From 1936 when it moved toward closer relations with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy to 1945, When it announced it's surrender, Japan was a major player in World War II. They won dramatic victories across South East Asia and the South Pacific as well as Eastern India and Indonesia. The discipline and skill of their military made them a valuable asset to the axis powers. For centuries the emperor of Japan had been a major figurehead both spiritually and culturally and in the WW2 years he was still very important to most Japanese. Thought to be the descendant of a god and to hold the divine right to rule Japan, the emperor had a large amount of followers. The devotion of the Japanese people to their emperor and their country was a dominant theme in WW2 Japan.
In order to persuade the military who were running Japan to join the war, military leaders had to persuade the emperor Hirohito to support their plans. Because he had such importance to the Japanese, his opinions greatly affected the decisions of the rulers. After the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the emperor had to acknowledge the defeat of Japan, in order for the Japanese to surrender. However, the Americans did not have the emperor Hirohito himself sign the papers of surrender in order for him to save his dignity and keep the respect of the Japanese people.
The bravery the Japanese army showed in battle was largely in loyalty to the emperor and the country. The kamikaze pilots who crashed their planes and themselves into enemy ships and bases sacrificed their lives because they had been taught that the honor of their country was more important than their lives. This kind of loyalty was present in many soldiers and pilots in the Japanese military as well as ordinary citizens. When Tokyo was bombed on April 18,1942 during the Jimmy Doolittle Raid, the emperor helped keep the Country united.
After WW2, the U.S. recognized the importance of the emperor and the power he had over the country...
Cited: "Hirohito." www.ramsov.nu (11 January 2004)
"Militarsm and WW2." Japan Guide (11 January 2004)
"Japan." World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. World Book, 2002 ed.
"World War II" World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. World Book, 2002 ed.
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