The Emperor’s Monologue is a handwritten account of Japan from before World War II to its surrender in August of 1945. The memoir was dictated by Emperor Hirohito and written by an aide.
An auction house in New York placed the document for sale this month. It was purchased for $275,000 by Dr. Katsuya Takasu.Dr. Takasu is a popular figure in Japanese media. A plastic surgeon by trade, he regularly appears on television to promote cosmetic surgery.
Recently, he has come under fire, as tweets he made two years ago have resurfaced. In the tweets, he states that the “Rape of Nanjing” and the Auschwitz concentration camp were “fabrications.” He has since tried to clarify that he is opposed to Nazism but that he is not convinced that some of the war crimes, known to have occurred in WWII, actually happened at all. He also went on to state that he respects the medical practices of that era.
In November 2017, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (a non-profit organization that seeks to end anti-Semitism in the world) announced that Takasu had been kicked out of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery because of the tweets. The center said that Takasu’s tweets proved that he was a “racist anti-Semite” and that he loved Nazism.
In spite of his alleged ties to Nazism, Takasu is known as a philanthropic individual. He gathered other prominent cosmetic surgeons together to offer free cosmetic surgery to victims of the 1995 Hanshin earthquake that killed over 6,000 and wounded thousands more. He also donated $390,000 to the Nigerian soccer team that won bronze in the 2016 Rio Olympics, stating that he liked to reward people that tried their best even without support.
The Emperor’s Monologue was written at the insistence of General Douglas MacArthur. It is thought that MacArthur felt that it was necessary to keep the emperor as a figurehead, in order to preserve the peace in Japan and to help push through plans for the reconstruction of Japan.
Hirohito dictated the memoirs to an aide, Terasaki Hidenari. Hidenari worked as a translator for the emperor.In the memoir, Hirohito distances himself from responsibility for the decisions made leading up to the war and in the war itself. This was used to keep Hirohito from appearing before the war crimes committees in Tokyo and in Nuremberg. This allowed Hirohito to use his political influence to push MacArthur’s reconstruction plans through.
Hirohito paints himself as someone who had no other choice but to agree with the decisions made by the cabinet. He claims to have been worried that opposing them would have created a civil conflict within Japan that would have been worse than the war.
However, some historians cite documentation that seems to show that Hirohito was intimately involved in the war effort and personally signed off on some of the more egregious war crimes committed by the Japanese military.
Following the war though, military leaders were pressured to take the blame for Japan’s war crimes, leaving the emperor with no responsibility for the military’s actions. This left Hirohito free to continue as emperor after the war, though he rescinded the claim that the emperor was a god in human form. Even without his god-like stature and with his political powers weakened by MacArthur’s constitutional government, Hirohito was instrumental in spearheading the changes that allowed the Japanese nation to recreate itself as a peaceful economic powerhouse.
The auction was arranged by Bonhams, a British auction house. They expected the Monologue to sell for between $100,000 and $150,000. Bonhams said that the two notebooks that make up the Monologues, were the only full record of the emperor’s memoirs. They called the notebooks key to understanding Japanese history.