On August 15, 1945, the day Emperor Hirohito announced to his subjects the acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, the Suzuki cabinet resigned en masse. Öta Közö, the outgoing education minister, presented his final instruction to the schools on that day. His message was that Japan 's defeat had been brought on by the people's insufficient dedication to the emperor, along with their failure to bring into full play the spirit nurtured by their imperial education. Hereafter, he concluded, students and teachers ought to devote themselves wholly to their duties as imperial subjects and to the maintenance ofthe kokutai. 1 In referring to kokutai, Öta had in mind the emperor, who in presurrender doctrine was the essence of the nation and embodied the national identity. Öta, like many other officials who had promoted ultranationalistic and emperor-centered education in 96
the service of war, persisted in his determination to secure the imperial state even while accepting military defeat. In this way, much ofthe imperial system, which had committed all sorts of atrocities, remained intact at the beginning of postwar Japan.