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[00:00:01]

What's that, my new money toolbox, here's a song to help cut down my mortgage. And a spanner to tighten my outgoings. What's the hammer for nailing my credit card debt? I want to see more for free independent tools and calculators to help you manage your money. Visit CPK, dorahy forward slash money tools.

[00:00:27]

From the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. They're putting together a kind of home guard of high school students armed with sharpened bamboo spears, and they're expected to take on the Americans and British when they land on the beaches, literally. So you can imagine the bloodbath that the allies would have faced.

[00:00:49]

The sat around the emperor finally goes to the emperor and say, you've just got to withdraw support from this man. He's getting too powerful.

[00:00:57]

He did not regret the war. He did not regret Pearl Harbor. And he believed that he acted honorably. Extreme nationalism and extreme racism ends up giving the permission to act in a bestial, dehumanised way. It's late 1942, and General Hideki Tojo, Japan's wartime prime minister, is right up against it.

[00:01:25]

Since losing the battle of Midway at the hands of the U.S. Navy, the momentum of World War two has shifted decisively. America is closing in on Japanese territory. The prospect of defeat looms, but Tojo is unmoved. Japan must not go quietly. My name is Paul McGann and welcome to Real Dictators, the series that explores the hidden lives of tyrants such as Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao and Kim Jong Il. In this episode, we return to Japan, the final chapter in the story of General Hideki Tojo, the man who led Japan into the Second World War and oversaw one of the deadliest conflicts ever witnessed.

[00:02:10]

From Noisey podcasts, this is real dictators. The strange thing is, I think that he stayed in power as long as he did, because Japan already by the end of 1942 is on the downward curve. And you just thought that already by this point that Tokyo would be his position would be difficult because defeat and losing face is always problematic. So in a sense, one is surprised that Tejo continued for another two years.

[00:03:02]

The only way to rescue the war was the prime minister sees it is to get even more stock in the shops to take hands on control of the army, even though he has minimal battlefield experience. Francis Pike is a historian, an expert on Japan and author of Hirohito's War in this period.

[00:03:22]

Of course, he brings more and more power to himself. He takes over the education ministry, takes over the munitions ministries and his own name. The naval minister is also in his pocket. He has more power to himself than any other prime minister one has seen in the last major period. Then finally, in February 1944, he actually gets rid of the General Tsuyama, who's head of the army, and takes on that role as well as chief of the army.

[00:03:49]

So this is an extraordinary concentration of power, which speaks a lot of, I would say, touches totalitarian abilities in the same way as Stalin or even a Putin that say. Technically, Tojo reports to the Emperor Hirohito, but in practice it doesn't exactly work like that. Dr. Anthony Best from the London School of Economics, is an expert in Japanese history and politics. What we understand is the emperor is head of the armed forces. So the Army chief of staff, the Navy chief of staff report not to the cabinet.

[00:04:25]

They report directly to the emperor himself. Theoretically, that means that the emperor has a lot of power in directing military activity. But the emperor has been told that he must rule as a constitutional monarch. And the advice from the court again and again is do not get involved in politics. Well, obviously, military issues become extremely political. So most of the time, his attitude is very much hands off. Occasionally, he will make rather abstract comments in an attempt to guide the army in the direction he wants to go, but he won't give direct orders.

[00:05:01]

There are very few occasions when he does. Tojo may have succeeded in gathering power to himself, but his is a Pyrrhic victory. Now it's all on him. There's no way he can duck responsibility as and when things go wrong. The situation Tojo faces would challenge even the most experienced military commander. US forces are cutting off Japan's newly won oilfields throughout Southeast Asia. The pressure is well and truly on to avoid not just a crushing military defeat, but also a catastrophic economic collapse.

[00:05:42]

Tojo is desperate, a wounded animal backed into a corner is liable to do something drastic, and so he endorses a bizarre scheme to invade the rich and heavily defended subcontinent of British India. His plan is to knock the British out of the war. With one of the key allies down, the others will surely be forced to take notice of Japan's demands. Tokyo's ignorance of how to fight a war of this sort is clear right from the start. The army simply doesn't have the supplies or support systems to mount a successful invasion of an enormous, heavily fortified landmass like India.

[00:06:23]

Mark Felton is a military historian and author of books on Japan and World War Two, the Japanese sekhon very rapidly because they don't have the medical facilities. So they're all dying of dysentery and malaria and everything else. They're logistic train involves basically marching 30000 cattle in with them, which are very soon used up. Unfortunately, for the size of the army, they expected to capture the allied dumps, all our supply dumps, which they don't. And then, of course, the wheels come off very quickly off their offensive.

[00:06:58]

In two key battles in northeast India on the border with Burma at Gahima and Empower, Tojo's underfed and exhausted troops are decimated. But rather than let them retreat and regroup, he demands that they fight to the bitter end.

[00:07:15]

The ordinary Japanese soldier was expected to become some kind of superhuman warrior. His job was quite simple. Kill the enemy and die. Trying if necessary. Do not retreat and never surrender. Simple as that. There's a lot of infighting amongst the generals. They can't really decide how to run this campaign properly. So it ends up with the Japanese just expending their armed services in basically futile attacks. The British comment, quite interestingly, at nymphal in other places, the Japanese will launch frontal attacks, which are then beaten back with huge losses.

[00:07:51]

The next day they will do exactly the same thing again, in the same spot at the same time. And again. And again. And again. And to us, that seems extraordinary. But of course, to the officers on the ground, they're not being paid to think. They're being paid to take objectives. And they will take the objective no matter what happens. And it shows you again, how little they care for the lives of their men as well as the ordinary Japanese soldier is just simply a tool of the emperor, is something to be thrown away, if necessary, in the defence of those ideals.

[00:08:22]

General Slim, the British commander of the 14th Army, is now on the cusp of liberating Burma from the Japanese. Finally, physically incapable of continuing the fight, Tojo's troops forced into a retreat, cut off with no supplies. They lose more than a third of their men.

[00:08:42]

When they eventually decide to pull back, they pull back in disarray. The divisions have been decimated in fighting. The sickness levels are extraordinary. I mean, probably for every one person who's injured or killed in battle, 30 or 50 of them are sick and not having the proper logistical train, not having the aircraft to fly people out the field hospitals. This is the real problem. Starvation sets in. Japanese soldiers are literally wandering around the jungle starving to death.

[00:09:07]

There are instances of cannibalism break out amongst Japanese troops, and this happens in other places during Japanese defeats as well. Command and control breaks down. Japanese troops continue to fight. That's not a problem. But they're so weakened and so badly supplied by this stage. The new fourteens army under General Slim has a real chance now to push on and liberate Burma from the Japanese quite quickly, which is a very, very important point. So we're talking thirteen and a half thousand Japanese dead in battle, another thirty five, forty thousand sick and injured.

[00:09:42]

So really what they've done is use up a vast amount of men who could have been used to hold Burma for a very, very long time. They've expended their last reserves on an ill thought out campaign. And now they've basically opened the way for the British commonwealth to come in with the Americans in the north and retake these very important colonies.

[00:10:07]

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[00:10:23]

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[00:10:33]

From the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. It's a pattern playing out right across different theaters of conflict. General Tojo's cruelty to his enemies is matched by a total indifference to the suffering of the men under his command. One has to remember the Japanese army really after 1943, couldn't really feed its own soldiers, let alone its prisoners of war. If you look at the campaigns in the South Pacific, for every Japanese soldier killed by a bullet or by a mortar or by a bomb, 10 of them died of disease and starvation, at least 10 to one.

[00:11:12]

Their army starved to death on Bougainville. As many as 40000 soldiers starved to death after the battle of inpart in their retreat from inpart. It's estimated that thirty six thousand Japanese soldiers died of starvation and disease on the retreat. That's out of an army of 90000 soldiers.

[00:11:34]

On the British side, you have hospitals set up immediately because they know the problem of tropical disease. I mean, it's a really, really big issue. The Japanese suffer just as badly from these tropical diseases, but the Japanese don't waste time and money on worrying about this because, I mean, for example, medics and the Japanese army carry weapons. They're expected basically to stop treating the wounded and fight as ordinary soldiers when it comes down to it. So they have this very, very badly organized logistical train and hospital train.

[00:12:05]

Now, the other problem is, obviously, you don't need all of this anyway because these guys are expected to stand and fight and die as simple as that. So why bother? I mean, it's not really an issue. The generals also I mean, they suffer just as badly as the men. Many of them die of disease. And if it all goes wrong, what do you do? You take a sword and you insert it in your stomach.

[00:12:27]

And that's the end of that. I mean, that's the honor code that's there. So if the generals are prepared to commit suicide, the ordinary privates are expected to fight to the death or indeed die gloriously in battle. Banzai charge against the enemy regardless of how badly injured they are.

[00:12:42]

I remember my own grandfather talking about, you know, fighting in fowl, for example, that even the wounded would try to attack you. They often had hand grenades hidden amongst their bandages or clothing, even if they were treated the moment they came round and they found themselves inside British or Indian field hospitals, they would immediately start tearing at their wounds, trying to open their wounds up so they would die. Beggars belief from our own point of view. Back in Tokyo, it's becoming increasingly clear that the war cannot be won, Tojo and Japan of overstretched.

[00:13:20]

The prime minister is under mounting political pressure, is working overtime to stamp out dissent. Rumors abound of assassination plots simply things are getting beyond his control. There's increasing carping about him from every element of the government. He's a defeated political leader. He's a defeated warlord. If he's seen as in charge of the army, certainly by 1944. Time is running, running out. Well, he's up against a systemic problem. There is no way in which the Japanese economy can compete with the United States when it's clear that United States morale is not going to break.

[00:13:59]

And after that, it doesn't matter who's in charge. It can be anyone. It can be a military genius. The simple fact is they got a juggernaut heading at them and there is nothing they can do about it. I mean, the amount of material the Americans are able to produce in the war is astronomical.

[00:14:16]

But Tojo simply will not give in neither to the allies military pressure in the field nor to political pressure back home. Instead of suing for peace, Tojo decides to up the ante. As his Indian adventure crumbles, he turns his attention to the Pacific Front, and if he has to sacrifice civilians as well as soldiers and so be it, the people in Japan by this stage in the last year of the war are being heavily indoctrinated into fighting the Americans and the British.

[00:14:51]

Also, we see the kamikaze phenomenon. There's a glorification of this self-sacrifice, the divine wind being sent out to destroy the American invader. These are kind of rock star heroes of World War two, Japan. These young guys, many of them not necessarily volunteers, often pressured into doing this who are going off and driving their planes into American aircraft carriers. So it's total war. And with total war, it means total and utter destruction. People like Tojo and his friends are going to drag Japan absolutely into the abyss before they will surrender.

[00:15:28]

And the same thing happens in Germany. Hitler's famous Gerta Demerol order that everything must perish, everything must be destroyed if National Socialism cannot continue. So we see this similar thing happening in Japan.

[00:15:42]

In June 1944, the US fleet attacks the Pacific island of Saipan. It's all set up to be a pivotal battle located west of Hawaii and south of Japan itself, Saipan is extremely strategically important. It's the gateway to Japan's home islands. This is a fight that Tojo absolutely cannot afford to lose. But Sipan does fall along with the islands of Tinian and Guam. As American troops swarm ashore, they met with resistance that, while diminished, is still surprising in its ferocity.

[00:16:25]

The general defending Sipan follows Tojo's orders and fights to the death along with most of his men. The numbers are staggering. Out of a force of 31000 Japanese troops, 24000 are killed in battle and 5000 commit suicide. Only a handful are taken prisoner. In Tokyo, the propaganda machine keeps the scale of the defeat a secret from the Japanese people. But for the military high command, this cataclysmic setback triggers panic. Nobody expected Sipan to fall so quickly, Saipan and Tinian were critical because eventually they'd been colonized by the Japanese, so they sent big population groups and they'd really made them culturally Japanese islands.

[00:17:11]

This was a huge loss of face. One of the key items were falling and falling quite quickly. So that was a big problem. The second big issue, maybe even more important, is that they realized that this is where America could base its be 29 Boeing super fortress bombers. And from there, they knew that the Americans would bomb the hell out of Japan, which is exactly what happened. And this was a, you know, an appalling fate that they now had to expect.

[00:17:44]

There had been some attacks from the super fortress based in southern China. And actually Operation Ichigo had wiped out those airfields. They actually pushed out the Americans from those airfields in southern China. So they got rid of that threat. But having lost iPad and Tinian and go out, there was no way out that they knew that they now face unremitting airplane attack.

[00:18:08]

As the news leaks out into the broader populace, the emperor himself, Hirohito even offers to abdicate. That's how detrimental this defeat is to Japan. Standing to its self-respect, the talk in Tokyo begins to shift towards negotiating some kind of settlement with the U.S. But in terms of the day to day running of the country and the military, General Tojo is still in charge and he is having none of it. Far worse is in store for the people of Sipan.

[00:18:47]

By July 1944, Japan's war is virtually over, the US is on the brink of clinching victory. General Hideki Tojo knows it. In desperation, Tojo issued an order that takes the horrors of the Pacific theater to a whole new level. Japanese government propaganda convinces the residents of Sopan that they will be subjected to unimaginable horrors by the invading Americans. To avoid this unspeakable fate, the only thing to do is to take the honourable way out. Near the northern tip of Sopan, a tall spear of land juts into the ocean today, it's known simply as suicide cliff as the Americans advance across the island.

[00:19:37]

Hundreds of Japanese civilians and soldiers leap 600 feet to their deaths off this grassy knoll and onto the rocks and churning white foam below. The American soldiers are astonished as wave after wave of people commit suicide. Teams of guys and dinghies circle the island, navigating the bays and inlets to drag the corpses to shore. Dr. Michael Lynch, historian and author. Sipan, rather like Midway, is the great formative determining experience for Japan in the Second World War, because one Sipan was lost, the war clearly was lost.

[00:20:17]

What's remarkable about the taking of the island is the response of Japanese civilians on the island who to a man and woman chose to kill themselves rather than be taken prisoner. And we have stories of hundreds literally leaping off cliffs, disemboweling as well within the caves. The American troops found this extraordinary. They offered the quarter and they broadcast a day through loudspeakers. You can surrender. Nobody we know actually responded positively to that. They've been taught brainwashed, really, from the late 30s that America was the great evil and that if you were taken prisoner, the Americans would not show mercy.

[00:20:57]

They weren't aware. The ordinary Japanese, of course, of their own troops were doing, but they feared that rape, bestiality, savagery, cruelty would follow if they felt prisoner. And so in their thousands and sipan, they prefer to jump to their death rather than submit. Now, this is an extraordinary revelation about the character of Japanese thinking. By that time, it's become so extreme, the war effort, that death is preferable to a dishonorable surrender.

[00:21:26]

Again, it in a sense, it explains the prisoner of war question. But in terms of civilians, they, too, have been trained in that way of thinking. And they give that terrifying expression of that in their response to the fall of cyper. The precise detail of the decision making process is unclear. But it's suspected that told you may have persuaded the emperor to order the suicides or at least sanction them.

[00:21:50]

So Hirohito and we know this from some archival sources, Hirohito sent a personal message to the civilians in Saipan.

[00:21:59]

He said, kill yourselves rather than submit to American occupation. If you kill yourselves, I will grant you the same recognition as soldiers who die in battle. So you will be honored at the Yasukuni Shrine along with all the soldiers who died.

[00:22:16]

Now, of course, these people are heavily indoctrinated that they believe this.

[00:22:19]

And over a thousand people did indeed commit terrible suicide, threw themselves off cliffs and cut their children's throats and blew themselves up with the soldiers and everything like this. So it's a tragedy and a terrible tragedy on on a terrible scale. And it shows, one, how close the imperial family are to these events and it shows how callous and heartless the Japanese military actually was in extending these kind of policies, not just from soldiers to civilians. The perverse reasoning goes that if the people were to surrender, they'll actually be pretty well looked after by the eyes.

[00:22:56]

And the only thing worse than Sopan falling would be for the Japanese captives to discover that Americans are not as evil as the propaganda has claimed. Now, there was a great fear amongst the higher echelons of the Japanese command, particularly Tojo and Hirohito, that the Americans would treat Japanese civilians well. And they did. That was the point.

[00:23:18]

So they knew that if large numbers of Japanese civilians fall into American hands and instead of being raped and murdered, as the Japanese told the civilians, this is what's going to happen to you. The Americans are going to treat you the same as we treated the Chinese in Nanjing or whatever. Imagine they put these people onto newsreels and onto the radio and transmit this information into Japan. Don't worry. We will treat you like human beings. We will treat you well, give you medical care and feed the children all sorts of things that could potentially cause some kind of revolutionary activity in Japan, because obviously, by this stage, many Japanese cities are starting to be bombed.

[00:23:58]

Japan is short of food because of the allied submarine campaign is very, very successful. People are not necessarily pro-war anymore. They're beginning to suffer personally now.

[00:24:09]

So you've got people who've been indoctrinated with the idea that the American arrival is going to be awful. In addition, they've been brainwashed to follow the emperor. But there are cases where it's indicated that, in fact, these people are not jumping voluntarily. They are being, in essence, coerced into jumping by the army through Japanese history.

[00:24:30]

Those who find themselves in a position where they have been dishonored and they have brought dishonor on their families will commit suicide and the authorities are playing on that and manipulating it for their own ends.

[00:24:55]

But these needless deaths on Sopan will not save the general known as the razor. Is emperor is finally losing patience. The rumor starts to spread that Emperor Hirohito no longer has faith in Tojo or his administration. For the man who holds the offices of prime minister, Army minister, army chief of staff and many others, it's an extraordinary reversal of fortune. There's nowhere left to turn, he's out. Tojo has never been the head of state. He's just the head of government.

[00:25:33]

But much of his rule, this has been mere semantics, but now, right at the last, the one man who sits above him in the pyramid is pulling the plug. Tojo's last act as prime minister is to broadcast the news of the fall of Sopan to a shocked and frightened nation.

[00:25:51]

His popularity was so high when the war was going well, and it's almost complete inverse when the war goes badly and Sipan is the key one we mentioned, it swings totally against him.

[00:26:03]

Well, I guess the news got worse, Hirohito by the house, we do have become increasingly nifty in terms of getting cross with treasure and his generals for not performing. He's pretty unrealistic in terms of what he expects here. He said, I don't think has any real sense of the impossible problems in logistics facing the Japanese army. So it just becomes more difficult. But he has such a grip on the administration of government, which is not that easy to remove.

[00:26:35]

And I think finally what happens is the sat around the emperor finally goes to him and say, you've just got to withdraw support from this man. He's getting too powerful. He's the top guy. He's taking on more and more power. But things are getting worse and worse. He has to go. I think Hirohito's advisors sense that he eventually managed to persuade him that you had to go. As soon as Treasury finds out that the emperor has withdrawn his support, he's got nowhere to go.

[00:27:03]

He has to resign. On July the 18th, 1944, Hideki Tojo steps down as prime minister of Japan. His career may be finished, but he's built a war machine that cannot simply be switched off. Things will get far worse for the Japanese people, worse even than the mass civilian suicides on sideband. Now, although he's no longer leading Japan after July 54, his legacy, the military legacy, which he was a great spokesman for, is that we end in this way we don't surrender, which is why they taught the children, you will die in the cause of the emperor and the empire.

[00:27:42]

So although he's very unpopular personally, what he's left after four years of leadership is this notion that's become part of the culture of Japan, that the samurai and the honorable end is the only way that we as Japanese can face the unbearable as heretical. We have no other choice. Toto's legacy finds form in the Banzai charges the kamikaze pilots hurtling to their deaths and the senseless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians for another year to come. By 1945, a development in military technology has produced a new way to potentially bring the Japanese war machine to a halt.

[00:28:32]

America is in possession of a powerful new weapon, the likes of which the world has never seen. But to deploy this weapon would be an act that cannot be undone, to launch it would be to break terrifying new ground. Now, at the same time, in Japan, they're putting together a kind of home guard of high school students armed with sharpened bamboo spears, and they're expected to take on the Americans and British when they land on the beaches, literally.

[00:29:02]

So you can imagine the bloodbath the allies would have faced. Imagine if we get into mainland Japan and we have to face down an entire armed civilian population, millions and millions of Japanese whose only goal is to kill us. This could have been casualties beyond anything yet seen. On August the 6th, 1945, Japan fails to respond to a warning and a demand for unconditional surrender. The first atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima. It kills between 66000 and 130000 people.

[00:29:45]

Then three days later, on August the 9th, the US drops a second bomb on the city of Nagasaki. After this second devastating blow, an utterly defeated Japan accepts it must surrender. Such as the sheer scale of civilian casualties and the trauma felt by the survivors. Debate will rage amongst historians the world over as to America's actions in this final chapter of the Pacific War. The fighting may be over. But Pandora's Box has been opened. The world is now nuclear and will never be the same again.

[00:30:29]

It's September 1945 and the Second World War is over. The task that remains is to round up Japan's war criminals and put them on trial. It's this mission which brings a team of American soldiers to a suburban house in Tokyo right where our story began. As the judges storm the property, they're confronted by the sight of their nemesis, the disgraced former prime minister of Japan, Hideki Tojo, slumped in an armchair, blood pouring from his gut. Desperate to escape, the allies court and the hangman's noose is attempted to take his own life.

[00:31:10]

It's not gone exactly to plan whether intentionally or by accident is missed, the X marked in charcoal over his heart and instead fired his pistol straight into his stomach, is seriously wounded, but alive. The soldiers rushed him to the 98 evacuation hospital. An American infantryman, Sergeant John Arcangel of Allentown, Pennsylvania, lies bare chested on a bed, he's volunteered to provide the blood for an emergency transfusion. The transfusion is successful. Tojo comes into a recovery room surrounded by soldiers, nurses and reporters.

[00:31:55]

Turns out he will live to answer the charges against him. Tojo's dental hygiene is so poor, his teeth are decaying and crumbling out of his gums, is speeches impaired and he needs to be able to answer questions in court.

[00:32:10]

A 22 year old U.S. Navy officer called Jack Mallory is given the unique task of inspecting the general's mouth and prescribing a solution. Mallory is summoned to Tsukumo prison, we're told you, is now being held. He finds the general propped up in bed blankets covering his legs with a bandage wrapped around his abdomen and a head full of rotting teeth. Mallory's professional recommendation is for a full set of dentures. The Navy's dentist can't resist the opportunity to get one over on Japan's fallen warlord and to commemorate comrades lost in battle, so he inscribed something on the false teeth.

[00:32:52]

When Tojo puts them on, a secret message sits right above the tip of his tongue. It's in Morse code, so no one notices. The series of dots and dashes reads Remember Pearl Harbor? Back on his feet, teeth fixed up, Tojo is put on trial for war crimes. The general is led into the hearing flanked by guards. He takes a seat on a bench and awaits his fate. Behind him sits another Japanese defendant, Schumi Achour.

[00:33:28]

Achour is known as the Japanese gerbils, is a nationalist writer, the only man indicted as a class a war criminal who is not an official member of the army or government. As the clerk begins to read the indictments, Achour squirms in his seat, he starts talking gibberish, much to the bafflement of the soldiers guarding him. Then, with a cheeky grin, he extends an arm forward and slaps the bald head of General Tojo. In previous days, such mockery would have earned Achour a severe beating at the very least, if not a death sentence.

[00:34:06]

Now it gets him a psychiatric assessment. The doctors find a cure is suffering from advanced syphilis. Slapped on the head in full view of the watching international media, Tojo's humiliation is complete.

[00:34:22]

And as the trial resumes, things go from bad to worse with a former general is found guilty of seven war crimes he's put on trial, acquits himself as a soldier at the trial, does not apologize for the war, says that the war was an honorable war, was dedicated to Japan's survival as a nation, and that although things may have happened in the war he might now regret, he didn't specify. He did not regret the war.

[00:34:47]

He did not regret Pearl Harbor. And he believed he acted on it, but he accepted it since he believes he was at the mercy of the victims, doesn't attempt suicide again, as far as we know, excepts hanging. Tojo's trial mirrors those of the leading Nazis taking place in Europe, just as in many ways his regime mirrored that of Hitler's. It does mirror the Holocaust and the brutalities of Nazi Germany, which is where the connection between the fascism in Germany and the supposed fascism in Japan seemed to come together.

[00:35:20]

Extreme nationalism and extreme racism ends up giving the permission to act in a bestial, dehumanised way in the closing stages of the trial before sentencing, Tojo does offer some apology to the court for the atrocities committed by the army under his name. But it's too little, far too late. Tojo was hanged on December the 21st, 1948. At the last is dressed in plain prison garb with no military insignia to designate his rank. Tojo dies, abandoned by the emperor he lived to serve and whose power he wielded to terrible effect.

[00:36:06]

Controversially, the allies consent to Hirohito remaining Japan's head of state. He will stay in office right up until his death in 1989. Could he have done more to rein in his prime minister? Or was the emperor pretty powerless to stop Tojo, Hirohito's legacy will hardly be contested for years to come. It will prove complex to navigate. Tojo, by contrast, is largely expunged from the collective memory. Today, he's largely absent from Japanese textbooks, and in the West, he remains unknown to many.

[00:36:45]

In the decades following World War Two, Japan rebuilds as a strong and stable democracy, as well as an economic powerhouse. In this new country, a legacy of General Hideki Tojo has little place. A years of suicidal militarism over. Compared to Hitler and Mussolini, there was no great cult of personality around Headachy told you he wasn't some kind of charismatic messiah for the far right. He didn't seize power in a coup. Ruling under the Emperor, Tojo was not formally a dictator.

[00:37:24]

His was the story of a minister who outgrew his master. He was a workaholic who climbed the greasy pole slowly but surely building a power base from the shadows. He ruled with cold, ruthless efficiency and often from behind a desk. He was a bureaucrat in this way, without fanfare, Tojo wielded terrible power. He led a nation into an all consuming war from which it emerged profoundly scarred and traumatized. Thankfully, today in modern Japan, it Iquitos your belongs resolutely in the past.

[00:38:19]

Real dictators, as presented by me, Paul McGann. The show was created by Pascal Hughes, produced by Joel de Dell, edited by Katrina Hughes. The music was composed and assembled by Oliver Baines from Fire Brigade. The strings were recorded by Dorie Macaulay. The sound mixer is Tom Pink. Real Dictators as a noisy and world media writes co-production. If you haven't already with Twitter followers, wherever you listen to your favorite shows or check us out at Real Dictators Dotcom.