Hirohito wartime memoir sells for $275000

Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito

Katsuya Takasu purchased the handwritten document Wednesday from Bonham's auction house in New York City for $275,000, almost double its expected top price, at an auction in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Comprising two volumes with a total of 173 pages, the monologue shows thoughts given by Emperor Showa in his own words on momentous events before, during and after World War II. It was created at the request of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, whose administration controlled Japan at the time.

The memoir, also known as the imperial monologue, covers events from the Japanese assassination of Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin in 1928 to the emperor's surrender broadcast recorded on August 14, 1945.

The document's contents caused a sensation when they were first published in Japan in 1990, just after the emperor's death.

The monologue is believed among historians to be a carefully crafted text meant to defend Hirohito's responsibility in case he was prosecuted after the war.

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The auctioneers have put an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 on the manuscript, which consists of two browning twine-bound notebooks written in pen and pencil by Terasaki Hidenari, an interpreter and adviser to the emperor, in 1946. A 1997 documentary on Japan's NHK television found an English translation of the memoir that supports that view.

"It should have been in Japan, but it ended up overseas", Dr. Katsuya Takasu told The Associated Press in Tokyo.

This is a topic academics say has never been fully pursued in Japan, largely due to US occupation authorities' decision to retain the emperor as a symbol of a newly democratic nation.

Plastic surgeon Takasu, has been criticized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, for using social media to praise Adolf Hitler and deny both the Holocaust and the 1937 Nanjing massacre.

The transcript was kept by Terasaki's American wife Gwen Terasaki after his death in 1951.

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