【PART 3】 The Mystery of the Security Treaty Village (1): The Showa Emperor and the Constitution of Japan


【13】 Why was not the Imperial Palace bombed?


The U.S. thought they would definitely win the war and occupy Japan. Early on, therefore, the greatest concern for the U.S. was how to treat the Emperor once the occupation began. They wondered what way of treating the Emperor would be most beneficial to the U.S. bringing him to trial, deposing him, or some other way.

From one year after the outbreak of war in November 1942, the Department of State started to consider “the Emperor issue” specifically, and they prepared reports on whether the Emperor should be the target of attack during the war or on how to position the Emperor in occupation policies after the war.

An example of this concern is how most parts of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo were left undamaged, despite the great air raids that Tokyo suffered from during the war. It was thought that “attacks on the Imperial Palace would harm the Japanese people’s loyalty to the Showa Emperor, and have the result of encouraging the Japanese to continue the war. Attacking some important facilities around the Imperial House, such as Tokyo Station, could have an impact as great as attacks on the Imperial House without the problem resulting from attacks on the Imperial Palace.” (July 27, 1944/ Research and Analysis Branch, Office of Strategic Services)

So they had considered in great detail for a long time about what role to give to the Emperor at the official surrender ritual, the signing event on the Missouri.

In fact, the first plan was to get the Showa Emperor himself to attend the signing event, to sign the Instrument of Surrender and to announce the unconditional surrender personally. Britain, however, objected: “We will have to make Japanese military disarm smoothly through use of the Emperor to secure many U.S. and British soldiers’ lives (by avoiding unnecessary battles.) So, we doubt it is a good idea to humiliate the Emperor by making him sign.”

Therefore, they decided to change their plan and had the Emperor order government and military officials to attend the signing event and to sign the Instrument of Surrender on his behalf.