Francis Pike

Hirohito, the war criminal who got away

75 years on, Japan still can’t come to terms with its past

Emperor Hirohito with Empress Kojun and Crown Prince Akihito [AFP via Getty Images]

This month the global media marked the 75th anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The cities’ destructions were momentous indeed, but the coverage has squeezed out other memories of the Pacific War. Who remembers Japan’s genocidal campaign in China that killed more than 20 million people — thousands of them by poison gas and canisters containing plague and typhus? Or the murder of 35 per cent of the 200,000 soldiers and civilians held in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps that meted out unspeakable cruelties? Certainly not the BBC, which failed to put Hiroshima and Nagasaki into any...

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Written by
Francis Pike
Francis Pike is a historian and author of Hirohito’s War, The Pacific War 1941-1945 and Empires at War: A Short History of Modern Asia Since World War II.

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