September 26, 1945 – MacArthur Meets Hirohito
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Two significant events for this September 26th in 1945. The first being General MacArthur’s meeting with Emperor Hirohito, MacArthur’s first since being appointed head of the Allied Occupation of Japan. A meeting that was strictly formal and, judging by the official U.S. Army photo op – terse.
In August 1945, at the end of World War II, there were demands in Washington, as well as from the British, the Russians and others, that Hirohito be brought to trial as a war criminal for his involvement in militarism, be it involuntary or otherwise. But General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the American commander of the Allied occupation of Japan, decided that it was essential to keep the Emperor on his throne as a possible unifying force in a country that faced political chaos as the postwar period began.
Later accounts of the Emperor’s wartime role asserted that he had been deeply opposed personally to the military adventurism undertaken by the generals, admirals and nationalist officials who wielded the real power in the Government. According to this view, they had dictated the bellicose imperial rescripts that accompanied the progress of Japanese arms at every step.
According to the records of the time, it was Hirohito who personally called for an end to the war after Japan’s defeat became certain. His decision to surrender came when a divided Cabinet left it to the Emperor to say whether the views of the peacemakers should prevail over those who wished to fight on.
The second significant event this day, being an allied landing party heading into mainland China to facilitate surrender terms and the disarming of remaining Japanese troops. It was unclear if there would be resistance, so the U.S. staged a full-on invasion force to make sure things went smoothly.
And those were the significant events to take place on this particular September 26th in 1945. Post World War 2, but a lot of cleaning up to do.