Hirohito hērōˈhētō [key], 1901–89, emperor of Japan. He was made regent in 1921 and succeeded his father, Yoshihito (the Taishō emperor), in 1926. He married (1924) Princess Nagako Kuni (1903–2000); a son and heir, Prince Akihito, was born in 1933. For 20 years he reigned as sovereign as Japan went to war in China and the Pacific, and in 1945 he made an unprecedented radio broadcast announcing Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies. Under Allied occupation, he retained the throne, but was transformed from imperial sovereign to democratic symbol. The constitution of 1946 made him “symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” and he became familiar as a marine biologist, family figure, and greeter of foreign heads of state. His Showa (“enlightened peace”) reign was the longest and one of the most turbulent in Japan's history.

See D. Irokawa, The Age of Hirohito (1995); H. P. Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (2000).

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