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Tuesday, Sept. 25, 1945
Japanese democracy needs nursing, Emperor tells United Press
By HUGH BAILLIE, President of the United Press
TOKYO, Sept. 25, 1945 (UP) - Japan is now on an entirely new footing and will prove itself equal to membership in the family of nations, Emperor Hirohito told the United Press in an interview today.
The emperor said that a democratic Japanese form of government which will evolve in time may not necessarily follow the exact pattern of democracy in the United States and Britain, but it is his desire and intention that his people be made to appreciate the value of democratic government.
Hirohito said that Japan was in urgent need of food. He is much exercised about the prospects for winter when millions of Japanese will be without clothing, shelter and fuel.
According to court procedure, my questions were submitted in writing several days before the audience and as I left the imperial household departmental building the questions and written answers were handed to me.
However, my conversation with the emperor lasted 25 minutes during which tea was served. During this conversation, the emperor said that he expected to have a visit with Gen. Douglas MacArthur very soon.
In written answers regarding the democratic future of Japan, the emperor said that he believes that an immediate revolutionary change of the form of government of Japan is neither possible nor desirable.
The emperor said that he would like to ask people of the United Nations to observe the future trend of Japan closely now that the nation has started on what he describes as a new road of peace in furtherance of which he said he would employ every means at his disposal to reach the desired goal.
The audience started promptly at 4 p.m., when the double doors of his chamber opened and Hirohito entered. He was attired in a frock coat, striped trousers, stiff batwing collar with curved rather than pointed edges and a four-in-hand tie.
Hirohito impressed me as being rather taller than I had expected. He wore steel-rimmed glasses and his hair was not as closely cropped as I had anticipated.
He had a rather scholarly air reminiscent of a traditional college professor.
During the audience, silence fell once or twice as it would between any two men. He broke it once by asking me about my hobbies - if any - and a second time by inquiring what fronts I had visited during the war.
During each of these brief intervals of silence between us, no one else present said a word.
The emperor was accompanied by the minister of imperial households, S. Ishiwata; the grand chamberlain of the imperial household, Adm. H. Fujita, and the grandmaster of ceremonies, Baron M. Takei.
The emperor and myself sat vis-?-vis in large high-backed army chairs with a small tea table at the elbow of each. The other three sat nearby, each with a tea table. They abstained from joining the conversation with took place entirely between the emperor and myself with Katsuzo Okymura of the Foreign Office, as the interpreter.
The audience was conducted in the imperial household building in a room furnished in European style with French furniture, Japanese vases and screens.
The former audience chamber, which was furnished in Japanese style, was destroyed by bombings.
Prior to the audience, I was informed that the emperor now resides in a cottage within the palace grounds since his imperial palace was rendered uninhabitable by air raids. It is estimated that buildings within the extensive palace grounds are 50 per cent destroyed.
At the gate, American sentries examined my pass, issued by the U.S. provost marshal, and called their officer of the day to scrutinize it and question me regarding the purpose of my mission.
Two steel-helmeted American sentries with bayoneted rifles peered into the windows of the car in which I was sitting as their commanding officer talked with me. Upon my assurance that I was scheduled to have tea with the emperor, the officer finally permitted me to proceed.
As we passed a point opposite the main palace building, my escort doffed his hat. After we entered the palace grounds, all attendants we encountered bowed deeply and gravely.
The conversation at tea flowed rapidly through the interpreter without constraint. Hirohito laughed frequently, smiled broadly and nodded his head as the interpreter translated into English or Japanese what had been said.
The emperor, noting that this was my first visit, asked my impressions. I told him and he replied that this was not a very good time to get the best impression of the country.
We also discussed golf, baseball and biology, which Hirohito said was not a specialty with him, but a hobby. It is known that the emperor had a biological laboratory before the war in which he conducted his own experiments.
Several times during the conversation the emperor emphasized his desire for everlasting peace and spoke of his desire to do everything he could to effectuate peace.
Regarding freedom of news, Hirohito said in his written replies that this is a highly desirable objective. He also said that free interchange of news among nations would be the greatest safeguard against international misunderstandings.
Finally expressing the wish that my stay to Japan would be enjoyable, the emperor indicated that my audience was finished. We all rose. He left through the same wide doors he had entered the room as all the Japanese bowed. The emperor responded with a bow.
Following is the text of the written questions and answers:
Q: Would your imperial majesty care to speak of the future of Japan?
A: Now that Japan has started on the new road of peace, his majesty's most hopeful nation will succeed in arriving at that desired goal for which he will employ every means at his disposal. The emperor would like to ask the people of the United Nations to observe the future trend of Japan closely. The nation is now on an entirely new footing and will prove itself equal to the membership of the family of nations. His majesty says he will deliberately refrain from giving too many promises regarding the future of the country at this moment so he realizes it is deeds and not mere words that really matter.
Q: What is the future of democracy in Japan?
A: The emperor believes that an immediate revolutionary change of the form of government in Japan is neither possible nor desirable. The democratic government which will evolve in time may not necessarily follow the exact pattern that it has in the United States or Great Britain. But it is his majesty's desire and intention that his people will be made to appreciate the value of democratic government.
Q: In my travels around Japan I have been impressed by the large numbers of children seen everywhere. Would your imperial majesty care to comment on the trend which education will take in Japan during the coming years?
A: His majesty feels that the educational system should be so directed as to foster a search for truth, initiative, broad mindedness and the correct kind of world outlook. He hopes that any past shortcomings in those respects will be remedied.
Q: What are the most immediate problems in your imperial majesty's mind with regard to the daily needs of the people of Japan?
A: The emperor says that Japan is in urgent need of staple foods now. He is much exercised with the prospects for winter, when millions of his people will be without clothing, shelter or fuel. A solution of this problem will be extremely difficult without the sympathetic cooperation of other nations.
Q: Is it your imperial majesty's wish that Japan have a free press and free interchange of news with other nations of the world?
A: His majesty's reply is "yes": he says that this highly desirable objective is to be achieved as rapidly as conditions permit. The emperor believes that free interchange of news among nations would be the greatest safeguard against international misunderstandings.
(World copyright 1945, by the United Press)
Copyright 2007 by United Press International.