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June 01, 2008

Our Sincere Desire

Until recently, I'd never read Emperor Hirohito's 1945 speech announcing Japan's surrender.

Why did Hirohito say Japan had gone to war? We'd always thought it was because they were trying to conquer the world, but it turns out they were just trying to help people:

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which we lay close to the heart...

[W]e declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to insure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement...

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

Remember that, according to the BBC, the actual motivations of leaders are always exactly the same as their stated motivations. So now that we know what Japan was trying to do, I hope we can tone down the criticism.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at June 1, 2008 08:21 PM

Thanks for this for now I can rest easy. We obliterated Iraq because they had WMD. Then we obliterated Iraq because Sadam was a mean man. Then we obliterated Iraq because we wanted them to have the same kind of democracy (liberation) we don’t have. Perhaps we have at least succeeded in the last case. I left out one, whoops. We obliterated Iraq because if we didn’t obliterate them over there we would have to fight them in San Francisco. There may be others (there were so many) but these are the reasons I recall. Also we have a neat head-start with Iran – we will obliterate Iran because they have WMD. We will obliterate Iran because they are killing Americans. More to follow…

Posted by: Rob Payne at June 2, 2008 12:01 AM

You're being unfair to the Beeb's Boaden. She did not say that government's statements about their own motivations are always true. She rested her confidence in the truthfulness of Bush's and Blair's claims on the fact that they had made them many times. If Hirohito only said that once, he might have been pulling our legs.

It would have been helpful, though, if Ms. Boaden had been more specific. I would like to know how many times such a statement must be made before I can rely on it. Otherwise I may have to think for myself, which I find fatiguing.

Posted by: Maud at June 2, 2008 02:49 AM

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Posted by: Mike at June 2, 2008 07:51 AM

To be fair, Mike, Emperor Hirohito was Yellow.

Alas, if Yellow People try to take up the White Man's Burden, you vaporize two hundred thousand of them with a couple Nukes to put them in their place.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at June 2, 2008 10:15 AM

The burden of empire knows no colour, En Ming, but for sure the White burden is 'way heavier than that of others, which is why we have the right to drop bombs on people with impunity to lighten the load a bit.

Posted by: Mike at June 2, 2008 11:55 AM

Geez, where were you 63 years ago? I stopped shaking my fist impotently at Japan a long time ago.

Posted by: Quicksand at June 2, 2008 05:04 PM