusetts Amherst