MacArthur's Japan

MacArthur's Japan

MacArthur's Japan

MacArthur's Japan

Excerpt

PRECISELY AT NOON, on the hot, hopeless day of August 15, 1945, the heartbeat of tremulous Japan stopped for an instant. Japanese throughout the country were grouped in front of their radios, wearing the mask they had been taught to assume in moments of stress. Grim fishermen and weary farmers; frayed city folk, stiff and obedient soldiers. Even the children were quiet. The patient, battered servants of the emperor were about to hear the Son of Heaven himself, for the first time.

"We didn't know what to expect," said R. Kumasaki, a well-educated and once prosperous Japanese official. "The government announcement had said only that the emperor would speak. We were commanded to listen. This, in itself, was historic, for a Japanese emperor never before had been heard on the radio."

Bright blue skies were clear, for once, of the little silver arrows that had brought such pain. American planes frequently came by day--majestic B-29's with their thunderous loads of death; quick, nervous fighter planes that taunted the Japanese to fight and got no response. The Americans had begun to announce their target cities in advance, then had proceeded to slash each one on schedule, without challenge from the Japanese. A great fleet had prowled for days along the coastline; shells had screamed into Tokyo and several other points along a seafront over a hundred miles long.

Japan was the only major nation in the world which had never been invaded. The Japanese were nurtured from the cradle on stories of their great military heritage. They knew by heart the details of the ill-fated thirteenth century attempt of Kublai Khan's . . .

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