Hiro­hito’s mem­oirs bought by Holo­caust-deny­ing sur­geon

The Jakarta Post - - WORLD -

A Ja­panese cos­metic sur­geon crit­i­cized for prais­ing Nazis and play­ing down Ja­pan’s wartime atroc­i­ties won an auc­tion for mem­oirs by the late em­peror Hiro­hito that chron­i­cle the na­tion’s slide into World War II, pay­ing US$275,000 for the doc­u­ment.

Kat­suya Takasu, who of­ten ap­pears on TV shows in Ja­pan, has been blasted by a Jewish hu­man rights body, the Si­mon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter, for vi­o­lat­ing “all norms of de­cency” by dis­miss­ing as fab­ri­ca­tions the Holo­caust and the Nan­jing mas­sacre in China.

“I think both Nan­jing and Auschwitz are fab­ri­ca­tions,” Takasu said in a mes­sage on so­cial net­work Twit­ter in Oc­to­ber 2015. “There was no doubt that the Jews were per­se­cuted,” he has tweeted, but he also praised Nazi sci­en­tists’ con­tri­bu­tions to sci­ence, medicine and other fields.

Takasu on Thurs­day said he bought the hand­writ­ten doc­u­ment, known as Em­peror Showa’s Mono­logue, be­cause he thought it con­tained a mes­sage to roy­als and the Ja­panese peo­ple and should be kept in Ja­pan. The mem­oirs record events dating from the 1920s, such as Hiro­hito’s stated re­solve not to op­pose fu­ture cabi­net decisions. It caused a sensation when made pub­lic in 1990, reignit­ing a de­bate over the em­peror’s re­spon­si­bil­ity for the war.

The ac­count was dic­tated to one of Hiro­hito’s aides in 1946, when a de­feated Ja­pan was oc­cu­pied by Al­lied forces and the em­peror faced the possibility of be­ing tried as a war crim­i­nal — a step that ul­ti­mately was not taken.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view, Takasu said his posts had been in­ten­tion­ally mis­un­der­stood.

“It [the crit­i­cism] is from those who have skill­fully picked out some of my tweets and ma­li­ciously in­ter­preted them and it is a mis­un­der­stand­ing,” he said. “If you look at all my tweets, I am clearly against Nazism, but I do highly eval­u­ate the wonderful medicine of that era.”

Takasu added that he thought the num­ber of peo­ple killed in the Holo­caust and the Nan­jing mas­sacre had been ex­ag­ger­ated — a stance com­mon among Ja­panese ul­tra-na­tion­al­ists. China says Ja­panese troops killed 300,000 peo­ple in Nan­jing be­tween De­cem­ber 1937 and Jan­uary 1938, while an Al­lied tri­bunal put the death toll at about half that.

“What I wanted to say was that it is said that 6 mil­lion or 7 mil­lion were killed [in the Holo­caust], but was that not sev­eral tens of thou­sands?” Takasu asked. “It is said that 300,000 were killed in the Nan­jing mas­sacre, but was that not 6,000 to 7,000 peo­ple in­stead?”

Hiro­hito’s mem­oirs end with his state­ment that if he had ve­toed the de­ci­sion to go to war, it would have re­sulted in a civil con­flict that would have been even worse and “Ja­pan would have been de­stroyed,” auc­tion house Bonhams said on its web­site.

Asked about Hiro­hito’s re­spon­si­bil­ity for the war, Takasu said the late em­peror was ab­solved when he said he would give his life for the Ja­panese peo­ple. “At the point the em­peror made that com­ment, he had no sin,” he said.

Reuters/Courtesy Bonhams Auctions

Tan­gi­ble his­tory: The hand­writ­ten mem­oirs of the late Ja­panese em­peror Hiro­hito, en­ti­tled Em­peror Showa’s Mono­logue, dic­tated to and tran­scribed by Terasaki Hi­denari, were sold at Bonhams Auc­tion house in New York City on Thurs­day for US$275,000.

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