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Tojo and Sumo

Today, an infamous anniversity. Also: Sumo!

Tojo

It’s the birthday of Tōjō Hideki (英機東條), better known in the West as Hideki Tojo, the Japanese Prime Minister for most of World War II and the man directly responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack which would pull the US into the war and ultimately doom Japan’s Empire ambition. Since he is already commonly known in the West and spelled Tojo, I’ll use that spelling here. He enjoyed incredible popularity in Japan while the war went well, but after the Battle of Midway when the Imperial army started to crumble, his popularity also fell until he was forced to resign.

Tojo was often the face of the enemy in the US and after the war ended he accepted full blame for his actions. Many people at the time and historians since say that General MacAuthur and his staff shifted all blame away from the Emperor and onto Tojo in their attempts to make the emperor look blameless. At one point, in fact, during his trail Tojo strayed from the agreed-upon line concerning imperial innocence and referred to the Emperor’s ultimate authority. The American-led prosecution immediately arranged that he be secretly coached to recant this testimony.

Tojo was sentenced to death on November 12, 1948 and executed by hanging 41 days later on December 231948.

Anti-war Japanese

I mentioned above that Tojo’s popularity was very high when the war was going well, as with most war-leaders when their country is doing well. It is worth keeping in mind that many Japanese were anti-war, a very dangerous position at the time.

I’ve posted this poem before, but it is worth repeating. An anti-war tanka from Toki Zenmaro written after hearing news from the invasion of China:

Abandoned corpses numbered

in the hundreds, they say,

’in the thousands’

Not one of us

can live twice

Daily Photo: Sumo Squared

Everyone gets a little excited before every sumo tournament. Here you see sumo schedule along with the small wrestlers. The first tournment of 2014 starts on January 12.

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