September 1945 in Japan

Gen. Bonner Fellers - Chief of Staff

Gen. Bonner Fellers – Chief of Staff

Soon after the official surrender of Japan, General MacArthur moved his headquarters into the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo. At noon, 8 September 1945, on the terrace of the U.S. Embassy, he met an honor guard from the 1st Calvary Division; they held the Stars and Stripes that had flown over the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on 7 December 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day. As the red, white and blue began to rise… MacArthur said, “General Eichelberger, have our country’s flag unfurled and in Tokyo’s sun let it wave its full glory as a symbol of hope for the oppressed and as a harbinger of victory for the right.”

Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo

Immediately after the ceremony, Major Paul Kraus and his MPs and a throng of reporters, (including George Jones of the New York Times) surrounded the home of Hideki Tojo. The general shot himself in the chest before anyone could enter his office. The bullet missed his heart. At the 48th Evacuation Hospital, he told Gen. Eichelberger, “I am sorry to have given General Eichelberger so much trouble.” The general asked, “Do you mean tonight or the last few years?” The answer was, “Tonight. I want General Eichelberger to have my new saber.”

The night before Prince Konoye was to be sent to Sugamo Prison, he drank poison and died. (I personally feel that the prince might have been acquitted of war criminal charges at the trials. He had tried for years to bring peace, his mistake being having chosen the Soviets as mediators and Stalin blocked him at every step.)

Prince Konoye

Prince Konoye

Prince Konoye - 3 times Premier of Japan lies dead

Prince Konoye – 3 times Premier of Japan lies dead

In reply of Allied and liberated Japanese press opinions of the Emperor, MacArthur was determined not to humiliate him: “To do so,” the general said, “would be to outrage the feelings of the Japanese people and make a martyr of the Emperor in their eyes.” As a student of Asian cultures, he proved to be correct. It would take two weeks, but the Emperor requested an interview with the general himself.

His Majesty arrived in his ancient limousine with Grand Chamberlain Fujita and was met with a salute from General Bonner F. Fellers. When Fellers’ hand dropped, the Emperor grabbed it. An interpreter quickly explained that the Emperor was happy to see him. Fellers replied, “I am honored to meet you. Come in and meet General MacArthur.” Nervously, Hirohito allowed himself to be escorted up the staircase to the general’s office. Trying to ease the tension, MacArthur told him he had been presented to his father, Emperor Taisho, after the Russian-Japanese War and offered Hirohito an American cigarette. The Emperor’s hand shook as it was lit and the general then dismissed everyone except the interpreter. The conversation before an open fire was observed, unknowingly, by Mrs. MacArthur and their son, Arthur who hid behind the long red drapes.

MacArthur and Hirohito meeting

MacArthur and Hirohito meeting

The emperor had been forewarned not to assume any responsibility for the war, but he did just that.”I come to you, General MacArthur, to offer myself to the judgement of the powers you represent as the one to bear sole responsibility for every political and military decision made and action taken by my people in the conduct of this war.”

MacArthur freely admitted being moved “to the marrow of my bones. He was an Emperor by inherent birth, but in that instant I knew I faced the First Gentleman of Japan in his own right.”

The Japanese acknowledged, without reservations, the temporal power of the current shogun, but revered what was eternal. (The Imperial Palace)

Resources: U.S. Signal Corps; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; Gene Slover’s US Navy Papers; historyinanhour.com

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on April 25, 2013, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. It’s also a pleasure to visit your blog.It learns me every time again things i don’t know.

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  2. missing words: “Not” before Macarthur’s “to do so” and
    “to the participants” after unknowingly (Macarthur’s son and wife knew they were eavesdropping).

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  3. Last July, we experienced the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX. Very moving. I had uncles and cousins who had been in combat in those campaigns and this was very emotional for me. Freedom isn’t free and we have so much to be thankful for to the men and women who have paid the price.

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  4. The meeting between MacArthur and the Emperor sounds gentlemanly and honorable. That sounds strange. I guess I’m just moved by the idea of a proud man (the Emporer), looking another proud man (the General) in the eyes, and taking responsibility for the atrocities his country committed. I can’t imagine anything like that happening in today’s world where manners and customs and for that matter, honor, seem to hold little value. Wonderful piece of writing.

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    • Thank you for the compliment, but the credit belongs to both the general and the Emperor. Each holding on to the standards to which they were raised brought about this unique example of the term ‘gentleman’ – irregardless of culture or nationality. (No – I can not see something like this ever taking place in our current society.)

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  5. Hi, I’ve nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. If time allows, please find your link and the rules at http://livingwithmyancestors.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/my-very-first-blog-award/

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    • I am so sorry Linda, but I can Not accept. I sincerely hope you will not take offense. I just feel that this site was started as a tribute to my father, the 11th Airborne Division and it grew into the entire Pacific War and will eventually include the Korean War. The awards, to me, are indeed an honor, but also chain letters and I just don’t think they belong here. Thank you again for thinking of me – I hope this won’t affect our past friendship.

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  6. Learn so much from these posts

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  7. This is new to me too. I love the personal side of it. Very few of the prison guards killed themselves at the end of the war, but interestingly those who did were the ones who had gained the respect not the hatred of the prisoners. This is only hearsay from my father. [Off topic too – my uncle died in Canada, where he had a small role in Canadian WWII aviation history, I have found Pierre’s blog.]

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  8. It’s amazing to me all that has to be done once the fighting actually stops.

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  9. Thanks for visiting my blog and thanks for the information in this post; I was unaware of most of it.

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    • It was my pleasure going to your site. I try to find facts that I was never taught in school and am finding out, no one else was taught them either – I love it. Actually, it’s a shame that they take so long to open the Archives, we have to learn in bits and pieces.

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  10. gpcox – your dedication to telling the story accurately and the research necessary to do so is formidable. Thank you for your continued endeavors..

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  11. As always, a great read. Thank you.

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  12. It would be extremely interesting to find out who the interpreter was… Such a key meeting of the two most powerful men in the Pacific Theater at that time in the interest of peace… The interpreter(s) had to be at their best. If one interpreter was of the 8th US Army, hopefully he was Kibei. Even then, the kibei knew exactly who the Emperor was culturally. I wonder what was going through his mind. 🙂

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    • It would be great to find out, I’ll check my stuff again, but I don’t think it was ever mentioned. As to that William Carlisle – I got an address, so I’ll send a note of inquiry. (Goodness, I’m just not used to waiting for snail mail anymore, but I guess I’ll be forced to.)

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    • My mistake Koji, the interpreter used was MacArthur’s official interpreter and aide-de-camp, Faubion Bowers (1917-1999)

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      • It is fascinating Mr. Bowers was tapped to be his official interpreter. Your information fascinated me so that I did a brief research on him. It appears that while he taught at a Japanese University, his gift of language must be in-bred as he trained at the same MIS schools. It is no secret MacArthur did not fully trust the Nisei interpreters but whatever the case, it appears Mr. Bowers got the job done. Bowers did serve in ATIS.

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        • It’s good to hear when I’ve sparked someone’s interest – of course you already had an interest in MISers, but here you learned of another one. Now that my blog is in Japan, I’m getting close to doing the posts on the intelligence used during the war and – most certainly – the MISers are the largest part.

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  13. Good post – nice read – I cannot begin to imagine how brave it must be to drink poison!

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  14. Wonderful piece. Thanks for posting.

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  15. What an amazing time in our world history.

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  16. Pierre Lagacé

    Knew little about this.
    Thanks.

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    • I’m always learning from your site, so it’s about time. [ off topic – Palm Beach Post obituary, Thursday, April 18, 2013 Seymour Rosing, 96, died. He was the last living test pilot for Bell Aviation. He went from an underage pilot with the Canadian Air Force… Anything to do with any of your blogs?]

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