The Imperial Household Agency on Saturday released the first images in half a century of an air-raid shelter where Emperor Hirohito and his ministers made some of Japan’s most momentous decisions during World War II.
Photos and video taken by agency staffers show the shelter in a severely damaged state, with rusted steel doors, corridors with stained walls, and dirt and debris blocking what used to be exits.
There has apparently been little effort made to preserve the aging facility over the years.
It was the first time both the interior and exterior of the shelter had been shown to the public since 1965.
Located in the thick Fukiage forest inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, some of the historic meetings held in the facility included the Supreme War Direction Council on Aug. 10, 1945, and an Imperial Conference on Aug. 14 where, in the presence of the Emperor, the decisions that led to the ending of the war were made.
The facility, an annex to a separate shelter built exclusively for the Imperial Couple called Obunko, was constructed by the Imperial Japanese Army. It was placed under the agency’s jurisdiction in 1941.
The two facilities are connected via a subterranean pathway.
The agency said it posted the 25 photos and video on its website in response to the rising interest in Showa Era history as Japan prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of its surrender in World War II. Emperor Hirohito is posthumously known as Emperor Showa.