High-profile Japanese cosmetic surgeon Katsuya Takasu won an auction for the only-known World War II memoirs of Emperor Hirohito, besting the competition with a bid of $275,000 (¥30 million) in New York on Wednesday.
The price was nearly double the higher end of pre-auction estimates, which ranged from $100,000 to $150,000, according to auction house Bonhams.
Takasu is widely known in Japan because he has sponsored a number of TV programs for years and is featured in commercials aired almost every day.
The 173-page, two-volume document he bought is widely known in Japan as “Showa Tenno Dokuhakuroku” (“Emperor Showa’s Monologue”).
When the transcript was first published by monthly magazine Bungei Shunju in 1990, it caused a national sensation because Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, frankly discussed in the record various political events and war in the 1930s and 1940s.
The document auctioned this week was the only known copy of the memoir, which covers World War II and the era leading up to the conflict.
“I really wanted to see the original because the published text could have been edited. On top that, I slightly felt something like indignation because it was sold in an overseas auction,” Dr. Takasu said in a phone interview with The Japan Times on Thursday.
“I believe what belongs to Japan should be kept in Japan,” said Takasu, adding that he is now considering donating the documents to the Imperial Family.
An Imperial Household Agency spokesman told The Japan Times that the agency has not yet been contacted by Takasu. The spokesperson said that in general, under the Imperial Household Finance Act, the Emperor is not allowed to receive gifts beyond a total value of ¥6 million a year.
Takasu runs Takasu Clinic in Tokyo and four other group cosmetic hospitals in Japan. He drew public attention earlier this year when the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, claimed that Takasu praised Adolf Hitler and denied the Holocaust and the 1937 Nanking Massacre in social media messages.
On Twitter, Takasu wrote on Oct. 18, 2015: “I believe both Nanking (Massacre) and Auschwitz are fabrications.”
Takasu told The Japan Times on Thursday that he just believes the number of victims in the Nanking Massacre has been exaggerated. He added that while he accepts that people were killed and abused by the Nazis, he believes “toxic gas” was not used to kill victims at Auschwitz.
“I’m not a sympathizer of Nazism and don’t agree with their ideology, either,” Takasu said Thursday.
Emperor Showa’s Monologue was prepared in apparent preparation for the postwar International Military Tribunal for the Far East, better known as the Tokyo Trial.
The record was dictated by the Emperor to several of his aides soon after the war and transcribed by senior diplomat Hidenari Terasaki.
The document in question was originally discovered in Terasaki’s belongings when they were being held by his daughter, Mariko Terasaki Miller.
The Emperor discussed topics such as Japanese politics at the time, Japan’s assassination of Manchuria warlord Zhang Zuolin in 1928, and the nation’s surrender at the end World War II in August 1945.
The Emperor’s frank discussion about the history of the war has fueled heated debate among historians, including the extent to which the leader himself was responsible for key political decisions during Japan’s wars and conflicts in the 1930s and 1940s.