The Daily Manila Shimbun


EXCLUSIVE: Funeral Preparations Started 7 Years before Emperor Hirohito’s Death

December 29, 2019

Tokyo- Japan's Foreign Ministry started preparations for the funeral of then Emperor Hirohito and held secret talks with the Imperial Household Agency on the matter in 1982, seven years before his death, according to recently declassified ministry records reviewed by Jiji Press.

The agencies examined funerals of foreign leaders, including that of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy in November 1963, as part of the effort, according to the documents.

In a document dated Feb. 15, 1983, the ministry's Protocol Office said that it would need to make preparations to ensure a smooth response to the death of Emperor Hirohito as he was close to 82 years old, although this should not be talked about lightly.

A small group of ministry officials began preparations for the funeral of Emperor Hirohito, known as Emperor Showa after his death, around autumn 1982, at the instruction of protocol chief Seiya Nishida, according to the document.

In early December in 1982, there were secret talks with Ryo Katsuyama, councillor at the Imperial House Agency, the document showed.

In the meeting, Katsuyama said that a "Taiso no Rei" state funnel would be held under the Imperial House Law when Emperor Hirohito dies, while describing this as a personal view.

A document created on Dec. 8, 1982, showed that the ministry asked the Imperial Household Agency to decide whether to invite foreign guests to the funeral. The ministry cited the need to make arrangements for funeral diplomacy if foreign guests were invited, according to the document.

In June 1982, the Imperial Household Agency asked the ministry to survey funerals of leaders in Britain, West Germany, France and Yugoslavia.

The ministry's Protocol Office looked into the funerals of Britain's King George VI, a Swedish king and Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito as well as Kennedy.

The Protocol Office also studied the funerals of Japanese prime ministers, including Shigeru Yoshida, Hayato Ikeda, Eisaku Sato and Masayoshi Ohira.

A document made on April 12, 1983, by the Protocol Office showed details of the funeral of Emperor Hirohito, including transportation, accommodations and security arrangements based on examples from the funeral in July 1980 of Ohira that was attended by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter and then Chinese Premier Hua Guofeng.

The Feb. 24, 1989, funeral of Emperor Hirohito was attended by representatives from 164 countries, including then U.S. President George W. Bush. Jiji Press