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Memoir by Japan's Hirohito Fetches $275,000 in NY

In this image from an Associated Press Television video, the post-World War II memoirs composed by Japanese Emperor Hirohito are displayed at Bonham's auction house in New York, Dec. 4, 2017.

A memoir by the late Japanese Emperor Hirohito about the years leading up to World War II has been purchased by a Japanese cosmetic surgeon who has has been condemned for denying the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and imperial Japanese forces.

Katsuya Takasu purchased the handwritten document Wednesday from Bonham’s auction house in New York City for $275,000, nearly double its expected top price, at an auction in Manhattan on Wednesday.

The 173-page document was dictated to Hirohito's aides soon after the end of the war. It was created at the request of General Douglas MacArthur, whose administration controlled Japan at the time.

An undated photo of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.
An undated photo of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

The memoir, also known as the imperial monologue, covers events from the Japanese assassination of Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin in 1928 to the emperor's surrender broadcast recorded Aug. 14, 1945.

The document's contents caused a sensation when they were first published in Japan in 1990, just after the emperor's death.

The two volumes are each bound with strings, the contents written vertically in pencil.

It was transcribed by Hidenari Terasaki, an imperial aide and former diplomat who served as a translator when Hirohito met with McArthur.

The monologue is believed among historians to be a carefully crafted text intended to defend Hirohito's responsibility in case he was prosecuted after the war. A 1997 documentary on Japan's NHK television found an English translation of the memoir that supports that view.

According to the Associated Press, the manuscript, was in the possession of the daughter of Terasaki. Hirohito wrote the document in 1946, a year after Japan surrendered to Allied forces and the emperor faced the possibility of being tried as a war criminal.

Takasu says he purchased the document so it can be kept in Japan.

Takasu has been condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish human rights group, for using social media to praise Nazi Germany and describe the Holocaust and the Nanjing massacre in China as fabrications.

Japanese forces swept through Nanjing in December 1937 and killed scores of civilians and soldiers over a brutal six-week period.

The transcript was kept by Terasaki's American wife, Gwen Terasaki, after his death in 1951 and then handed over to their daughter, Mariko Terasaki Miller, and her family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.