Dai Ichi Bank Building,
Tokyo, Empire of Japan
General Of The Army, Walter Krueger was thinking back to the day when he first arrived and had been helping Jean Faircloth MacArthur clear out the General's inner office at the Dai Ichi bank building. Krueger was having the distinct feeling that he was filling some awfully big shoes and felt woefully out of his depth. He thought back to Mrs. MacArthur putting a consoling hand on his shoulder, as if reading his thoughts, and saying to him “You'll do just fine, Walter. Mac always thought that you were his natural successor in this command. He was disappointed that you retired after the war, last year.” General Krueger had known it was pure political bull, but was far too polite to say so. Though he had great respect for the General and his family, he had no illusions as to who they were, and what they were about.
As the last of the General's belongings were taken out of the office, Mrs. MacArthur hugged General Krueger, and wished him and his wife well in the new posting. And then she was gone, off to retrieve little Arthur IV from their Chinese au pair, Ah Cheu, and see to the travel arrangements back to the United States. He was gracious enough to allow her the use of her late husband's Army Air Force C-54 transport aircraft, “Bataan,” one last time.
General Krueger looked at the lacquered wooden boxes on the desk -his desk- that contained the circlets of five stars, the physical manifestation of his new rank, and felt a weight far heavier than any he had felt before. He was no longer a mere Army commander; he was the face and the voice of U.S. foreign and military policy throughout the Far East now. For better or worse, he was the big cheese in these parts, and it was time for him to yet again slip on the mask, and play the role assigned him. There were so many important things to do, and so little time to accomplish them in.
That first day, he received a steady stream of foreign diplomats, military commanders, and Japanese politicians wishing to curry favor with the occupation authorities.....but the biggest surprise was the impromptu appointment near the end of the day: an incognito visit from none other than His Imperial Highness, The Emperor of Japan himself, Hirohito. In due consideration to this, General Krueger took pause, and had all his phone calls and visits cancelled for the rest of the day, the only exception being for the President of the United States.
And the two men talked. At the normal quitting time, General Krueger excused the SCAP staff, except for his chief of staff. He, along with the Emperor's personal aide, were the only other people present at the meeting. Bottles of the finest plum wine and single-malt Scotch whiskey were exchanged and mutually consumed, all the trappings of power were set aside. If only for that night, two men spoke frankly, not the leader of a vanquished empire and the representative of the victorious alliance that vanquished it, but two men sitting and drinking across a table from each other. They spoke of family, and of military service (the Emperor had been an Army officer as Crown Prince), and spoke frankly of the war. Neither man avoided the subject, and each man spoke from his own perspective, received by the other with courtesy and respect. Having said all that was needed to be said regarding the war, the topic of conversation inevitably turned toward the future. The future is what kept these two men talking all night, into the early morning hours, and out of those discussions came a kernel of understanding, which became the seed of a plan. This plan would allow for Japan to earn time off it's occupation 'for good behavior' and become a regional political and economic powerhouse (if not militarily; they both agreed that Japan's military should never again be oriented toward an offensive footing) in the region. But before that could happen, there were certain criteria that must be met.
To assure that the process of developing the plan continued, both men agreed to meet at the same time every week, duties permitting. They kept to that schedule and after working feverishly but thoroughly on it, were very nearly ready to unveil the plan, in a scheduled press conference, slated to be broadcast in both Japan and in the United States. General Krueger was nervous, having seen to the fulfillment of MacArthur's legacy that Japan should never again be an enemy, and forever be a friend.
The press conference began late, and had every likelihood of running long, as no question from U.S., Allied and Japanese press would be ignored. In an unprecedented move, the Emperor again appeared in public, for only the second time in his life, as the Emperor of Japan. And, to make matters more complicated, he appeared beside the Allied commander for the occupation authority, as equals, thus giving him legitimacy. This would not sit well with the remaining ultra-nationalists around the periphery of government, but it was they who had gotten them into this mess, with their arrogant ways. He would allow them the discomfort of seeing a different path being taken, one which had sufficient inertia, that it could not be changed.
As the press conference began, there was a respectful silence in the room, as the Emperor of Japan entered the room, followed by General Krueger and his newly-appointed deputy, British-Indian Army Field Marshal, William Slim. As the Emperor took his seat, the two officers took a seat to the side, and a little bit behind him, in deference to his status as a sovereign.
“Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed members of the press, I welcome you to the Empire of Japan” said Emperor Hirohito, in Japanese, then he repeated the greeting in accented, but serviceable, English “I am humbled by your appearance here today, on this momentous occasion. I have called this press conference to announce the drafting of a new constitution, which is prerequisite to the normalization of relations with the Allied Powers. Please refer to the press package that you have all been handed, with draft copies of the new constitution inside” every newsman and woman attending the press conference began paging through the package, finding their copies of the document and reading “Ladies and gentlemen, please take a moment to skim the text of the document before we continue” said the Emperor. After a long moment, all the journalists appeared to be satisfied with what they read, and would no doubt be studying the document in further detail later on. Also behind the Emperor, besides the two Allied commanders, were representatives of the regional combatants from all across Asia, most particularly the occupied territories, who had accepted a personal apology from the Emperor beforehand, and an invitation to become a full partner in the peace process, especially after having read the proposed draft of the new Japanese constitution.