British officials, concerned about how Japan's
royal family was developing after World War II, examined
ways in 1954 of molding the institution along the lines
of its own monarchy, according to government files
released Sunday at the National Archives in London.
While supporting the postwar Constitution, which shifted
sovereignty from Emperor Hirohito to the people,
officials believed the United States and Prime Minister
Shigeru Yoshida had not given enough thought to how the
monarchy should function, and its role was hazy.
They felt the American authorities failed to understand
that a royal family should be treated with dignity. And
as a result, members of the royal family had been put in
some demeaning positions.
Diplomats also noted a small revival of support for the
prewar position of the monarchy -- when it was decreed
that the emperor was all powerful and descended from
gods -- and wanted Japan to maintain a constitutional
In a dispatch to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden in June
1954, Henry Brain, a minister at the British Embassy in
Tokyo, also said that the monarchy lacked funds, making
it harder for members of the Japanese royal family to
carry out their roles properly.
He recommended there should be a formal channel of
communication between politicians and the emperor, along
the lines of the British system, so that the monarch was
kept abreast of current affairs.