The Japanese government lodged protests against two British newspapers today for editorials and news stories about the ailing Emperor Hirohito that carried the headlines "Hell's Waiting for this Truly Evil Emperor" and "Let the Bastard Rot in Hell."
At his weekly news briefing for overseas correspondents, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yoshifumi Matsuda distributed copies of items from the Sun and Daily Star newspapers, both of which blasted the ailing emperor for failing to prevent the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific.
The 87-year-old monarch is in serious but stable condition at Tokyo's Imperial Palace after undergoing massive blood transfusions earlier in the week for an intestinal disorder.
'Some of Foulest Crimes'
The Sun, a mass-circulation tabloid, carried an editorial in Wednesday editions that said "there are two reasons for sadness as Emperor Hirohito lies on his deathbed."
"The first is that he lived as long as he did," the editorial said. "The second is that he died unpunished for some of the foulest crimes of this violent century.
"When Japan's military chiefs plotted their criminal and treacherous attacks on the West in 1941," the editorial continued, "Hirohito could have stopped them with a wave of his hand. At that time he was a god in the eyes of his people.
"Instead, he did nothing except to produce a few lines of meaningless verse."
'Sinking Sun of Evil'
The Daily Star, a London-based tabloid, called the emperor "the sinking sun of evil" and compared him to Adolf Hitler. One of its two stories on Hirohito on Wednesday was headlined with a quote from a World War II veteran who said, "Let the Bastard Rot in Hell."
Matsuda said the Japanese Embassy in London "immediately took action" to lodge oral protests with the two newspapers and planned to submit formal written protests.
Although the protests were directed only at the publications, the government has not ruled out the possibility of lodging a similar complaint against the British government, Matsuda said.
He said the editorials were of "great regret" and "quite abusive. I have to express my displeasure most strongly."