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With the editor's indulgence, I thought I might cross-post a comment I made on the review that was cross-posted from H-Diplo. [Review is here: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-War&month=1001&week=b&msg=UhaUuS39HhOtK0fqPGHFuQ&user=&pw= ] Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko write: "... why did [the US] accept the Japanese demand that the emperor must stay when it had previously ruled that out, and when indeed it had been fighting for two and a half bloody years under the banner of unconditional surrender?" In regards to this one condition for surrender, or what was often referred by the Japanese as "kokutai-goji" ("preservation of the national polity"): where in Brynes' note does the US accept Japan's condition about not taking any action that would "prejudice the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler"? The note says "the authority of the emperor" will be subject to the Allied supreme commander and, in line with democratic ideology, that the ultimate form of Japan's government will be determined by "the freely expressed will of the Japanese people"; neither of these ideas fit well with the political ideology and preferences of Japan's leadership, which held that the emperor was the supreme commander and sovereign, and thus subject to no one, and that his authority derived not from the people but from the fact that he was the "manifest deity" representing the "one line [of rulers] unbroken since time immemorial" (bansei-ikkei). While the note's outlining of the emperor's immediate duties in implementing the surrender might be read as a short-term guarantee, there is no clear promise about the ultimate fate of either Hirohito or the imperial institution. It seems to me that the note is ambiguous, and wisely so, in that it leaves open the possibility that the imperial institution will be allowed to continue, but it promises nothing and, consequently, does not clearly compromise the policy of unconditional surrender(1). In Tokyo, the meaning of that ambiguity appears to have resided in the eye of the beholder. For Hirohito, the fact that the note did not *clearly reject* Japan's condition of preserving the kokutai (strictly speaking, a reference to the imperial institution) was good enough for him say that the note constituted acceptance of the one condition and thus for him to reaffirm his "sacred decision" to accept the Potsdam Declaration. However, for the hardliners (Army Minister Anami Korechika, Army Chief of Staff Umezu Yoshijiro, and Navy Chief of Staff Toyoda Soemu), the fact that Byrnes' reply did not *clearly accept* Japan's condition was enough for them to argue that it did not guarantee the kokutai and thus should be rejected. (Students in my current seminar on the surrender are divided, with most agreeing with Anami's reading but sympathizing with Hirohito's). I might add that had Washington not taken this ambiguous route, the hardliners may very well have carried the day and the war would likely have continued, perhaps even into November and the bloodbath awaiting everyone in Kyushu (assuming the US didn't have a change of mind about going through with the invasion). (1) In this sense, the Byrnes note reminds one of the Potsdam Declaration in that it says "this is what is going to happen once you surrender." There are a few folks who view the Potsdam Declaration as offering a conditional surrender, too, but it strikes me as a classic ultimatum, i.e., surrender or else ("prompt and utter destruction"), with the terms being a one-sided statement of what surrender will and will not bring. Cheers, Roger Brown, Ph.D. Professor of History (Modern Japan & US-Japan Relations) Saitama University email: firstname.lastname@example.org rhbrown <email@example.com> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----