Emperor of Japan since 1926, Hirohito was known for his militaristic regime leading to World War II. After the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945, he surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur. He was son of the crown prince, Yoshihito and as 124th emperor, was the longest reigning emperor in Japanese history.
Hirohito was born in 1901. From the age of thirteen he attended a special school to prepare him for responsibilities as heir to the throne. He was the first Japanese emperor to travel extensively. He visited Britain and five European countries shortly after graduating in 1921. Upon his return to Japan, his father fell mentally ill and Hirohito ruled as regent until his father’s death in Dec. 1926.
In 1924, Hirohito married Princess Nagako Kuni and 9 years later, Prince Akihito was born.
His approval of military expansion in the 1930’s divided the country. Japan eventually entered World War II when Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbour. After Japan’s surrender to SCAP (Supreme Command Allied Powers), Emperor Hirohito gave up his rights as sovereign ruler. Thereafter, his role was seen as purely symbolic. The Constitution of 1947 states that any interference by the Emperor in matters of state requires the approval of the Cabinet. There was a serious prospect of Hirohito being tried as a war criminal but MacArthur made use of the Emperor’s authority to smooth the transition to a democratic Japan.
Hirohito died on 7 Jan. 1989. His funeral was attended by more foreign dignitaries than any other funeral in world history.