Japan, August 1945. Millions of Japanese are stunned to hear the voice of their Emperor for the first time, as he commands his people to cease all fighting. Though the address saves the lives of countless Japanese and thousands more Allied Forces, the victorious powers insist Emperor Hirohito appear before a military tribunal. Alexander Sokurov's fascinating and compelling film chronicles the events leading up to Hirohito's momentous speech, the historic renunciation of his divine status and his meetings with General Douglas MacArthur, the commander-in-chief of the occupying American forces, who advises his own President not to declare the Japanese leader a war criminal. Featuring a towering central performance by Issey Ogata, Sokurov creates an intimate portrait of a human being deeply affected by the tragedy that besets his country.