Emperor Hirohito Meets US General Douglas MacArthur

On September 27, 1945, Emperor Hirohito paid a visit to US Army General Douglas MacArthur at the United States Embassy in Tokyo. Except for the Emperor's personal translator (he spoke the Imperial Dialect of Japanese, which was difficult for native Japanese to understand) his entourage was politely, but effectively, shut out of the meeting. The two met for minutes and one photo was taken. Hirohito accepted responsibility for the conduct of the war, unaware that MacArthur, over the objections of Stalin and the British, has removed his name from the list of war criminals, fearing guerrilla actions if he were to stand trial. The next day, the photo was run in newspapers in Japan and the United States. A faction of the Japanese people believed Hirohito was forced into the meeting, but the Tenno Emperor asked MacArthur for the meeting. Hirohito was key to the smooth transition from militaristic autocratic government into a Western-style democracy. MacArthur said after the meeting that Hirohito was "a sincere man and a genuine liberal," high praise from the General. Hirohito's evaluation of MacArthur remain unclear, but he published poems in newspapers subtly encouraging the Japanese public to cooperate with the occupation. Hirohito visited MacArthur twice per year until MacArthur's retirement. His endorsement of Supreme Command Allied Powers (SCAP) directives afforded the Americans the stamp of legitimacy in a country conditioned to Imperial deference.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives
Date Photographed: 
Thursday, September 27, 1945
Tokyo Prefecture