On December 7, 1941 Japan effectively destroyed the notion that the United States was a refuge where invasion was no longer a concern. Six days earlier Emperor Hirohito of Japan signed a “Declaration of War” against the United States and the British Empire. The declaration was not published until December 8. This made the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor possible. The accordion-style document shown in the exhibition is a limited copy of the Declaration of War. The Declaration begins with a religious plea followed by the Japanese view of their role in the war:
We, by grace of heaven, Emperor of Japan, seated on the Throne of a line unbroken for ages eternal, enjoin upon ye, Our loyal and brave subjects:
We hereby declare War on the United States of America and the British Empire. The men and officers of Our Army and Navy shall do their utmost in prosecuting the war. Our public servants of various departments shall perform faithfully and diligently their respective duties; the entire nation with a united will shall mobilize their total strength so that nothing will miscarry in the attainment of Our war aims.
Japanís Declaration of War on the United States and Great Britain.
1 December 1941.
To insure the stability of East Asia and to contribute to world peace is the far-sighted policy which was formulated by Our Great Illustrious Imperial Grandsire and Our Great Imperial Sire succeeding Him, and which We lay constantly to heart. To cultivate friendship among nations and to enjoy prosperity in common with all nations, has always been the guiding principle of Our Empire’s foreign policy. It has been truly unavoidable and far from Our wishes that Our Empire has been brought to cross swords with America and Britain. More than four years have passed since China, failing to comprehend the true intentions of Our Empire, and recklessly courting trouble, disturbed the peace of East Asia and compelled Our Empire to take up arms.
Then concluding by invoking help from revered ancestors and support by Japanese citizens, The Declaration of War comes full circle:
The hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors guarding Us from above, We rely upon the loyalty and courage of Our subjects in Our confident expectation that the task bequeathed by Our forefathers will be carried forward and that the sources of evil will be speedily eradicated and an enduring peace immutably established in East Asia.