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post #390
bio: stu

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· The Flaming R. Kelly
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· Chuck Klosterman
· Deadwood, Seasons 1 & 2

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Notes on a Pandemic
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Empire Record
In Fall 1945, Germany had surrendered, and America was reorienting to point the full weight of its war machine at Japan. In the space of three days, America nuked Japan twice, and Russia declared war on Japan as well (they'd agreed to declare war on Japan three months after V-E Day), invading Manchuria. Japan realized they were done, and that they needed to unconditionaly surrender, or, in the bloodless terms they told themselves, accept the conditions of the Potsdam Conference.

Or, at least, parts of Japan did: the emperor and prime minister did, which would be enough for the US. But World War II Japan was a very weird place--the vast majority of the country had never heard the emperor's voice before he announced their surrender, which he recorded on a phonograph record to be played the next day. As a side note, he recorded the announcement in an obscure formal archaic version of Japanese that most of the people listening to it wouldn't be able to understand.

Again, Japan was a very weird place. It's hard, in 2015, to know exactly how much of the country was actually the cliched "death before dishonor" types who were convinced they needed to fight until they were destroyed rather than surrender and save their country, but this much is true. There was a contingent of generals that held a coup, and the particularly weird nature of the surrender meant that the focus of their coup was trying to capture and destroy the emperor's surrender record--thinking that would be enough to cancel the surrender if they could get on the airwaves themselves and urge the country to fight on.

Just a reminder that this is a country that had lost almost every island base they'd held, was in the process of losing Manchuria, and had had two cities wiped off the map in three days by an Allied superweapon. The generals plan would not have worked, even if it had worked.

The rebels invaded the Imperial palace, but were confused by the layout and wandered for most of the night, taking hostages and killing two people, but were unable to find the record. The record was hidden in a pile of documents and then smuggled out of the palace in a laundry basket filled with women's underwear. They made a second attempt to stop it from being played at the radio station, and failed that. They begged the radio manager to let them address the nation as well to urge them to fight on, which was refused.

After a night of failure, the coup fell apart, and the coup leaders committed suicide. The Japanese surrender went forward.

If I were going to write a movie, this is a top contender for what I'd write it about.

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