THE SHADOW CABINET
by John Broussard
Taikan stood silently outside the seldom-used secret doorway.
The Emperor had, personally, given him his instructions. Three
would be allowed to enter-and only three. They were exactly on
time and had obviously also received their instructions. Colonel
Takanori Gotoda in uniform, Mayumi Murakami in his monk's robes
and Noboru Endo in his finely tailored business suit.
No words were exchanged as the trio followed Taikan down a long
hallway, then up stairs to the Emperor's private chambers. Their
guide silently opened the door, nodded, withdrew, and closed the
door as quietly as he had opened it. The Emperor was sitting in
a simple wooden chair, three pillows on the floor before him.
The newcomers bowed, then kneeled. The first words were the Emperor's.
"I've summoned you because I must make an important decision
today, one that may have awesome consequences for Japan's future.
I know the three of you well-since boyhood. I trust you. And now
I want you to speak from the heart. My other advisors try too
hard to please me by telling me what they think I want to hear.
That is a luxury neither I nor our country can afford." He
sighed before continuing.
"I'm sure you have heard many rumors. Here are the facts.
The Imperial Fleet has already sailed and is fully armed for an
attack upon the American bases in Hawaii. Admiral Nagumo awaits
my final word. I can recall the fleet, or I can tell him to complete
his mission, but I must make that decision within the next twenty-four
hours. This is too heavy a burden for my shoulders alone. I need
your advice. Noboru, I shall turn to you first. Should we attack
the Americans or not."
The businessman bowed before answering. "You have asked
me to speak frankly, and I will. War with America is inevitable.
It is vital that we strike first."
The monk gathered his robes about him. "I could not disagree
more. There are many avenues of compromise open to us short of
war with the Americans. Negotiation, patience, a readiness to
listen--all other measures should be fully exhausted before we
embark on the policy of suffering and disaster which are the inevitable
consequences of war."
"Takanori?" The Emperor raised his hand. "Before
you speak, I must tell you that I fully decided when I awoke this
morning that I would abide by a majority decision from the three
of you. I am committed to that resolution, so think carefully
before you answer. What side you choose will have enormous consequences
for many years to come."
The colonel bowed deeply. "The information we have most
recently received about the Americans makes only one decision
possible. The United States has the largest supply of poison gas
in the world on hand. In addition, we have now learned they are
researching new weapons--weapons of mass destruction. Every day
that passes they become stronger and we become weaker because
we depend so heavily on the oil from areas they control. We must
act first. A pre-emptive strike is the only way we can prevent
them from attacking us when they have superior weaponry."
The Emperor's expression showed no change. "We will do as
you say. I will order the fleet to continue to Hawaii and to do
all in its power to destroy American naval strength located in
Pearl Harbor. We will announce to the world as soon as the planes
are in the air that we have been forced into launching-what was
that expression?-launching a pre-emptive strike."
also by John Broussard: The Final Solution