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    The occupation of Japan was, from start to finish, Essay

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    an Americanoperation.

    General Douglans MacArthur, sole supreme commander of theAllied Power was in charge. The Americans had insufficient men to makea military government of Japan possible; so they decided to actthrough the existing Japanese gobernment. General MacArthur became,except in name, dictator of Japan. He imposed his will on Japan. Demilitarization was speedily carried out, demobilization of theformer imperial forces was completed by early 1946. Japan was extensively fire bomded during the second world war.

    The stench of sewer gas, rotting garbage, and the acrid smell of ashesand scorched debris pervaded the air. The Japanese people had to livein the damp, and cold of the concrete buildings, because they were theonly ones left. Little remained of the vulnerable wooden frame, tileroof dwelling lived in by most Japanese. When the first signs ofwinter set in, the occupation forces immediately took over all thesteam-heated buildings.

    The Japanese were out in the cold in the firstpost war winter fuel was very hard to find, a family was consideredlucky if they had a small barely glowing charcoal brazier to huddlearound. That next summer in random spots new ho uses were built, eachhouse was standardized at 216 square feet, and required 2400 boardfeet of material in order to be built. A master plan for a modernisticcity had been drafted, but it was cast aside because of the lack oftime before the next winter. The thousands of people who lived inrailroad stations and public parks needed housing. All the Japanese heard was democracy from the Americans.

    Allthey cared about was food. General MacArthur asked the government tosend food, when they refus ed he sent another telegram that said,”Send me food, or send me bullets. ” American troops were forbidden toeat local food, as to keep from cutting from cutting into the sparselocal supply. No food was was brought in expressly for the Japanese durningthe first six months after the American presence there. HerbertHoover, serving as chairman of a special presidential advisorycommittee, recommended minimum imports to Japan of 870,000 tons offood to be distributed in different urban areas. Fish, the source ofso much of the protein in the Japanese diet, were no longer availablein adequate quantities because the fishing fleet, particularly thelarge vessels, had been badly decimated by the war and because theU.

    S. S. R. closed off the fishing grounds in the north. The most important aspect of the democratization policy was theadoption of a new constitution and its supporting legislation. Whenthe Japanese government proved too confused or too reluctant to comeup with a constitutional reform that satisfied MacArthur, he had hisown staff draft a new constitution in February 1946.

    This, with onlyminor changes, was then adopted by the Japanese government in the formof an imperial amendment to the 1889 constitution and went into effecton May 3, 1947. The new Constitution was a perfection of the Britishparliamentary form of government that the Japanese had been movingtoward in the 1920s. Supreme political power was assigned to the Diet. Cabinets were made responsible to the Diet by having the primeminister elected by the lower house.

    The House of Peers was replacedby an elected House of Councillors. The judicial system was made asindependent of executive interference as possible, and a newly createdsupreme court was given the power to review the constitutionality oflaws. Local governments were given greatly increased powers. The Emperor was reduced to being a symbol of the unity of thenation.

    Japanese began to see him in person. He went to hospitals,schools, mines, industrial plants; he broke ground for publicbuildings and snipped tape at the opening of gates and highways. Hewas steered here and there, shown things, and kept muttering, “Ah so,ah so. ” People started to call him “Ah-so-san. ” Suddenly the puyblicbegan to take this shy, ill-at-ease man to their hearts.

    They saw inhim something of their own conqured selves, force to do what was aliento them. In 1948, in a newspaper poll, Emperior Hirohito was voted themost popular man in Japan. Civil liberties were emphasized, women were given full equalitywith men. Article 13 and 19 in the new Constitution, prohibitsdiscrimination in political, economic, and social relations because ofrace, creed, sex, social status, or family origen.

    This is one of themost explicitly progressive statements on human rights anywhere inlaw. Gerneral Douglas MacArthur emerged as a radical feminist becausehe was “convinced that the place of women in Japan must be brought toa level consistent with that of women in the western democracies. ” Sothe Japanese women got their equal rights amendment long before aconcerted effort was made to obtain one in America. Compulsory education was extened to nine years, efforts weremade to make education more a traning in thinking than in rote memory,and the school system above the six elementary grades was revised toconform to the American pattern.

    This last mechanical change producedgreat confusion and dissatisfaction but became so entrenched that itcould not be revised even after the Americans departed. Japan’s agriculture was the quickest of national activities torecover because of land reform. The Australians came up with the bestplan. It was basis was this: There were to be no absentee landlards. A person who actually worked the land could own up to 7.

    5 arcers. Anyone living in a village near by could keep 2. 5 acres. Larger plotsof land, exceeding these limits, were bought up by the government andsold on easy terms to former tenants.

    Within two years 2 milliontenants became landowners. The American occupation immediately gainednot only a large constituency, for the new owners had a vestedinterest in preserving the change, but also a psychological momentumfor other changes they wanted to initiate. The American labor policy in Japan had a double goal: toencourage the growth of democratic unions while keeping them free ofcommunists. Union organization was used as a balance to the power ofmanagement. To the surprise of the American authorties, this movementtook a decidedly more radical turn.

    In the desperate economicconditions of early postwar Japan, there was little room forsuccessful bargaining over wages, and many labor unions instead made abid to take over industry and operate it in their own behalf. Moreoverlarge numbers of workers in Japan were government employees, such asrailroad workers and teachers, whose wages were set not by managementbut by the government. Direct political action therefore seemed moremeani ngful to these people than wage bargaining. The Japanese unionscalled for a general strike on February 1, 1947.

    MacArthur warned theunion leadership that he would not countenace a nationwide strike. Thestrike leaders yieled to MacArthur’s will. The reafter the politicalappeal of radical labor action appeared to wane. The Americans wanted to disband the great Zaibatsu trust as ameans of reducing Japan’s war-making potential. There were about 15Zaibatsu families such as – Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Yasuda, and Sumitomo.

    The Zaibatsu controled the industry of Japan. MacArthur’s liaison menpressured the Diet into passing the Deconcentration Law in December1947. In the eyes of most Japanese this law was designed to crippleJapanese business and industry forever. The first step in breaking upthe Zaibatsu was to spread their ownership out among the people and toprevent the old owners from ever again exercising control.

    The stocksof all the key holding companies were to be sold to the public. Friends of the old Zaibatsu bought the stock. In the long run theZaibatsu were not exactly destroyed, but a few were weakened andothers underwent a considerable shuffle. The initial period of the occupation from 1945 to 1948 wasmarked by reform, the second phase was one of stabilization.

    Greaterattention was given to improvement of the economy. Japan was a heavyexpense to the United States. The ordered breakup of the Zaibatsu wasslowed down. The union movement continued to grow, to the ult imatebenefit of the worker. Unremitting pressure on employers broughtswelling wages, which meant the steady expansion of Japan domesticconsumer market. This market was a major reason for Japan’s subsequenteconomic boom.

    Another boom to the economy was the Korean War whichproved to be a blessing in disguise. Japan became the main stagingarea for military action in Korea and went on a war boom economy without having to fight in or pay for a war. The treaty of peace with Japan was signed at San Francisco inSeptember 1951 by Japan, the United States, and forty-seven othernations. The Soviet Union refused to sign it. The treaty went intoeffect in April 1952, officially terminating the United Statesmilitary occupation and restoring full independence. What is extraordinary in the Occupation and its aftermath wasthe insignificance of the unpleasant.

    For the Japanese, the nobilityof American ideals and the essential benignity of the Americanpresence assuaged much of the bitterness and anguish of defeat. Forthe Americans, the joys of promoting peace and democracy triumphedover the attendant fustrations and grievances. Consequently, theOccupation served to lay down a substantial capital of good will onwhich both America and Japan would draw in the years ahead. —BIBLIOGRAPHYChristopher, Robert C.

    /The Japanese Mind/. New York: FawcettColumbine, 1983La Cerda, John. /The Conqueror Comes to Tea/. New Brunswick: R utgersUniversity Press, 1946Manchester, William. /American Caesar/. New York: Dell PublishingCompany, Inc.

    , 1978Perry, John Curtis. /Beneath the Eagle’s Wings/. New York: Dodd, MeadAnd Company, 1980Reischauer, Edwin O. / The Japanese/.

    London: Belknap Press, 1977Seth, Ronald. /Milestones in Japanese History/. Philadelphia: ChiltonBook Company, 1969Sheldon, Walt. /The Honorable Conquerors/. New York: The MacmillanCompany., 1965

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