One of the major on-going debates to be found modern Japanese history is about the role Emperor Hirohito played in the war. Was he blameless — as decided by the American occupying forces after the way, or was he an architect and director of Japan’s action?
Hirohito And The Making Of Modern Japan comes down firmly on the latter side. Author Herbert P. Bix offers a long, detailed, and insightful look at the reign of the Showa emperor. The book peels back the story that Hirohito was a powerless rubber stamp monarch during the Second World War and instead was a key force behind the war in China and Japan's disastrous participation on the Pacific front.
At times the wartime politics got a little hard to track (mostly because of a lack of a straight timeline) but the post war section about all the efforts - US and Japanese - to shield the emperor from blame was brilliant.