The ghost in the machine

“The leaders of Nazi Germany existed in a gangster ethos. Most of the rulers of Japan, by contrast, were men of high birth, possessed of cultural and educational advantages which made the conduct of their wartime offices seem all the more deplorable, both practically and morally. At the lonely pinnacle stood the emperor, forty-three years old in 1944, denied by his throne the comfort of intimates, and by his choice any personal indulgences. A light sleeper, Hirohito rose at seven each morning in the Imperial Palace, breakfasted off black bread and oatmeal, then worked until a lunch of cooked vegetables and dumpling soup. He neither smoked nor drank. To an extraordinary degree, Hirohito’s role in the origins and course of Japan’s war remains shrouded in dispute, just as his precise powers in Japan’s constitutional system mystified most of his own subjects during his reign.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

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