January 1, 1946: Hirohito States That He Is Not a God

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1946 began with a bang in Japan with the release of an Imperial Rescript by Hirohito in which he stated that he was not a god:

In greeting the New Year, We recall to mind that Emperor Meiji proclaims as the basis of our national policy, the Five Clauses of the Charter-Oath at the beginning of the Meiji Era. The Charter-Oath signified: 

  1. Deliberative assemblies shall be established and all measures of government decided in accordance with public opinion.
  2. All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the affairs of State.
  3. All common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall be allowed to fulfill their just desires so that there may not be any discontent among them.
  4. All the absurd usages of old shall be broken through, and equality and justice to be found in the workings of nature shall serve as the basis of action.
  5. Wisdom and knowledge shall be sought throughout the world for the purpose of promoting the welfare of the Empire.

     The proclamation is evident in significance and high in its ideals. We wish to make this oath anew and restore the country to stand on its own feet again.

     We have to reaffirm the principles embodied in the Charter, and proceed unflinchingly towards elimination of misguided practices of the past, and keeping in close touch with the desires of the people, we will construct a new Japan through thoroughly being pacific, the officials and the people alike, attaining rich culture, and advancing the standard of living of the people.

     The devastation of war inflicted upon our cities, the miseries of the destitute, the stagnation of trade, shortage of food, and great and growing number of the unemployed are indeed heart-rending.

     But if the nation is firmly united in its resolve to face the present ordeal and to seek civilization consistently in peace, a bright future will undoubtedly be ours, not only for our country, but for the whole humanity.

     Love of the family and love of the country are especially strong in this country. With more of this devotion should we now work towards love of mankind.

     We feel deeply concerned to note that consequent upon the protracted war ending in our defeat, our people are liable to grow restless and to fall into the Slough of Despond.

     Radical tendencies in excess are gradually spreading and the sense of morality tends to lose its hold on the people, with the result that there are signs of confusion of thoughts.

     We stand by the people and We wish always to share with them in their moments of joys and sorrows.

The ties between Us and Our people have always stood mutual trust and affection. They do not depend upon mere legends and myths.

     They are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine, and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world.

     Our Government should make every effort to alleviate their trials and tribulations.

     At the same time, We trust that the people will rise to the occasion, and will strive courageously for the solution of their outstanding difficulties, and for the development of industry and culture.

     Acting upon a consciousness of solidarity and of mutual aid and broad tolerance in their civic life, they will prove themselves worthy of their best tradition.

     By their supreme endeavours in that direction, they will be able to render their substantial contribution to the welfare and advancement of mankind.

     The resolution for the year should be made at the beginning of the year. We expect Our people to join Us in all exertions looking to accomplishment of this great undertaking with an indomitable spirit. (more…)

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1864: The Coming Year

Situation at Beginning of 1864

Not much of note was going on during the Civil War 156 years ago.  The War had entered a quiet stage, as if both Union and Confederacy, exhausted by the extreme exertions of the prior year, were gathering strength for the decisive year that lay ahead.

The political calendar for the Union ensured that it would be decisive.  The Republicans had lost 20 seats in the 1862 elections, primarily due to the War, and Confederates could hope that Lincoln, as all Presidents subsequent to Jackson, would be a one term President and he and his party would be repudiated at the polls, bringing an end to the War and independence for the Confederacy.  Unionists realized that unless Lincoln won reelection, the War was likely lost, as a Peace Democrat would be unlikely to continue the War.  More than in any election in American history, the Union elections of 1864 hinged upon the perceived success or failure of the Union war effort.

The third anniversary of the beginning of the War would come in April, and the Union could take solace in the fact that progress was being made.  The Union controlled the Mississippi and the largest Confederate city, New Orleans, was firmly in the Union grasp.  The Union blockade was beginning to bite, with the Union controlling ports and enclaves the length of the Confederate coast line.  Tennessee was completely subdued with the Union holding large portions of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  However, the cost had been frightful and at the rate of the last three years, it might well take at least another three years to see the War end in Union victory.  No doubt even ardent Union supporters wondered if Union morale could endure the costly and bloody conflict for much longer.  1864 would have to see a speed up in the process of the Union winning the War, or eventual victory would never come. (more…)

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