Hirohito: the war criminal who got off scot-free

WARNING! This article contains shocking descriptions of war crimes that may not be suitable for all readers.

This article is part of the
$100,000 Challenge Series

People often think they are enlightened even when they believe things that should have been left in the Dark Ages.

In this series, I will challenge conventional wisdom and explore some odd and unjustifiable beliefs that persist, offering $100,000 to the first person who can solve each challenge, proving me wrong. My opinions are bound to ruffle some feathers and make you think.

When asked to name the worst mass murderer in history, most people would likely answer Adolf Hitler, but he is in a distant fourth place behind Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong), the Chinese dictator who killed 70 million, Joseph Stalin, who killed an estimated 20 million, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan, who killed even more than Stalin.

Is it fair to blame Hirohito for those deaths? Yes. While he did not personally kill anyone, neither did Hitler. Like other brutal leaders, he got others to do the dirty work for him. Had we caught Hitler, we would have prosecuted him as a war criminal and executed him. Thus, while Hitler didn't personally murder his victims, he was guilty as hell, and I've yet to meet anyone idiotic enough to claim otherwise.

Why, then, was Hirohito allowed to get off scot-free and return to his carefree life of luxury? The answer to that is a bit more complex than you might imagine, but the answers provide fascinating insight into history that is generally omitted from textbooks. After reading this article, I think you will agree that shielding students from those facts undermines their ability to understand China and some inscrutable decisions made by U.S. leaders.

Hirohito is often depicted in the United States and Japan as a mild-mannered and extremely bright scientist who was a powerless figurehead duped into war by blood-thirsty militarists.

Hogwash. From the Wikipedia: “In pre-World War 2 Japan, the Emperor alone was sovereign.” More from the Wikipedia:

"The imperial constitution, adopted under Emperor Meiji, gave full power to the Emperor. Article 4 prescribed that, “The Emperor is the head of the Empire, combining in Himself the rights of sovereignty, and exercises them, according to the provisions of the present Constitution,” while, according to article 6, “The Emperor gives sanction to laws and orders them to be promulgated and executed,” and article 11, “The Emperor has the supreme command of the Army and the Navy.” The Emperor was thus the leader of the Imperial General Headquarters."

Moreover, the Emperor of Japan was revered as THE God in that country. No man or group of men possessed his constitutional authority or status as the God. To Americans used to the many flaws of our leaders that prove they are all too human, it may be difficult to comprehend how a nation could be so blindly devoted to one man who was viewed as the supreme being, but they were. That devotion was still so strong decades after the war ended that merely criticizing the Emperor for his obvious role in the war was sufficient to trigger death threats from devotees defending his honor. Susan Chira reported that Japanese “scholars who have spoken out against the late Emperor [in regard to his war role] have received threatening phone calls from Japan's extremist right wing.”

Hitoshi Motoshima, the mayor of Nagasaki and the recipient of the first Korea/Japan Peace and Fellowship Prize and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, “was shot and critically wounded by a member of the ultranationalist group, Seikijuku” after he said, “From reading various accounts from abroad and having been a soldier myself, involved in military education, I do believe that the Emperor bore responsibility for the war.”

Kentaro Awaya argues that post-war Japanese public opinion supporting protection of the Emperor was influenced by US propaganda promoting the view that the Emperor together with the Japanese people had been fooled by the military.

Fooled by the military? Even people with room-temperature IQs could easily tell that Japan was waging a brutally aggressive war. One would need to be as clueless as a potted plant to not realize what Japan was doing at that time, which was invading foreign countries, killing and enslaving their people, raping everyone from infants to grandmothers, and looting their gold, silver, gems, and other treasures.

It is an insult to the intelligence of Emperor Hirohito to suggest that he was too stupid to realize what they were doing. While he preferred to work behind the scenes (as he did in other matters, no doubt to help preserve his mystique as God), evidence strongly suggests that not only was he aware of what Japan was doing, but he was the mastermind behind the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the overall war strategy.

On December 31st 1947, during his war crimes trial, General Hideki Tōjō said, “I further wish to add that there is no Japanese subject who could go against the will of His Majesty, more particularly among high officials of the Japanese government or of Japan.”

The decision to overlook the obvious guilt of Emperor Hirohito was made by General Douglas MacArthur, who “saw the Emperor as a symbol of the continuity and cohesion of the Japanese people.

That's the official, palatable view, but it is also hogwash. Had Hitler not blown his brains out, he would have been a logical choice—indeed, the only obvious choice—to serve as a symbol of the continuity and cohesion of the German people, yet we would have fried him anyway. So screw the continuity and cohesion BS. Any American who would have suggested keeping Hitler in power would have been viewed as being stark raving mad. Hitler had to go, no question about it.

So why didn't Hirohito? With a mountain of evidence indicating he was responsible for the war and its almost endless war crimes (what Japan did during that time is essentially a series of war crimes), why was he not even put on trial as a suspected war criminal? For part of the answer to that, look at the fanatically nutty things Japanese soldiers did during World War 2. The well-known kamikaze suicide pilots are just the tip of the iceberg. Unless you had superb teachers, you probably heard little or nothing about literally tens of millions of other war crimes, some of which I mentioned in another article on Japanese war crimes and yet another posting.

If you read the first article, you'll learn how the Japanese slaughtered up to 30 million civilians, including women and children, who were often raped before being murdered. Japanese soldiers even raped girls who had not yet reached the age of puberty, in addition to elderly women, such as the one pictured who was speared through her vagina after the Jap had his way with her.

Is that all? Hardly! The Japanese enslaved millions of people, tortured POWs (and immensely enjoyed it), buried people alive, conducted sick medical tests in which humans were used as experimental rats, beheaded so many people they made al Qaeda seem like boy scouts, and engaged in cannibalism—which even al Qaeda would not stomach. The Japanese were like a bizarre amalgamation of al Qaeda on steroids mixed in with child molesters, rapists, sociopaths, serial killers, and mass murderers, multiplied by hundreds of thousands.

Why were Japanese soldiers so cruel? In a war documentary, Ghosts of Bataan, a Japanese soldier explained:

“The Japanese soldier himself was not treated as a human being, but as a tool of the Emperor. In the Navy, we had our backsides beaten with a baseball bat, and faces beaten. The Japanese soldiers and sailors were not treated with respect as human beings, so how could they be expected to respect the POWs or treat them differently? The Japanese military taught men that violence was the way to impress one's will. The enlisted men in turn vented their aggression against the POWs. The POWs were looked at as the lowest form of life, and could be dealt with as one pleased.” (emphasis added)

One need only look at today's Japanese people, or even the Japanese people shortly after the war ended, to realize that they are not inherently evil people. Every culture has its bad apples, but it took more than a few isolated nuts here and there to leave Hitler in the dust when it came to killing people … and raping women and girls, torturing POWs, and committing so many war crimes they blend together in a sea of evil that comprise the second greatest killing spree in history.

And ol' Emperor Hirohito didn't have a clue as to what was going on.


Japanese scientists worked during World War 2 to develop an atomic bomb. Had they succeeded, you can bet your last dollar Japan would have used it on us and other countries. Hirohito was well aware of this research, as he was of the extensive research Japan conducted in chemical and biological warfare.

Lt. Col. Murray Saunders, a physician who was General MacArthur's germ warfare investigator, said that “Hirohito condoned deadly World War II biological experiments performed on captured Americans” in which they were injected with anthrax, plague, and typhus.

On August 1st 1944, the Japanese War Ministry ordered “the disposal and execution of all Allied prisoners of war, numbering over 100,000, if an invasion of the Japanese mainland took place.” The War Ministry would never have ordered such a heinous war crime without consent of the Emperor, whose records were incinerated at the end of the war in an attempt to hide his involvement. How convenient.

He who has nothing to hide, hides nothing.

Logic 101

The fact that “the Japanese destroyed most of their military records at the time of their surrender” is itself strong evidence of war crimes because evidence is not necessarily incriminating; it can also be exonerating. However, only imbeciles destroy evidence that could exonerate them from crimes, while people cognizant of their guilt have obvious reasons to destroy incriminating evidence.

General MacArthur sought Hirohito's support in the fight against Communism, but given their unconditional surrender, any leader with a pulse and a brain would have done what American leaders wanted. So what's the real reason MacArthur decided that Hirohito should get off scot-free?

Had we executed their beloved Sun God Emperor, Japanese people would have gone nuts and become ungovernable. Their placid cooperation would have turned into an endless series of revengeful acts. Just look at the problems we now have fighting a relatively small number of terrorists around the world and imagine how much worse it would be fighting over 70 million people fanatically devoted to their Emperor.

“Emperor Hirohito encourages suicide [of civilians on Saipan] over capture [by American troops].”
— Excerpt from the documentary Pacific War in Color, The Enemy Underground (S1 Ep4; first aired 7-15-2018)

When U.S. leaders contemplated the invasion of Japan near the end of World War 2, one of President Truman's primary reasons for choosing to use atomic bombs was because the fierce fight-to-the-death resistance (part of Japanese culture at that time) was expected to result in a savage bloodbath in which millions of Japanese soldiers and civilians would have died, in addition to an estimated 1.6 million U.S. casualties, including 380,000 dead.

bushido code of honor
The bushido code of honor included seven virtues (rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, loyalty) and three associated virtues (filial piety, wisdom, care for the aged).

That sounds wonderful, but Japanese leaders twisted the meaning of the code to suit their militaristic and barbaric ends. For example, how is it honorable to invade innocent nations and kill, brutalize, and enslave their people? How does “care for the agedcomport with gang-raping grandmothers and then spearing their vaginas?

What Japanese soldiers did manifested shocking racism and nationalism: honor, respect, and care for their aged while figuratively and sometimes literally screwing the aged in other nations. This debasement of the code of honor made it closer to the Charles Manson code of conduct that encouraged bizarre brutality by excusing it with insane rationalization.

The Japanese had a deeply ingrained code of bushido—“the way of the warrior”—which insured that they “were determined to fight a final Armageddon battle in the homeland against an Allied invasion.” “The Japanese cabinet had approved a measure extending the draft to include men from ages 15 to 60 and women from 17 to 45,” which would have provided an additional 28 million official combatants in addition to the unofficial but still deadly millions of others.

If the United States were invaded, I wouldn't need a military uniform on my back to fight in its defense, and you'd probably feel the same about your country. Considering the Japanese fanaticism and willingness to die for their beloved Emperor, an invasion of Japan would have been a massacre for them and us, killing considerably more people than the atomic bombs. Their military leaders wanted to fight to the death, and many of their civilians would have willingly joined them, but they stopped fighting as soon as their Emperor told them to stop. Only one man had that power: Hirohito. He was unquestionably the off switch for the war, proving his immense power. In the many preceding years during which Japan was busy killing, raping, destroying property, and stealing on a monumental scale, how many times did Hirohito bother to call for an end to the carnage?

Zero! Anyone who needs more proof that Hirohito was a war criminal should spend time investigating his culpability, which is undeniable. Anyone who needs still more proof needs a brain transplant, period. As Max Hastings correctly concluded in How Hirohito Escaped the Hangman's Noose, “Hirohito's guilt is hard to dispute.” He added, “Those responsible for the appalling deeds of [Japan's] biological warfare Unit 731 were spared because the United States wanted their expertise, just as it exploited Nazi intelligence chiefs and rocket scientists.”

Another war criminal who escaped justice

Here is a tidbit of history you probably never learned in high school or college: the Nuremberg trials, although extensive, were purposely limited in scope because President Truman was more interested in recruiting the Germans as allies in opposing the Soviet Union. In fact, some Germans who should have been executed were given rock-star treatment, such as Dr. Wernher von Braun, a member of the SS and Nazi Party who was swiped by the American Army and ultimately put to work at NASA.

Von Braun engineered the German V-2 rockets that indiscriminately killed many men, women, and children. The “V” was an abbreviation for “Vengeance Weapon,” because Hitler used them more to spitefully seek vengeance than to gain any appreciable military advantage. Von Braun knew that slave labor was used to construct his weapons; in fact, “he personally picked labor slaves from the Buchenwald concentration camp.” Guy Morand, a French resistance fighter imprisoned in Dora, testified that he was repeatedly flogged on the orders of von Braun, who evidently thought the punishment was not sufficiently cruel, so he ordered him to be thrashed again, but more severely.

Although von Braun had the blood of many people on his hands, our leaders swept his past under the rug so that he could help us develop rockets that were increasingly vital to national defense. Von Braun was turned from one of the most dangerous cogs in Hitler's war machine into a national asset for the United States. To put it succinctly, von Braun's brain saved his ass. He was viewed as being not expendable, so he never got the noose around his neck that he deserved.

On August 12th 1945, “the Emperor informed the imperial family of his decision to surrender. One of his uncles, Prince Asaka, then asked whether the war would be continued if the kokutai could not be preserved. Hirohito simply replied 'of course.'”

This willingness to doom potentially millions of Japanese to die to save his sham royal family (see my article on The bloody roots of royal power) is typical of Hirohito. He claimed to be a direct descendant of the Sun God and thought that preserving this obvious fantasy was more important than countless millions of lives. When you think you're God and your people and others are dirt, killing them to save yourself is one of the entitlements of being a divinity. One of the great mysteries of all time is how the smart Japanese people accepted this nonsense and were so willing to kill and brutalize others to please their Emperor.

An article about Hirohito in the May 21st 1945 issue of Time magazine reported, “As custom decreed, he chose a name for his reign. It was Showa, or Enlightened Peace.” (The millions of Chinese and other Asians who were killed by Hirohito's soldiers would have bristled at that: Enlightened? Ha! Peace? Absurd!) They added, that “did not deter him from sanctifying the invasion of Manchuria in 1931, the invasion of North China in 1937, the blow at Pearl Harbor in 1941.”

That article, published about three months before the end of the war, also discussed what to do with Hirohito:

“Discussion among the Allies, as they consider what to do with their inevitable victory over Japan, centers on Hirohito. In the process of liquidating Japanese militarism, must Hirohito, too, be liquidated? [...] There is still no Allied unanimity on what to do with the Emperor. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Government has made no bones about its wishes. It wants to dispose of Hirohito as Asia's War Criminal No.1. Acting Premier T. V. Soong has publicly hoped for the Emperor's destruction by U.S. bombers—'that would make one less embarrassing question to deal with later.' Last week the Chungking press called for Hirohito's trial, execution and the public display of his body 'on Sun Yat-sen Road near Nanking.'”

Why Nanking? That was where Japanese soldiers murdered hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers and raped up to 80,000 women, children, and even infants; these atrocities are now referred to as The Nanking Massacre.

WARNING! The following section contains shocking descriptions of war crimes. If you have a weak stomach, get a bucket ready.

From the Wikipedia:

“A large portion of these rapes were systematized in a process where soldiers would search door-to-door for young girls, with many women taken captive and gang raped. The women were often killed immediately after the rape, often through explicit mutilation or by stabbing a bayonet, long stick of bamboo, or other objects into the vagina.” (I posted a picture of this in another article.)

“There are also accounts of Japanese troops forcing families to commit acts of incest. Sons were forced to rape their mothers, fathers were forced to rape daughters. One pregnant woman who was gang-raped by Japanese soldiers gave birth only a few hours later. Monks who had declared a life of celibacy were also forced to rape women.”

“Mrs. Ha asked them why they killed her husband and they shot her. Mrs. Hsia was dragged out from under a table in the guest hall where she had tried to hide with her 1 year old baby. After being stripped and raped by one or more men, she was bayoneted in the chest, and then had a bottle thrust into her vagina. The baby was killed with a bayonet. Some soldiers then went to the next room, where Mrs. Hsia's parents, aged 76 and 74, and her two daughters aged 16 and 14. They were about to rape the girls when the grandmother tried to protect them. The soldiers killed her with a revolver. The grandfather grasped the body of his wife and was killed. The two girls were then stripped, the elder being raped by 2–3 men, and the younger by 3. The older girl was stabbed afterwards and a cane was rammed in her vagina. The younger girl was bayoneted also but was spared the horrible treatment that had been meted out to her sister and mother. The soldiers then bayoneted another sister of between 7–8, who was also in the room. The last murders in the house were of Ha's two children, aged 4 and 2 respectively. The older was bayoneted and the younger split down through the head with a sword.”

“Pregnant women were a target of murder, as they would often be bayoneted in the stomach, sometimes after rape. Tang Junshan, survivor and witness to one of the Japanese army’s systematic mass killings, testified:”

“The seventh and last person in the first row was a pregnant woman. The soldier thought he might as well rape her before killing her, so he pulled her out of the group to a spot about ten meters away. As he was trying to rape her, the woman resisted fiercely ... The soldier abruptly stabbed her in the belly with a bayonet. She gave a final scream as her intestines spilled out. Then the soldier stabbed the fetus, with its umbilical cord clearly visible, and tossed it aside.”

“Japanese troops gathered 1300 Chinese soldiers and civilians at Taiping Gate and killed them. The victims were blown up with landmines, then doused with petrol before being set on fire. Those that were left alive afterward were killed with bayonets.”

After Japanese soldiers tied the hands together of an estimated 57,500 Chinese POWs, they were divided into four columns and shot. “Unable to escape, the POWs could only scream and thrash in desperation. It took an hour for the sounds of death to stop, and even longer for the Japanese to bayonet each individual. Most were dumped into the Yangtze [River].” This was termed the Straw String Gorge Massacre.

“If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

For years, I've wondered why some Chinese seem to dislike Americans even though we saved them during World War 2. I've now found one answer: because we allowed Hirohito to get away not just with murder, but with mass murder of tens of millions of Chinese and other Asians, and myriad other war crimes, such as the rapes mentioned above.

In August 1937, “Hirohito had personally ratified his army's proposition to remove the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners. This directive also advised staff officers to stop using the term 'prisoner of war.'” That alone should have earned Hirohito a hangman's noose or a bullet through his cold little heart.

American model
If you are an American who has difficulty connecting with the horror of what Japanese soldiers did to Chinese and other Asian women, image how furious you would be if they raped the same number of American women, including infants, children, and grandmothers. Could the rocks in General MacArthur's head have placated your desire for revenge and justice?

One of my tools for understanding others is to put myself in their shoes, so let's do that. Imagine that Hirohito's soldiers invaded the U.S. mainland and killed tens of millions of Americans in typical Japanese fashion: some by bombs, many by shooting, and others by being buried alive or decapitation by machetes. Now imagine they destroyed countless homes and businesses along with much of our infrastructure, and stole so much food that many Americans died of starvation. Then consider the joy the Japanese obtained from terrorizing citizens with brutal crimes that ranged from arson to raping infants, children, and women, with many victims being mutilated by having canes speared into their vaginas. Now imagine that China was the supreme power in World War 2 and protected Hirohito; wouldn't it be perfectly understandable for us to be livid with them for shielding that war criminal from justice?

Yes, of course. Not only did we not prosecute him, but President Ford warmly welcomed him during a visit to The White House for a state dinner on October 2nd 1975. Since the Japanese people are not inherently evil, where did their World War 2-era evil come from? Obviously from their leadership, and Hirohito was their supreme leader. Imagine how justifiably incensed Jewish people would be if Ford invited Hitler (had he survived, obviously) to The White House? Hitler is now virtually synonymous with war crimes, but Hirohito was the head of a nation that left Germany in the dust in terms of numbers of war crimes and depravity that exceeded what German soldiers did, as I discussed in another article on Japanese war crimes.

Japanese Prince Konoe called Hirohito “the major war criminal.” So why didn't MacArthur prosecute him? Did he have a reason in addition to his concern over their foreseeable fierce resistance?

Yes. Asian countries under Japanese control were combed for treasure and plundered on a monumental scale in a secret Japanese project called “Golden Lily” (see Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold). Ann Seymour suggested that Japan's miraculous recovery after World War 2 ended was aided by Golden Lily bounty that also was used by Hirohito to buy the cooperation of (bribe) MacArthur, who reportedly lived a life of luxury after his retirement that was inconsistent with his comparatively meager Army salary.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, was convened after the war ended to prosecute Japanese leaders for their war crimes. An IMTFE judge, Justice Webb, “took issue with Emperor Hirohito's legal status. 'The suggestion that the Emperor was bound to act on advice is contrary to the evidence.' Webb indicated that Hirohito bore responsibility as a Constitutional Monarch who accepted 'ministerial and other advice for war' and that 'no ruler can commit the crime of launching aggressive war and then validly claim to be excused for doing so.'

Justice Henri Bernard pointed out that “Japan's declaration of war 'had a principal author [Hirohito] who escaped all prosecution and of whom in any case the present Defendants could only be considered as accomplices.'

Justice Jaranilla from the Philippines “disagreed with the penalties imposed by the tribunal. 'They are, in my judgment, too lenient, not exemplary and deterrent, and not commensurate with the gravity of the offence or offences committed.'” Over one million Filipinos died because of Hirohito's Japan. If they killed one million Americans and raped American children and American grandmothers (as they did to people in Asia), you can bet your last dollar that Hirohito would have swung from an American rope.

Hirohito's Japan invaded other countries to steal their natural resources and other wealth. To achieve their objectives, they used brutal forms of terrorism that would turn the stomachs of al-Qaeda terrorists, who don't rape young children and grandmothers before spearing their vaginas. Japan could have obtained what it wanted by doing as civilized countries do (by trading), but they chose the criminal approach: steal whatever you want and bash in the skulls of anyone who dares resist. Thus, Hirohito was the head of one of the most massive criminal enterprises in history—one whose barbarity will likely never be equaled.

If Hirohito were as ethical as his supporters think, he—horrified by what Japanese war criminals did—would have led the push to punish them. But he didn't, did he?

Shattering the myth that Hirohito wanted peace

During the Imperial Conference on December 1st 1941, Prime Minister General Tōjō said, “At this moment our Empire stands at the threshold of glory or oblivion. We tremble with fear in the Presence of His Majesty. We subjects are keenly aware of the great responsibilities we must assume from this point on. Now that His Majesty has reached a decision to commence hostilities, we must all strive to repay our obligations to him, bring the Government and the military ever closer together, resolve that the nation united will go on to victory, make an all-out effort to achieve our war aims, and set His Majesty's mind at ease. I now adjourn the meeting.”

During that era, the Japanese were fanatically devoted to “His Majesty” Emperor Hirohito, whom they viewed as a God. If Hirohito truly opposed the war Tōjō sought, the Emperor could have spoken against it. Had Tōjō not backed down, God Hirohito could have told his people to kill that blood-thirsty savage, sacrificing one rotten life so millions of innocent people could live in peace and harmony—what Hirohito's defenders claim he wanted. But of course Hirohito didn't oppose war; as Tōjō said, “His Majesty has reached a decision to commence hostilities.” Films show Hirohito leading military ceremonies that were obviously all about aggression, not peace.

Emperor Hirohito during an Army inspection 8-1-1938
Emperor Hirohito “during an Army inspection in August 1938.” Note his military uniform and salute that shows him actively participating in—NOT PROTESTING—the war that had already butchered many innocent people, such as those who were raped and killed during The Nanking Massacre. “Over ten million Chinese died from the effects of the war that began in 1937, with some estimates of actual deaths running twice as high.
Emperor Hirohito December 7 1941
Emperor Hirohito in his military uniform on December 7th 1941. (Remember Pearl Harbor?) Had he opposed the war, Hirohito could have worn civilian clothing that day instead of proudly posing with his family. Leaders who want peace do not pose in military uniforms that send a strong signal of support for war. The timing and nature of this photo indicate that not only did Hirohito support war, but he was proud of the past and current massacres—so proud that he posed with his family, some of whom are wearing military-like garb.

The $100,000 challenge: The myth of Hirohito's innocence is utterly laughable. If you don't mind me laughing at you, present evidence (not just wishful thinking, as Hirohito's apologists do) that he was an innocent dupe who had no responsibility for the war, and hence no responsibility for its many war crimes. To do that, you will need to prove how he had the power to end the war (which he did), but no equivalent earlier power, which clearly was used to initiate and sustain the war.

The victims were people, not just statistics

Melinda Gates said that African mothers care just as much about their children as she does about her kids. That's obviously and universally true, so when thinking about the savage war crimes Japan committed against millions of Chinese and other Asians, don't think of them as just statistics.

No one can begin to comprehend the full horror of every Japanese war crime, so try imagining just one: imagine that it was not some nameless, faceless Chinese girl being gang-raped by Japanese soldiers before they bashed her skull in with a rifle butt; imagine it was your sister, and you couldn't help her because they cut your arms off with machetes, leaving you to bleed to death. Or imagine that they forced you to rape your sister or mother.

Incidentally, if that were you bleeding to death, would you think it is too harsh to call such war criminals “Japs”? The fools at Media Matters think so. Now why would they be so eager to protect war criminals who butchered so many people?

Jap poster from US government 1944
Even the U.S. government called them “Japs”

“It is clear that there are three conditions beyond retention of the Emperor that the military would insist upon: The first of these is no occupation [of Japan]. The second of these is that the Japanese Army would be responsible for demobilization. Third, the Japanese Army would be responsible for war crimes trials. Can you imagine?
— Dr. Waldo Heinrichs, author of Threshold of War, discussing the terms of surrender sought by Japan

Gee whiz, why not let mass murderers and rapists judge themselves? Why not let students grade their own papers? The Japanese military committed innumerable war crimes, such as mass murder, rape, enslavement, and forcing family members to commit incest.

And these sickos wanted to judge themselves? Nuts. They made Charles Manson seem like an amateur. What Manson's followers did in slaughtering actress Sharon Tate (then 8½ months pregnant) and others is one of the most notorious crimes in American history because it was shockingly depraved. Tate was stabbed 16 times, including in her abdomen, killing her baby. The Manson gang tortured and killed a guest of Tate, 25-year-old coffee heiress Abigail Folger, who was slashed and stabbed 28 times. The following night they murdered retail store owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. As savage as these crimes were, the Japanese did much more … and they wanted to judge themselves?

Reading & video list:

A note to Hirohito apologists & war crimes deniers

Read this entire article and the sources I linked to, in addition to my reply to the person who posted Comment #158 (below). The evidence against Hirohito is overwhelming, as is the evidence for countless atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers and sailors before and during World War 2.

I understand why some of you attempt to minimize the extent of those war crimes, or to deny that Hirohito had anything to do with them, because I once was an apologist blind to the wrongs committed by my country, which I thought could do no wrong. Well, I was wrong, and I admit it: the United States has indeed committed various wrongs, although I know of nothing that even begins to compare with what Japan did in the 1930s and 1940s.

No person or country is perfect; we all have imperfections, and failing to acknowledge them and correct those shortcomings is itself another imperfection that others can usually see right through, so IMHO you are wasting your time and debasing yourselves by denying the undeniable. Furthermore, any violent or otherwise thuggish actions you take in defense of Hirohito will only succeed in further tarnishing his reputation.

I have Japanese friends and I certainly do not harbor any animosity to the Japanese people in general, whom I respect and admire, but anyone who cares about justice and the Golden Rule ethic of reciprocity should be incensed by the war crimes documented above and the millions I don't have time to mention.

The primary function of courts is to mitigate the innate desire for people to seek revenge against those who harmed others, but when obvious criminals go free—such as Hirohito—that desire does not dissipate. Instead, it often morphs into a desire, as in this case, to punish Hirohito and his legacy by refusing to participate in the MacArthur whitewash of the Emperor's war crimes.

Shaming for misdeeds is a powerful deterrent that civil societies use to deter and punish misconduct, but the deterrence value of that was decimated by the rocks in MacArthur's head that allowed Hirohito to get off scot-free, thus sending a signal to future leaders that one can literally get away with murder if you have enough wealth, connections, and information to use as a quid pro quo for immunity from prosecution. As I watch the endless parade of tyrants that have plagued the free world after World War 2, I can't help but wonder if MacArthur contributed to their intransigence by giving them a playbook for escaping justice.

Random thought: The history of U.S.-Japanese relations provides a heartwarming example of how archenemies can become close allies and friends.

Why I discussed Japanese war crimes

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

Comments (7)

post commentPost a comment or subscribe to my blog

Comment #375 by Christopher Yeniver
September 12 2018 12:21:27 AM

A Hirohito and Pu-yi union would be better for the world than communism. Same in Europe. There is, and was, no talk of monarchy, just ideologues on both ends and it ended up destroying people closer to Western Civilization and spreading the ideology that killed way more in peace, communism.

Comment #374 by james vichai
August 18 2018 07:46:32 AM


Interesting article, I read your article and also visited Nanjing museum, the real-life must be horrible as hell if we are witnessing the Japanese crimes. The worse is that the war crimes are alive and continuing to do so for a long time. But why the educated people around the world are so coward without big change. The evils men and women that included the citizens are immoral and out of kindness and compassion, that is why we train the child to learn first the kindness and compassion to others. But however, the child lost it when they grew up in the material world.

Comment #369 by John Paul Parks
Contact the commenter via MySpamSponge: shirtless Contact this person via MySpamSponge
April 18 2017 10:03:45 AM

Emperor was a war criminal

The best evidence that the Jap Emperor was a war criminal is that, despite two atomic bombs, his fanatical subjects were not willing to surrender. Then the Jap Emperor came on the radio, and he told them to surrender. They did. He obviously had power and influence over his people. Given that influence and power, where was he on December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor?

Comment #368 by Anonymous
March 25 2017 09:55:15 PM

It is so obvious that Hirohito was guilty as hell, and MacArthur, in addition to being a prima donna, was also guilty of the biggest coverup in human history.

I believe he cut a deal with Hirohito. Surrender (which was anathema to the Japanese) and we will spare your life. Thus the costly invasion was avoided, and MacArthur ruled the Japanese like a king during the occupation.

After reading your article, I now also believe that your are right. It is quite plausible that a quid pro quo was agreed to between Hirohito and MacArthur. Surrender in return for plundered wealth.

Explain all this to the powerless millions who suffered and died because of this evil prick. I imagine the souls of those who died rolling over in their graves at how this bastard was welcomed at the White House. Shame on those responsible.

Comment #236 by Kan LiPun Ong
August 22 2012 09:38:42 PM

MacArthur's Biggest Sin

MacArthur's biggest sin was allowing the greatest war criminal in history to go scot-free. Millions of souls cannot rest in peace because of this.

REPLY FROM KEVIN PEZZI: I completely agree with you. That's why I devoted so much time to this matter. Thank you for caring about justice.

Comment #196 by Reyes
January 12 2012 09:53:50 AM


Great and factual article. Must be that although he might have deserved to be hanged for his war crimes, the US must have assessed that he was a bargaining tool and it was better to keep him alive than death, in order to steer Japan out of their war mentality and into an alliance with the US to contain Communism, and of course to keep a stable and safe environment for a large military presence in that region of Asia.

REPLY FROM KEVIN PEZZI: You raised an excellent point. I agree, but I think that if the German people during World War II were as fanatical as the Japanese, and if Hitler may have served as a useful tool to control them (had he lived, of course), would we have permitted him to live an unscathed life of luxury, without even slapping his wrist? I can't imagine that we would have; the consensus seemed to be that Hitler had to pay for his many crimes.

The rule of law principle that all people should be equally subject to the law suggests that Hirohito's exoneration was ethically inexcusable and reinforced the belief that big shots are often treated more leniently than Main Street folks. This double standard creates contempt for the law and lawmakers, which isn't desirable.

Comment #158 by Anonymous
Contact the commenter via MySpamSponge: iyq Contact this person via MySpamSponge
March 24 2011 02:15:12 AM

Bataan Death March

There are many examples here in the Philippines of vicious, inhumane treatment of civilians and soldiers by the Japanese. The Bataan Death March occurred here. There are many stories of ghosts and spirits associated with the Japanese around here. Some spirits are said to guard huge caches of gold hidden by the Japanese.

REPLY FROM KEVIN PEZZI: Some Japanese claim the atrocities never occurred or were exaggerated, which is preposterous. It definitely occurred, which is substantiated by photographic (including film) evidence and the testimony of many survivors. If anything, the Japanese war crimes are greatly underreported because many victims were killed with no one around them left alive to later report what happened.

When I was an ER resident years ago, I was working one particularly bloody weekend in which a record was set for the most murders in that city in any weekend period in its history. I can't recall the exact number of murders, but it was something like 52. The major newspaper in that metro area ran a story about this murder spree, summarizing the case of each of the victims. One problem, though. They'd missed a few. While reading the article, I thought of the patients I'd had who were murdered, but were not mentioned in the article. Clearly, no one could keep up with the carnage—not even the newspaper at a time when we were not at war. Imagine how much more difficult it must have been in the chaos of the savage Japanese invasion to know about every war crime they committed; it was impossible.

post commentPost a comment or subscribe to my blog