Sunday, September 27, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1726


Tokyo, Japan (JFK+50) Seventy years ago today, September 27, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur met with Japanese Emperor Hirohito* at the Allied General Headquarters here in Tokyo.

MacArthur had arrived in Japan just two days earlier by order of President Harry S Truman to oversee the occupation of Japan following that nation's surrender ending World War II on September 2nd.

The General, accompanied only by an interpreter and photographer, met with the Emperor for about twenty minutes.  Since there was no written transcript made of this meeting, we do not know what was discussed.  The meeting took place in the Reception Room of Allied GHQ.

We do know that General MacArthur allowed three photographs to be taken of himself with the Emperor and that one of these was published the following day in Japanese newspapers and the New York Times.  Because the Emperor had been considered "divine," the publication in Japan served as a signal that MacArthur, not the Emperor, was now in charge.

During the six year occupation, MacArthur and Hirohito would meet less than a dozen more times, but the first meeting is the one that is remembered because of the iconic photograph of the two men which was taken by Lt. Gaetano Faillace, a member of the military camera corps.

The photo, shown below, shocked many people because of General MacArthur's nonchalant appearance.  Life Magazine wrote..."MacArthur did not trouble himself to put on a tie for the occasion."  Of the three images, the last was chosen as the one to be published because in the first MacArthur's eyes were closed, and in the second the Emperor's mouth was open.

According to Jim Zobel, assistant archivist at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, the copy on file in his facility, signed by both men, may be worth up to "six figures."  The Memorial's Artifacts Series on this photograph may be seen via YouTube embedded below.

*Hirohito (1901-1989), the 124th Emperor of Japan from 1926 to 1989, was born in Tokyo and attended Gakushuin Peers' School and an institute for the Crown Prince.  Hirohito assumed the throne on the death of his father on Dec 25, 1926.  His reign ended with his death due to complications of pancreatic cancer.  Hirohito's funeral was attended by President George H.W. Bush.


"Did Hirohito apologize to MacArthur?,"

"Emperor Hirohito Meets U.S. General Douglas MacArthur,"

MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk, Virginia,

"When MacArthur Met the Emperor," Iconic Photos, September 28, 2012,

General MacArthur & Emperor Hirohito
Allied General HQ, Tokyo
September 27, 1945
Photo by Lt. Gaetano Faillace
US Army Image