JAPAN: Our Kingly Way

A Japanese habit is to keep the death of a national figure secret for hours or even days, the idea being that his successor can be quietly appointed by the Sublime Emperor in the interval, without too much influential squabbling or eruptions of popular unrest. One day last week studious Emperor Hirohito and shy Empress Nagako dispatched to mud-walled Changchun, the sleazy capital of their puppet state Manchukuo, a great ceremonial basket of fruit, traditional Japanese gift to the dying.

Changchun was sure that Manchukuo's real ruler, not the puppet Henry Pu...

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