In Emperor Hirohito's announcement of the end of World War II, there was a section that's been translated into English as "not necessarily to Japan’s advantage".

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone – the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people – the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

The phrase has sometimes been interpreted as an understatement, for example this blog post interpreted it that way.

I came across a blog post saying that maybe the statement was difficult to translate accurately, but I don't know how expert the person being quoted by the blog post is.

I'm aware that the Japanese used in the speech is very different from everyday Japanese. I'm not interested in learning how to understand the Japanese used in that speech, but knowing whether understatement is used in Japanese.

Was "not necessarily to Japan’s advantage" meant to be an understatement?



So, the original line was more direct:

→it's getting worse every day

And the War Minister Anami Korechika, fearing a coup d'etat from military wanting to continue the war, argued to change this. In the end it was changed to the more understated 戦局必スシモ好転セス (=not necessarily going to our advantage).

It's clear that the "not necessarily" line is meant to be an understatement. There was a more direct original line and this was changed to the final line in order to understate how badly the war was going.


Edit: This source mixes historical analysis with talk about the film 『日本のいちばん長い日』 but it shows that the final line is meant to understate how badly the war is going (and why):

映画の中でも閣議決定の際の意見対立は重要な場面です。詔書案として挙がってきた「戦勢日に非にして」という字句をめぐって、阿南陸相は頑として「戦局好転せず」と訂正すべきだと主張するのです。曰く、個々の戦闘には負けたが、戦争の勝負はついていない。国のために戦って死んでいった者たちに対し、またいまだに戦っている部下たちに対し、何と申し訳が立つ! 戦局が悪化の一途をたどっているのは事実かもしれないが、この原案では従来の大本営発表(退却を転戦とカムフラージュして戦果を強調してきた等々)がすべて虚構であったことになる……。

〈陸相はこの一点に関するかぎり強硬で、たとえ孤立無援であろうと、譲ろうとはしなかった。最後のときにおよんで、なにが彼をこれほどまで強引にさせているのかと、閣僚たちが訝(いぶか)しく思うほどに、毅然として、自説を主張しつづけた。やがて閣僚たちも陸相の辛い立場を理解するようになった。彼がもっともおそれていたのは部下の暴挙である〉(『日本のいちばん長い日 決定版』文春文庫)


  • 最近の投稿、ほとんど毎回1個だけマイナス入るやん。絶対目つけられてるやろ。。。 – Chocolate Dec 5 '15 at 9:08
  • @chocoさんも気づいてたんですね!笑 – Robin Dec 5 '15 at 14:21

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