Books: Why Disturb Tranquillity?

JOURNEY TO THE Missouri (282 pp.]—Toshikazu Kase—Yale University ($4).

Japan took the big decision in an imperial conference on Sept. 6, 1941: war against the U.S. unless the U.S. backed down on China by early October. The proposal of the supreme command was blunt and final; Hirohito's civilian ministers accepted it. Apparently only Hirohito himself felt called upon to make any further observations. He pulled out a poem that had been written by his grandfather, the Emperor Meiji, and read it aloud:

When I regard all the world

As my own brothers,

Why is it that its tranquillity

Should be so thoughtlessly disturbed?

"All the participants were...

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