It is a puzzle, with an intriguing, possibly explosive, solution.
Why now, after 70 years, did Japan’s Imperial Household Agency on August 1 agree to release the original phonograph record of Emperor Hirohito’s surrender speech first broadcast to the nation and the world on August 15, 1945?
The most probable answer is that Hirohito’s son, reigning Emperor Akihito, now 81, ordered the release. So speculates one of Japan’s most insightful pundits and critic of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s foreign and security policies, former diplomat, Amaki Naoto.
Why would Akihito do this? It is because he is deeply concerned about the foreign and, particularly, security policies of the Abe government, most immediately Abe’s patently unconstitutional new security legislation.
Akihito has surely been deeply conflicted and frustrated by the discourse and direction he is seeing coming from the Abe government. Constrained by custom in what he can publicly say, he has—we may believe–chosen the highly symbolic gesture of releasing the original phonograph disk of his father’s surrender speech to express his alarm. By doing so, he is lending enormous moral support for an increasingly organized, vocal, and effective anti-Abe security legislation, pro-Article 9 popular movement.