Annals of late Emperor Hirohito, longest ever, completed


The annals of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, has been completed 24 years after its compilation began.

Noriyuki Kazaoka, chief of the Imperial Household Agency, on Thursday dedicated the chronological record of the late Emperor’s behavior and events related to him to his son Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

The annals will be disclosed in mid-September and none of the content will be blacked out. Emperor Hirohito was born on April 29, 1901, and died on Jan. 7, 1989, at the age of 87.

He ascended to the Chrysanthemum throne on Dec. 25, 1926, when he was 25, following the death of his father, Emperor Yoshihito, during the Taisho Era. Emperor Hirohito was on the throne for a little more than 62 years until his death.

Historians will probably be eager to see whether new information emerges that can help fill gaps left in their knowledge of the Showa Era, such as the process that led to the launch of the Pacific War in World War II, and Emperor Hirohito’s decision to surrender in August 1945.

The annals come in 60 volumes plus one volume for the index and one for explanatory notes, comprising 12,137 pages. The annals are the longest ever published for an emperor.

The deadline for the annals, which started in 1990 as a 16-year project, was extended twice. The work finally ended in March this year, and the record was declared complete after a final check that began in April.

A total of 112 regular and part-time employees at the Imperial Household Agency were involved in the project. The related expenses came to about ¥232 million, excluding personnel costs.

For the project, the staff collected some 3,000 items, including the diaries of the chamberlains of Emperor Hirohito, interviewed about 50 people, visited all 47 prefectures and made five overseas trips, including to the United States and Britain, to gather related materials and documents.

The annals will be published in 18 volumes plus an index in stages through a private-sector publisher over the coming five years. The first two volumes, covering the period from 1901 to 1920, are expected to be published next March.

The annals of Emperor Yoshihito, posthumously known as Emperor Taisho, were completed in 1936. But its contents have remained confidential.

The Imperial Household Agency released the annals in four batches between 2002 and 2011 in response to requests made under right-to-know legislation that took effect in 2001.

But the agency was criticized for blacking out some of the materials disclosed, including parts about the state of the Emperor Yoshihito’s disease, saying that such information was personal.

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