Japan should have made more use of the late Emperor Hirohito and allowed him to interact with ordinary members of the public, a disclosed dispatch from Britain's ambassador to Japan in 1976 showed Friday.

Michael Wilford believed the Emperor was little more than a "figurehead" and a "convenient performer of religious rites," according to files made public by the National Archives in London.

In his dispatch to London, Wilford said he found the Japanese monarchy's limited role "difficult to fathom." He felt Emperor Hirohito should play a bigger role in public life, as exemplified by Britain's Queen Elizabeth.