Japanese Royal Family

Lead: The position of the royal family of Japan has swirled in and between myth and reality until the modern era. Today the Emperor and his kin are respected, even loved, but fulfil a role that is strictly symbolic.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: While Buddhism is Japan’s dominant religion, Shinto is the country’s indigenous faith where originate the ancient creation myths that established the foundation of royal governance. In this mythological tradition, Japanese emperors were thought to possess magical powers and direct divine communication. This cultic role made it unseemly for the emperor to be engaged in day-to-day public administration which was handled by advisors and ministers. From the establishment of the a new capital in Kyoto in the late eighth century, a city following a Chinese design, real power was wielded behind the throne in alternating succession by two powerful clans, Fujiwara and Taira.

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History’s Turning Points: Japan Discovers the Gun II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: Japan rediscovers the gun.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In 1543, visiting Portuguese explorers jumped from the deck of a Chinese commercial ship into Japanese shallow waters and with their muskets shot a duck. The unfavorable results on the duck were duly noted by Lord Tokitaka, who purchased from the Portuguese two guns and commissioned his swordsmiths to copy these new weapons. Within a century firearms were playing a widespread, destructive role in the dynastic and feudal warfare consuming the Japanese upper class. These weapons were very good, indeed the Japanese significantly improved on comparable European designs. One such innovation was waterproof rain protection for the ignition platform, but soon the Japanese abandoned firearms and mostly returned to hand-held weapons such as the sword and the bow and arrow.

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History’s Turning Points: Japan Discovers the Gun I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: Japan rediscovers the gun.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Japan has taken a well-earned place in the modern era as a seat of much industrial innovation. Within 60 years of the visit of Commodore Perry in 1855, Japan had wrenched itself so significantly into the contemporary world that its navy had inflicted havoc on Russian naval forces at the Battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War, sending the pride of the Czar’s fleet to the bottom of the Sea of Japan. In another thirty-six years, Japan would temporarily humble the world’s preeminent industrial power at Pearl Harbor.

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Japanese Naval Alliance I

Lead: In 1902, Great Britain ended a century of splendid isolation and cut a deal with Japan.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For nearly a century the oceans of the world were dominated by the British Navy. It was technologically superior to any other and was backed by an industrial economy that overshadowed all others until the late 1800s when other nations such as Germany, France, Russia and the United States began to catch up. The power of this naval machine was so overwhelming that Britain was permitted a freedom of action unequaled as it established and maintained the largest empire in the modern era. By 1900 this power was under challenge. The greatest threat to British interests at this time was in the Far East. The Chinese Empire was set to rot. Various European powers were nibbling around the edge of that Eastern giant. It could hardly handle its own internal affairs much less resist pressure from the modern states of the West. The weakness of the Chinese meant that Britain had to protect her trading interests there against the infringement of other powers. Russia was expanding into areas of special British interest along Russia's borders: Manchuria in northern China, northern India, and Persia. Germany, France and the United States were increasing their navies which threatened Britain's link with her colonies.

 

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Empress Jingu II

Lead: Through the indigenous Shinto religion delivered orally and then in written form after the 8th century, the Japanese are closely tied to their ancestral roots.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The earliest records of Japanese history were written in the eighth century. The Kojiki or Records of Ancient Matters along with the Nihongi or Chronicles of Japan were ordered to be compiled by the imperial court and were written in Chinese. Besides written language, the Chinese introduced new forms of art and literature as well as Buddhist and Confucian theologies.

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Empress Jingu I

Lead: Until the 700s, the mystical traditions and religious beliefs of Shinto were part of Japanese oral history. After that they were transmitted in writing, Chinese writing.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Written communication was not introduced to Japan until the 5th century and then by Chinese. Japanese myths and history were transmitted orally by the Japanese until the eighth century.

At that time imperial court of Japan ordered a compilation of texts to include ancient beliefs and customs as well as more recent official records of Japanese history. With no distinctively Japanese written language, the two texts were written in Chinese. The Nihongi or Chronicles of Japan compiled in 720 covers the myths and legends of ancient Japan beginning with the first Emperor “Jimmu,” who ascended his throne in 660 BCE. The Nihongi consists of thirty chapters with the later chapters more historically accurate and including records of the arrival of Buddhism in Japan in the 6th century and records of the imperial family, government, and powerful Japanese clans.

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Japan’s Morohito Hosakawa

Lead: In the summer of 1993, Japan's prime minister appeared to be the herald of vast changes in Japanese life. Less than a year later his resignation under fire revealed how much a part he was of that which was traditional and old in Japan.

Content: Morihiro Hosokawa was the youngest prime minister since World War II and his cabinet the youngest on record. He brought women into the national political process as never before. Social Democrat Takako Doi (Tah-KAH-koe DOE-ee) served as speaker of the lower house and a record three women were appointed to cabinet posts. Hosokawa held regular new conferences, informally talking to the press corps in shirt sleeves. He promised not only political reform but a new, more open approach to international relations. The prime minister stunned Japan's wartime generation when he took office, by saying that World War II was a "war of aggression, and it was wrong." Despite a genuine pro-American bias he refused to bend to pressure and rejected a face-saving statement on trade when appearing with President Bill Clinton in Washington in the winter of 1994. At the time of the crisis leading to his resignation, he was the most popular Japanese prime minster ever.

 

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Battle of Midway III

Lead: In the late spring of 1942, two great armadas met off the Midway Islands.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Isoroku Yamamoto opposed the war with America. He had served as Naval Attaché at the Japanese Embassy in Washington and knew first-hand how lethal was the power of the giant American democracy once awakened. However, when the decision to go to war was made he insisted that Japan’s only hope for victory was a surprise attack which would cripple U.S. forces in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor proved him right but he had missed the American aircraft carriers on December 7th, because they were at sea on maneuvers. Yamamoto was back in the Central Pacific in late May 1942 to take out those carriers and to establish an early warning picket line anchored by the two tiny Midway Islands at the tip of the Hawaiian archipelago 1300 miles northeast of Honolulu.

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