Many films have been made on the Iraq War and the war crimes that went unpunished by the Bush Administration. But few movies have explored the fascinating turn of power that happened at the end of World War II when the Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrendered to U.S. forces and was faced with the possibility of being held accountable for crimes against humanity. This was no small feat for the prevailing side in WWII, given that Hirohito was not only an emperor, but a literal god to the Japanese people.
Tommy Lee Jones plays General Douglas MacArthur, an all-business military man who finds himself the de facto emperor of Japan after Hirohito has surrendered. He has no interest in presiding over the nation – he wants only to serve as a place holder until Japan decides what is bets for itself and Hirohito has been brought to justice.
Enter General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) who is an expert in all things Japanese. MacArthur implores him to conduct an undercover investigation to see if the people of Japan want to see Hirohito on trial, or if they are simply glad to be rid of him. Or, perhaps, they wish to see him restored to power.
What ensues is a story that is part history lesson and part love story, especially when Fellers reveals that the reason he has come to Japan in the first place is to find the school teacher he loves with white hot passion. The story meanders a bit when the romance comes into play, but it is still fascinating as a history lesson, much as Lincoln was and which also featured a winning turn by Tommy Lee Jones.