/hear'oh hee"toh/; Japn. /hee"rddaw hee"taw/, n. ("Showa")
1901-89, emperor of Japan 1926-89.

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or Shōwa emperor

born April 29, 1901, Tokyo, Japan
died Jan. 7, 1989, Tokyo

Longest-reigning of Japan's monarchs (1926–89).

His rule coincided with Japan's 20th-century militarism and its aggression against China and Southeast Asia and in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Though the Meiji Constitution invested the emperor with supreme authority, in practice he merely ratified the policies formulated by his ministers and advisers. Historians have debated whether Hirohito could have diverted Japan from its militaristic path and what responsibility he should bear for the actions of the government and military during the war. In August 1945 he broke the precedent of imperial silence when he made a national radio broadcast to announce Japan's surrender, and in 1946 he made a second broadcast to repudiate the traditional quasi-divine status of Japan's emperors. See also Shōwa period.

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▪ emperor of Japan
original name  Michinomiya Hirohito , posthumous name  Shōwa 
born April 29, 1901, Tokyo
died Jan. 7, 1989, Tokyo
 emperor of Japan from 1926 until his death in 1989. He was the longest-reigning monarch in Japan's history.

      Hirohito was born at the Aoyama Palace and was educated at the Peers' School and at the Crown Prince's Institute. Early in life he developed an interest in marine biology, on which he later wrote several books. In 1921 he visited Europe, becoming the first Japanese crown prince to travel abroad. Upon his return he was named prince regent when his father, the emperor Taishō, retired because of mental illness. In 1924 he married the princess Nagako Kuni.

 Hirohito became emperor of Japan on Dec. 25, 1926, following the death of his father. His reign was designated Shōwa, or “Enlightened Peace.” The Japanese constitution invested him with supreme authority, but in practice he merely ratified the policies that were formulated by his ministers and advisers. Many historians have asserted that Hirohito had grave misgivings about war with the United States and was opposed to Japan's alliance with Germany and Italy but that he was powerless to resist the militarists who dominated the armed forces and the government. Other historians assert that Hirohito might have been involved in the planning of Japan's expansionist policies from 1931 to World War II. Whatever the truth may be, in 1945, when Japan was close to defeat and opinion among the country's leaders was divided between those favouring surrender and those insisting on a desperate defense of the home islands against an anticipated invasion by the Allies, Hirohito settled the dispute in favour of those urging peace. He broke the precedent of imperial silence on Aug. 15, 1945, when he made a national radio broadcast to announce Japan's acceptance of the Allies' terms of surrender. In a second historic broadcast, made on Jan. 1, 1946, Hirohito repudiated the traditional quasi-divine status of Japan's emperors.

      Under the nation's new constitution, drafted by U.S. occupation authorities, Japan became a constitutional monarchy. Sovereignty resided in the people, not in the emperor, whose powers were severely curtailed. In an effort to bring the imperial family closer to the people, Hirohito began to make numerous public appearances and permitted publication of pictures and stories of his personal and family life. In 1959 his oldest son, Crown Prince Akihito, married a commoner, Shōda Michiko, breaking a 1,500-year tradition. In 1971 Hirohito broke another tradition when he toured Europe and became the first reigning Japanese monarch to visit abroad. In 1975 he made a state visit to the United States. Upon his death in 1989, Hirohito was succeeded as emperor by Akihito.

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Universalium. 2010.

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