Hirohito (1901-1989) was emperor of Japan from 1926 until his death in 1989. He took over at a time of rising democratic sentiment, but his country soon turned toward ultra-nationalism and militarism. During World War II (1939-45), Japan attacked nearly all of its Asian neighbors, allied itself with Nazi Germany and launched a surprise assault on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. Though Hirohito later portrayed himself as a virtually powerless constitutional monarch, many scholars have come to believe he played an active role in the war effort. After Japan’s surrender in 1945, he became a figurehead with no political power.