Gerald L. Curtis :: Under the Japanese
political system before the Second World War, the emperor was in theory
all-powerful. The emperor was sovereign, and everyone who worked for
the government in effect worked for the emperor. That meant, in effect,
that power was divided among several different groups within the Japanese
political system — most importantly the military, the civilian
bureaucracy, and to some extent the Diet, the Japanese parliament.
In the pre-war period, before the Second World War, the fact that the
emperor was theoretically all-powerful meant in effect that those groups
who could claim to speak for the emperor were the ones who were in fact
all-powerful. So that we know in the 1930s, it was the Japanese military,
which claimed to speak on behalf of the emperor, that managed to secure
virtually all political power unto itself.