Showa is the reign name (the personal names of emperors are not used) of the emperor who held the throne from 1926 to 1989. The literal meaning of the name is ‘Bright Peace’. The reign, the longest in Japanese history, may have been bright and peaceful after 1945, but the first twenty years saw not only the destruction of World War II, but many social and economic problems. After the war, the Showa Emperor’s image was recast; no longer the soldier on a white horse, he came to symbolize the common, middle-class aspirations of many citizens. He changed from a distant image on a photograph hung in public places to a marine biologist wading in the surf or a tourist gathering a child onto his lap at Disneyland.