Bonhams Voices of the 20th Century sale, to be held in New York on December 6, will include the only extant copy of Emperor Hirohito's recollections of World War Two. It is estimated at US$100,000-150,000.

Transcribed word-for-word by senior diplomat Hidenari Terasaki, the Imperial monologue was dictated to court officials in March–April 1946. Its 173 pages cover events from the Japanese assassination of Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin (1928) to the Emperor's famous Surrender Broadcast recorded on August 14, 1945.

Known in Japanese as Dokuhakuroku, the contents of the monologue lay hidden in the possession of Terasaki's American family until they were published in Japan in 1990 (just after the Emperor's death), causing an instant nationwide sensation. Dictated at a time when Japan's future governance still hung in the balance, Dokuhakuroku throws fascinating and controversial light on the conduct of the Pacific War and the Emperor's role in many key events and decisions.

Writing in the Winter Edition of Bonhams Magazine, Reader in Japanese History at Cambridge University, Barak Kushner, explains: "In this monologue the Emperor's own voice demonstrates that he was neither a puppet of the military, nor entirely pleased with being their toady as military power expanded. Rather, he felt trapped in an imperial position that afforded much prestige but little actual ability to transform that into effective political or even military authority."

Joe Earle, Bonhams Senior Consultant for Japanese Art, said, "Bonhams is thrilled to have been given this opportunity to sell the only extant copy of a document that is critical to our understanding of 20th-century world history."

The Voices of the 20th Century sale will also feature Terasaki's diary for the years 1945–1948 and the English-language diary of Mariko, daughter of Terasaki and his American wife Gwen, giving a teenager's view of the Occupation years.


For further information and images call Pippa MacNeil on +44 (0) 20 7468 8210, or email [email protected] or [email protected]

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Catalogue note:

Autograph manuscript in Japanese, Showa Tenno Dokuhakuroku 昭和天皇独白録 "The Emperor's Monologue," transcribed by Hidenari Terasaki 寺崎英成, 2 volumes, 173 leaves rectos only, 260 × 175 mm, written neatly in pencil (excepting page 1, and marginal notes throughout the two volumes, in black ink), each page numbered at upper left, volume 1, 3 preliminaries, pp. 1–81, volume 2, pp. 82–170, each page with printed ruled lines, and printed name Terasaki Yosen 寺崎用箋 (Terasaki letter paper) at lower left, the two volumes each bound with string in plain paper covers inscribed respectively Daiikken, Dainiken 第一巻、第二巻 (Part 1, Part 2), some light creasing to a few margins.
Provenance: Written by Hidenari Terasaki 寺崎英成 (1900–1951), recovered by his widow Gwen Terasaki (1908-1990) on a visit to Japan in 1958, thence by descent to her children.

Transcription published
Terasaki Hidenari 寺崎英成 and Mariko Terasaki Miller, Showa Tenno Dokuhakuroku, Terasaki Hidenari Goyogakari Nikki 昭和天皇独白 寺崎英成御用掛日記 (The Emperor's Monologue and the Official Diary of Terasaki Hidenari), Tokyo, Bungei Shunju, 1991

Estimate: $100,000 – 150,000

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