Post-War Japan






After World War II Japan was defeated and surrendered in 1945. They were an exhausted, stunned and starving nation (Lippman 1). The United States bombed Japan causing 40% of the infrastructure destroyed. Over 2 million people were killed during this war (Lippman 1). Since Japan had never known defeat, the Japanese now saw their institutions destroyed and agriculture the industry wrecked. Major cities were in ruins with thousands homeless, and the armed forces defeated and dishonored. It took 15 years to rebuild Japan after World War II (Lippman 1). Even the word "war" to Japanese people would bring back horrific memories of death and defeat. The industries had suffered greatly so they had to improve their economic conditions. Since the soldiers were out of war, factories and companies gained strong workers. The workers took up higher positions and introduced foreign trade to help the economy (Lippman 1). They also focused on rebuilding the electric energy, coal, iron, steel and chemical fertilizers. Many people didn't realize that Japan was one of the top educational systems in the world and even after the war they stayed at the top. The graduates became successful in businesses and all students were expected to be at school and learn everyday to be the best citizens possible (Lippman 1).

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General Douglas MacArthur

Occupied Japan


On August 28, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur began to take charge of the U.S. occupation of Japan. MacArthur was in charge of everything to do with this occupation. Under the State Department, he was made the Supreme Commander for the allied powers in Japan (Lippman 2). MacArthur didn't want Japan to be split into separate nationally administered zones. Instead he wanted the existing government and emperor to keep controlling Japan but it was led by the United States (Lippman 2). Since they did not take down the government, MacArthur did not need to create a political structure to administer Japan. He established a Central Liaison Office, which acted as the middle between the occupation staff and government ministries until the two groups developed working relationships(Lippman 2). MacArthur freed the prisoners of war and demobilized the battered Japanese war machines who were still defending islands across the Pacific. The U.S. also broke down the police state. By December 1945, MacArthur was able to make a Bill of Rights for Japan (Lippman 2). It gave civil liberties, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press to the Japanese. The Emperor's roles were also changed. When the Emperor met MacArthur, it helped people except the new regime. In January 1946, Emperor Hirohito gave up his divinity (Lippman 2). On May 1947, a new constitution called the MacArthur Constitution, took effect and replaced the 1867 Meiji Constitution. It created a 2 house parliamentary government called the Diet (Lippman 2). The Constitution gave all basic freedoms. Article 9 said that the Japanese could not wage war. They were demilitarized, a reduction in a countries ability to wage war, achieved by disbanding its armed forces and prohibiting it from acquiring weapons. They could only protect themselves, so they made a modern armed service called the Self-Defense Forces. MacArthur also put democratic reforms into place, giving workers rights to create a independent labor union.

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Article 9

Occupation Brings Deep Changes and the Changing Japanese Society


Many good and bad things changed during the time of U.S. occupation. The Emperor kept on, but he lost power and became a figurehead. MacArthur saw the economy falling since 25% of Japan's national wealth was lost to the war. Prices had risen 20 times, and workers could could barely afford to buy food that was on sale. So he made many reforms on the economy (Lippman 3). He had the Diet separate large farms held by a few landlords, believing that "those who till the soil should own it" (Lippman 3). These farms were taken and sold cheaply to the previous owners. MacArthur tried to take apart the commercial empire of the zaibatsu, or "money cliques," but this didn't work out that great (Lippman 3). Some large Japanese businesses like Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, and Kawasaki that were powerful before the war, remained powerful into the 21st century. But the large Japanese businesses were critical to the nation's economic rebuilding. Nevertheless, "Japan's economy was rebuilt with speed and power" (Lippman 3). MacArthur also changed many things in the educational system. He changed things like "nationalist curriculums and textbooks with more liberal materials, raising the school-leaving age, decentralizing the system, and replacing political indoctrination with U.S. and British ideals that supported independent thought" (Lippman 3). Contract marriages were ended, and set the women free. Many things were changed in the media area. For example, there radio programs of government speeches were replaced with a combination of public affairs shows, impartial newscasts, soap opera's, popular music, all of which attracted millions of listeners. But many were scared because of the arrival of the occupation forces (Lippman 3). Because they thought that the soldiers would conquer a land and just control it. So MacArthur made sure that that would not happen by giving strict orders to the soldiers. "As a result, U.S. soldiers were soon overcoming language barriers to play softball games against Japanese teams, playing tourist at Japan's many attractions, and giving out chewing gum and candy to ubiquitous Japanese children" (Lippman 3). By 1947 the occupation was a success. The whole society was flipped into a better one with the help of the U.S. Later, in 1951 a peace treaty with Japan was signed and the U.S. gave back the control to Japan. U.S. and Japan became allies. (Lippman 3)
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The young Emperor Hirohito in his coronation robes


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