In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army

By Edward J. Drea | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
CHASING A DECISIVE VICTORY Emperor Hirohito and Japan's War with the West (1941-1945)

Between 18 March and 8 April 1946, Emperor Hirohito narrated his version of his tumultuous reign to a tiny circle of five court intimates. The five took notes of the imperial account as told to them in five sessions held on four separate days. One of them, Terasaki Hidenari, then an imperial household official after a varied foreign ministry career, based on his notes prepared an abbreviated version of the meetings. He placed his version, dated 1 June 1946, with his diary where it would remain unread for more than forty years. 1

Terasaki himself was a fascinating figure. He belonged to the staff of the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC in the months before Pearl Harbor. With his American wife, Gwen, whom he married in 1931; his fluent English; and his Ivy League connections--he was a Brown graduate--Terasaki seemed perfectly suited to present Japan's cause to the American government. Alas, he was too perfect because, in the words of Gerhard Krebs, Terasaki was "Japan's master spy in the Western Hemisphere." His duties included overseeing Japanese espionage activities in North and South America, paying spies, agents, and informants, as well as clandestinely collecting intelligence for Japan. Because the American authorities were decrypting Japanese diplomatic ciphers, they were well aware of Terasaki's double game. 2 They feared expelling or later prosecuting Terasaki for espionage might alert the Japanese foreign ministry to its porous cipher system. So Terasaki, his wife, and their

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