Where was Emperor Hirohito during Kyūjō incident ? Did he came in physical contact with the rebels, did they actually tried to dissuade him from surrender ?

2 Answers 2


The coup began after midnight, so unsurprisingly, the emperor was at his residence, which was by then inside a bunker. After the palace was destroyed in May that year, the imperial family moved into a fortified shelter known as the Gobunko full time. Presumably he was in his bed there when the conspirators seized the palace grounds.

According to the Showa Tenno Dokuhaku Roku,

後9時過ぎ署名したので、これですべて確定したと思ったが、陸軍省は、放送がなければ効力がないと思ったか、放送妨害の手段に出た。(...) 宮内省の電話線は切断せられ、御文庫の周囲も兵により包囲された。 幸い空襲のため窓の鉄扉が閉鎖されていたので、私の居るところは兵には判らなかったらしい。

With the signatures after 9pm, I thought everything [i.e. the surrender] was confirmed. However, the Army believed that the decision isn't given effect unless it was broadcast [i.e. the Jewel Voice Broadcast, and decided to interfere with the broadcast . . . The Imperial Household Ministry's phone lines were cut, and soldiers surrounded the area of the Gobunko. However, the windows had been covered with iron plates to protect against air strikes, so the soldiers were not able to determine where I was.

Additionally, according to an unwitting conspirator, Lieutenant Oda Toshiki,


Also, [in the movie Japan's Longest Day] machine guns were aimed in the direction of His Majesty in the Gobunko. This is also incorrect. Imperial Guards would never do such a thing.

In any case, General Tanaka Shizuichi arrived around dawn and persuaded the rebels to stand down. So the emperor never confronted the soldiers face to face.

Incidentally, the Emperor continued to live in the bunker until 1961.

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The Shōwa Emperor and the Kōjun Empress at the bunker, some time after the war.

  • So apparently rebels never found Emperor, but where they actively searching for him or they wanted just the phonograph records ? Was he asleep during whole ordeal ?
    – rs.29
    May 27, 2018 at 10:02
  • Interesting. Why did he live in the bunker after the war? Did he like it there or no money to rebuild the palace?
    – Ne Mo
    May 27, 2018 at 10:08
  • 1
    @rs.29 They were searching for the phonographs because stopping the broadcast was more urgent. They only really needed control over access to the emperor rather than to find him per se.
    – Semaphore
    May 27, 2018 at 10:10
  • @NeMo He didn't want to build a new palace while half of Japan was homeless, but he seemed to have liked it there well enough - he was seen gardening around the entrance and so.
    – Semaphore
    May 27, 2018 at 10:13
  • Nowt as queer as folk.
    – Ne Mo
    May 27, 2018 at 11:08

Also the emperor was not the primary target of the coup. The primary target was the surrender speech which the Emperor had recorded earlier and which were to be played on the radio to announce the already agreed upon surrender to the Japanese people.

The conspirators believed if they could stop the recorded broadcast they would win supporters to their cause and ultimately for his own good, gain control of the emperor without directly confronting him which would have been political suicide.

Soldiers claiming to have a higher understanding of the Emperor's beliefs was not uncommon among Japans solders refusing the orders of their superiors. Such a soldier directly confronting or threatening the Emperor would have been very uncommon.

Anyway not a very well thought out coup.

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