Hirohito, Emperor Showa
Historical Figure
Nationality: Japan
Date of Birth: 1901
Date of Death: 1989
Cause of Death: Cancer
Religion: Shintoism
Occupation: Monarch, marine biologist
Parents: Yoshihito, Emperor Taisho;
Sadako, Empress Teimei
Spouse: Empress Kōjun
Children: Akihito and six others, two of whom predeceased him
House: Yamato
Political Office(s): Emperor of Japan
Fictional Appearances:

Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa (29 April 1901 - 7 January 1989) was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, beginning his reign, the longest in Japan's history, in 1926. Under his reign, Japan become a member of the Axis, and fought the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Although he symbolized Japanese evils in U.S. propaganda during the War, the Emperor cooperated with the reorganization of the Japanese state during the Allied occupation of Japan (which had surrendered unconditionally in 1945), and was found not guilty of war crimes. Hirohito was the only head of state of a major Axis partner not to be killed or overthrown in the immediate post-war period. He lived to see Japan become a highly urbanized democracy and one of the industrial and technological powerhouses of the world.

From 1945 until his death, the official story regarding Hirohito's role in the war was that he was a powerless figurehead who was not responsible for his councils' brutal actions. More recent analysis suggests that this innocent image was a morale-boosting lie created for convenience in reconciling old foes. Extant wartime documents have given the lie to any claims of imperial plausible deniability, therefore it is once again believed that Hirohito was indeed directly responsible for Japan's worst atrocities.

Hirohito in The Hot War[]

The Hot War
POD: November, 1950
Appearance(s): Bombs Away
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference

Although Hirohito remained the Emperor of Japan after World War II and into World War III, in fact, the United States called the shots in Japan.[1] Unlike West Germany, Japan was not directly attacked or impacted by the new war, nor did it act as a belligerent. The U.S. did fly bombing missions out of an airbase near Fukuoka.[2]

Hirohito in The Man With the Iron Heart[]

The Man With the Iron Heart
POD: May 29, 1942;
Relevant POD: May, 1945
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference

Hirohito was briefly regarded as the United States' prime enemy once Hitler committed suicide.[3] Although Japan surrendered unconditionally a few months later, Hirohito was allowed to remain on his throne.[4]

Hirohito in Worldwar[]

POD: May 30, 1942
Appearance(s): In the Balance
Striking the Balance
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references

When the Race's Conquest Fleet invaded Earth in 1942, Hirohito led Japan into a co-belligerency with his Axis allies as well as former enemies including the United States and China. Hirohito was firm about his country's intent to fight the Race from the outset, and the country remained independent,[5]. although not without a price. The capital city, Tokyo, was destroyed by the Race when they learned of Japan's explosive-metal bomb program.[6] Thus, at the Peace of Cairo, Japan was less a negotiator and more an observer,[7] and had their gains in China taken from them by the Race.

After the war, Japan formed much closer economic ties with the United States.[8] In 1965, Japan successfully tested its own explosive-metal bomb at Bikini Atoll, and demanded full diplomatic relations with the Race.[9]

Despite his title, the Race saw Hirohito as a "false front" for those who wielded true power in Japan.[10]

Hirohito in Days of Infamy[]

Days of Infamy
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references throughout

Hirohito gave his blessing to the the invasion of Hawaii as the opening stages of Japan's war with the United States.[11]

Hirohito in The War That Came Early[]

The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references throughout

During the reign of Hirohito, Japan attacked China in 1937, and then the Soviet Union in April 1939.[12] In summer 1940, after Japan had successfully overrun Vladivostok, Japan and the USSR made peace.[13] However, tensions between Japan and the United States began ratcheting up throughout the remainder of 1940. On 12 January 1941, Japan launched a war with the U.S.[14]

While Japan was initially able to gain substantial advantages in the Pacific throughout the war, by 1944 the fragile supply line they'd built began to collapse. With the war in Europe ending in mid-1944, the USSR turned its attention east again, and began closer cooperation with the U.S. in its war against Japan.

Hirohito in Joe Steele[]

Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Type of Appearance: Direct (novel);
Contemporary reference (story)
Date of Death: 1946 (novel)
1945 (short story)
Cause of Death: Shot to death (novel);
Incendiary bomb (short story)

Hirohito (1901-1946) was the Emperor of Japan during World War II. He became the last emperor of a unified Japan after his country was occupied by the United States and the Soviet Union.

While Hirohito reigned over his country's gains against its enemies, as the war progressed, Japan found itself in dire straits. At the end of 1945, after the United States invaded Japan in the south, and the Soviet Union invaded from the north, Hirohito and his generals nonetheless remained publicly defiant to the bitter end, leading to Operation: Coronet.[15]

With Coronet underway, Hirohito attempted to flee Tokyo in a black car escorted by four tanks. On the road to Kyoto, the convoy was attacked by American Hellcats. Three tanks were destroyed immediately in the attack. The car was also disabled, and Hirohito himself was killed by two rounds from the Hellcats' .50 caliber machine guns. While the crew of the fourth tank survived, and attempted to rescue Hirohito, they were killed by U.S. troops who'd just happened to be present. One of the soldiers, Mike Sullivan, identified Hirohito.[16]

Japan surrendered shortly after, and was divided into two states by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. While the northern part of the islands became the Japanese People's Republic, Hirohito's 12-year-old son, Akihito, became the emperor of the Constitutional Monarchy of Japan, the puppet state established by the U.S.[17]

Literary Comment[]

In the short story, Hirohito (1901-1945) is killed when his train is struck by an incendiary bomb in roughly December 1945. While the U.S. still creates the state of South Japan, its form of government is not described.

Hirohito in Southern Victory[]

Southern Victory
POD: September 10, 1862
Appearance(s): The Center Cannot Hold
In at the Death
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references

During the reign of Hirohito, Japan and the United States fought two wars, the Pacific War[18] and the Second Great War,[19] with neither achieving a true victory over the other.

See also[]


  1. The Hot War, pg. 138, HC.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 375-376.
  3. The Man With the Iron Heart, p. 36.
  4. Ibid., 54.
  5. In the Balance, pg. 224.
  6. Upsetting the Balance, pg. 105-106.
  7. Striking the Balance, pg. 397.
  8. Second Contact, pg. 117.
  9. Down to Earth, pgs. 518-521.
  10. In the Balance, pg. 178.
  11. See the Days of Infamy series, generally.
  12. See Hitler's War through The Big Switch, generally.
  13. The Big Switch, pg. 296.
  14. Ibid., pg. 396.
  15. Joe Steele, pg. 315.
  16. Ibid., pgs. 321-323.
  17. Ibid., pg. 325.
  18. The Center Cannot Hold, pg. 378, HC.
  19. The Grapple, pg. 324, pb.