Asia

Hirohito's WW2 memoir bought by Japanese accused holocaust denier

Manuscript of the emperor's memoir Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The notes were dictated by the emperor and written down by an aide

A memoir by former Japanese Emperor Hirohito about World War Two has been bought by a Japanese surgeon accused of denying the Holocaust and the Nanjing massacre.

Known as the Emperor's Monologue, the memoir chronicles the slide into war until Japan's surrender in August 1945.

Dr Katsuya Takasu paid $275,000 (£205,000) at an auction in New York.

He has described Auschwitz as a "fabrication" but says he is against Nazism.

According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Mr Takasu last month was expelled from the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery in response to his views.

It claimed his social media posts "violate all norms of decency and reveal a person who is a racist anti-Semite and outright lover of Nazism".

Image copyright BBC Sport
Image caption Katsuya Takasu travelled from Tokyo to Brazil to reward Nigeria's Olympic footballers after the 2016 Olympics

Mr Takasu, who often appears on Japanese television, tweeted in 2015 that both the massacre in the Chinese city of Nanjing committed by Japanese troops beginning in late 1937 and the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz were "fabrications".

But he also said that there was "no doubt" that Jews were persecuted by the Nazis and told Reuters news agency on Thursday that his tweets had been intentionally misunderstood.

"If you look at all my tweets, I am clearly against Nazism. But I do highly evaluate the wonderful medicine of that era," he said.

The memoir he purchased is assumed to have been carefully written to absolve the god-like emperor of personal responsibility for the war.

He said he bought it because it carried a message to Japan's people and other royals.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Emperor Hirohito remained on the throne after WW2

The notes handwritten by an aide to the emperor are thought to have been made at the request of the US after WW2.

The original manuscript was sold by British auction house Bonhams. It had been expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000.

The recollections were dictated by the emperor to several of his aides in 1946, "with the likely encouragement of Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers", according to Bonhams.

The memoir auctioned is a handwritten copy by one of those aides, diplomat Terasaki Hidenari, who also worked as interpreter for the emperor.

Hirohito's role controversial

According to Bonhams, the two notebooks are the only full record of the emperor's spoken memoirs, "and constitute a key resource" for understanding Japanese history.

In the recollection, Emperor Hirohito describes himself as having been in a situation where he had no choice but to agree with cabinet decisions.

He says he feared that opposition to Japan's entry into the war would have plunged the country into a devastating internal conflict.

The memoir was first published in 1990 after the emperor's death the previous year.

The degree to which Emperor Hirohito was involved in decision making during the war remains controversial among historians.

Unlike many senior government figures he was not tried for war crimes after WW2 but continued to reign over his country's re-emergence as an economic powerhouse and an ally of the West throughout the Cold War.

Related Topics

More on this story