Declassified Documents from the MacArthur Archives

MacArthur Archives

Classified GHQ Intelligence Reports
on the History of the Chrysanthemum Throne

Sixth of Six Parts

MacArthur Headquarters Intelligence Briefings


18 December 1947

New Imperial Families

[ Comment ]
(Sixth of series)

(a) House of NASHIMOTO: Prince NASHIMOTO Morimasa was the fourth son of Prince KUNI Ashiko and a grandson of the Mr. FUSHIMI who became His Imperial Highness and fathered so many "imperial" families (Intell. Summary 1597). He became head of the NASHIMOTO House in 1885. A field Marshal in the army and also a chief priest of the Grand Shrines of Ise, he was arrested as a war criminal and held in Sugamo Prison for more than a year, but was liberated in 1947 of lack of evidence.

The Prince had property of 368 million yen. His property tax was 256 million, leaving him 112 million yen "with which to maintain his dignity" as the Japanese express it. As a former army officer he received no allowance and was purged from public life. He was compelled to sell his country house to pay off his property tax. His town house was burned during the war. The climax of his misfortunes came when robbers broke into his house recently and stole all of his clothing.

This former chief war lord of the Imperial Family of Japan now lives with his wife in a two-room shack on the site of his former Tokyo mansion, bereft of his imperial dignity, his title, his prosperity, his mansion, his priesthood, his religion of Shinto, his field marshals baton, and his long winter underwear. (a) His daughter was married in 1920 to Prince RI, heir to the Crown of Korea. This was an effort on the part of the Japanese to absorb the Royal Family of Korea and thus facilitate and consolidate the annexation of that country by the Japanese Empire.

(b) House of ASAKA: This house was established in 1906 by Prince YASUHIKO, eighth son of Prince KUNI Asahiko. The purpose of this new house was to make a place for one of the many illegitimate daughters of the Emperor MEIJI. The prince was married to Princess NOBUKO, daughter of the Emperor MEIJI by a lady-in-waiting.

The Prince and his son, as military officers, were purged and given no retirement allowance. However, after they paid 844 million yen taxes they had 623 million left.

(c) House of HIGASHI-KUNI: This house was founded in 1906 by Narukiko, ninth son of Prince KUNI Ashiko. The purpose of this house, like that of ASAKA, was to make a place for one of the illegitimate daughters of the Emperor MEIJI. HIGASHI-KUNI married TOSHIKO, ninth illegitimate daughter of the Emperor MEIJI, in 1915. He was made Premier and headed the Cabinet immediately following the surrender in 1945. His son, Prince MORIHIRO, married Princess SHIGEKO, eldest daughter of the Emperor HIROHITO, and they have one son.

The ex-Premier and former Prince was a general in the army and in command of home defense in the Tokyo area. His son also served in the army. Thus both father and son were purged and receive no retirement allowance. However, since two members of this family are the daughters of Emperors, their retirement allowance was greater than most other families. The family used a portion of its 769 million yen to open a noodle shop and restaurant in Tokyo.

(d) House of KAYA: This house was founded in 1892 by Prince KUNINORI, second son of Prince KUNI Asahiko. Why this house was founded is unknown. Its existence seems to be without excuse or reason. The present head is Prince KAYA Tsunenori, former lieutenant general in the army.

(e) House of KITASHIRAKAWA: This house was founded in 1870, evidently to strengthen a weak dynasty which was in danger of extinction at the time. It and the house of TAKEDA are the only superfluous Imperial Families which did not spring from FUSHIMI Kuniiye. The only house was named for Emperor GO-SHIRAKAWA, who abdicated in order to give all of his time to a life of debauchery. (b) The second son of the line was Gin Prince KITASHIRAKAWA, who conjured Formosa in the Sino-Japanese War and died there in 1895. He was made a god and the Taikoku Shrine was erected for him in Formosa.

The third of the line, Prince NARIHISA, who married FUSAKO, seventh illegitimate daughter of the Emperor MEIJI, was killed in a motor accident in Paris 1923. His wife was crippled as a result of the accident. Their son, Prince NAGAHISA, succeeded his father as head of the house. An army officer he was killed in an airplane crash in Mongolia in 1940. The present family consists of the two widowed princesses and two small children. after paying a tax of 653 million yen and receiving an allowance of 540 million yen, this family has 730 million yen with which to start a new life.

(f) House of TAKEDA: This house was founded in 1906 by Prince TSUNEHISA, first son of Prince KITASHIRAKAWA Yoshihisa. Its purpose was to provide a place for MASAKO, the sixth illegitimate daughter of Emperor MEIJI, who married the Prince in 1903. Prince TSUNEYOSHI, only son of this marriage, is the present head of the house. An army officer, he was purged from any official position. He received no retirement allowance, but his family paid a tax of 465 million yen and was given an allowance of 544 million yen.

(g) Families Used for Aggression: The way these families have been used to further Japanese aggression is clear from a study of their history. When the Emperor over threw the Shogunate Government and was trying to consolidate his position in the country it was found convenient to marry a Prince to the Shogun's daughter and thus tie the TOKUGAWA family and millions of the Shogun's followers to the Emperor and his new Government.

When the King of Luchu Islands and the SATSUMA Clan in Kyushu launched a civil war in 1877, they were defeated. But to bind the King and his powerful clan to the Imperial cause, an Imperial Prince was married to the King's daughter. To make the tie doubly binding the daughter of this marriage was married to the Crown Prince and is now Empress NAGAKO.

When Korea was annexed and an effort was being made to absorbed into the Empire the heir to the Throne of Korea was brought to Japan and married to an Imperial Princess. He is now living in Tokyo and his son is a loyal Japanese.

The pattern is clear. The numerous branches of the Imperial Family, like the Emperor institution itself, were used by the militarists as tools for aggression and expansion of Japanese power and influence.

19 December 1947

Last Supper of Imperial Family

(a) Historic Event in Postwar Japan: The editor of the "Japan Review" says, "One of the greatest historical events in post war Japan was certainly the descent of 51 member of 11 princely families to the rank of common citizens on 14 0ct 47."

(b) Eta Gives Advice to Princes: The 11 families now have to depend on their own abilities and resources to get along in the world. When final official action was taken in the matter of divesting the Princes and the financial settlements were made in the Imperial Family Economic Conference held in the Palace on 13 Oct 47, and extraordinary and ironical twist of fate was given to the event. MATSUMOTO Jiichiro, Vice-President of the House of Councilors, had the duty of breaking the news to the 51 members of the Royal Family. MATSUMOTO is one of the Eta class, the untouchables in Japan. They have long been social outcasts, but now that they are free, their leader was elected to the Diet in the last election. The imperial Princes stood and heard this despised Eta say, "These large sums of money we grant you to help you get started in your new life. You must remember that they were made at a time when the nations expenses were mounting, due to the need of affording relief for thousands of war sufferers. We hope you will remember the sacrifices of the people and put this money to good use."

(c) Last Supper at Palace: The members of the Imperial Family who became commoners were honored by the Emperor with a last dinner at the Palace. When the white and red wine had been served, the Emperor arose and addressed the new commoners. He thanked them for having done their duty as Princes of the blood. He said he anticipated various difficulties ahead of them, but hoped they would bear up under them with composure and discretion. Then he said: "This will be your last gathering as Princes and Princesses. But our long bonds cannot be severed even if we tried. Please retain the same sentiments as you have held in the past, and should you want to consult me on any matter, do not hesitate to call on me."

(d) Reaction of Former Princes: The reaction and hopes of the former Princes were expressed in an interview by one of them, KANIN Haruhito, who stated, "I did not advocate surrender of our princely status, for I believed we Princes had a role to play, too. but having become a commoner, I feel my responsibilities have become lighter. Our most important mission in a democratic Japan is to transform the Imperial House into a democratic institution. The central figure of all this democracy. of course, is the Emperor. But the Emperors own strength is not sufficient for this purpose. Now that the military clique has been abolished and there are no more Genro (Elder Statesmen) to assist his Majesty, I believe it is our duty to assist the Throne. If we former members of the Imperial Family are to form what might be called an Imperial House Group, we must determine for our selves the future course we are to follow so that this Imperial House Group will be recognized in keeping our national polity and the ways of out new Japan."

Comment: It is evident that the Princes are not happy about losing their royal status and that they dream of forming a powerful clique to take the place of the Elder Statesmen and the Privy Council. They hope to be the power behind the Throne. But these Princes ore men of limited ability and they will find that there is no place in a democracy for Genro of Privy Councils.

GHQ Imperial History: Part V | Nancho Archives | GHQ Imperial History: Part I