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Hirohito, the Showa Emperor, reigned over Japan from 1926 to 1989. He was known in the West by his given name Hirohito (he had no surname). He was the 124th Emperor of Japan. His reign was the longest of all Japanese emperors, and oversaw the greatest changes to Japanese society.

The first part of Hirohito's reign as sovereign (between 1926 and 1945) took place against a background of increasing military power within the government, through both legal and extralegal means. The Japanese Imperial Army and Imperial Navy had held veto power over the formation of cabinets since 1900, and between 1921 and 1944 there were no less than 64 incidents of right-wing political violence.

One notable case was the assassination of moderate Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai in 1932, which marked the end of any real civilian control of the military. This was followed by an attempted military coup in February 1936, mounted by junior Army officers; it was occasioned by a loss of ground by the militarist faction in Diet elections. The coup resulted in the murder of a number of high government and Army officials, and was put down with Hirohito angrily assuming a major role in confronting them.

Still, from the 1930s on, the military clique held almost all political power in Japan, and pursued policies that eventually led Japan to fight the second Sino-Japanese War and World War II.

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Hirohito, the Showa Emperor, reigned over Japan from 1926 to 1989. He was known in the West by his given name Hirohito (he had no surname). He was the 124th Emperor of Japan. His reign was the longest of all Japanese emperors, and oversaw the greatest changes to Japanese society.

The first part of Hirohito's reign as sovereign (between 1926 and 1945) took place against a background of increasing military power within the government, through both legal and extralegal means. The Japanese Imperial Army and Imperial Navy had held veto power over the formation of cabinets since 1900, and between 1921 and 1944 there were no less than 64 incidents of right-wing political violence.

One notable case was the assassination of moderate Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai in 1932, which marked the end of any real civilian control of the military. This was followed by an attempted military coup in February 1936, mounted by junior Army officers; it was occasioned by a loss of ground by the militarist faction in Diet elections. The coup resulted in the murder of a number of high government and Army officials, and was put down with Hirohito angrily assuming a major role in confronting them.

Still, from the 1930s on, the military clique held almost all political power in Japan, and pursued policies that eventually led Japan to fight the second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. More...

 
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