MacArthur-Emperor document made public

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday released a document detailing the first meeting between Emperor Showa and U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1945.

The document does not feature any allusions by the Emperor to his wartime responsibility.

The ministry said it is the first time a complete written account of the meeting, which took place Sept. 27, 1945, at the U.S. Embassy, has been released.

Portions of the meeting were published in a 1975 periodical. According to the periodical, Emperor Showa, who was known internationally as Emperor Hirohito, stated that he wanted to do his best to avoid conflict.

MacArthur, who was supreme commander of the Allied powers in Japan, expressed understanding, according to the publication.

The meeting was the first of 11 between Emperor Showa and MacArthur during the 1945-1951 Allied Occupation.

The Foreign Ministry released the nine-page document at the request of the media. The ministry said it has no records pertaining to the 10 subsequent meetings.

The document was compiled by former Vice Foreign Minister Katsuzo Okumura, who served as an interpreter at the meeting.

The document states that MacArthur talked about the war in strong terms for the first 20 minutes of the 37-minute meeting.

Emperor Showa voiced regret over the war, which ended Aug. 15, 1945, following his acceptance of the surrender terms of the Potsdam Declaration issued July 26.

In his memoirs, published in 1964, MacArthur quoted Emperor Showa as saying at the first meeting he would entrust himself to the judgment of the powers represented by the supreme commander.

But the Foreign Ministry document attributes no such remarks to the Emperor, provoking speculation that they were omitted by Okumura, who may have been concerned that Emperor Showa could face a war crimes trial.

According to the document, Emperor Showa said he and the Japanese people understood the reality of Japan’s defeat.

He also said he hoped to carry out the stipulations of the Potsdam Declaration, voicing intent to build a new postwar system.

MacArthur lauded Emperor Showa’s authority, which led Japanese citizens and the Imperial Japanese Army to obey his decision to end the war.

He reportedly described this authority as unparalleled among state leaders around the world.

Researchers described the release of the declassified document — in accordance with a recent information disclosure law providing public access to data — as significant for the history of the occupation.

Emperor Showa died in January 1989.