Form of Authority
the 1945 defeat, Hirohito the Emperor (1926-1989) portrayed
himself as unsmiling, distant, and god-like. Dressed in a military
uniform and frequently atop a white horse, he was the head of an
state that glorified war and sacrifice for Emperor and
country. "Your life is as light as a feather," he told
his people, "but your loyalty is as heavy as a mountain."
the military defeat and allied
occupation in 1945, Japanese imperial authority, along with Emperor
Hirohito, died a social death. Hirohito's
physical death came
forty-four years later in 1989. For three days, TV networks stopped
regular programming and the public mourned.
Six weeks later there was a carefully orchestrated
funeral beginning with a private Shinto rites for the
Imperial Family, followed
by a public and secular ceremony attended by international dignitaries.
the defeat, the Allies stripped
Hirohito of power, but allowed him to retain his title as a "symbolic"
Emperor. Under American tutelage,
he cultivated a new image compatible with that of the "democratic"
Constitutional state. Along with his wife Nagako, he traveled throughout
Japan, visiting with the people. His once distant and god-like image
was replaced by that of a smiling, gentle, grandfatherly figure
in civilian clothes. After his death in 1989, his son, Prince Akihito,
was crowned Emperor. The Japanese
people transferred much of the loyalty once reserved for the Emperor
to the paternal corporation and embraced consumerism enthusiastically.
Prepared by Linda Fisher & John Borneman, January