JAPAN: Banzais for the Chrysanthemum Throne

When the somber young prince with the wistful eyes behind thick spectacles ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne, Japan was a rising Pacific power that worshiped both the Emperor's divinity and the potentials of military strength in a world sick of war and attempting unsuccessfully to disarm. That was on Christmas Day, 1926. Last week, with three rousing shouts of "Banzai!" followed by a loud brass fanfare, government and diplomatic notables marked the 50th anniversary of Emperor Hirohito's accession.

The 75-year-old Emperor and Empress Nagako, 73, were lauded by a select audience of 7,500...