Occupation Of Japan Essay, Research Paper
For many Americans WWII started on the morning of December 7, 1941 according to FDR, A day that will live in infamy. That was the day that the Japanese attacked our naval base in Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, and destroyed most of our Pacific fleet. For the Japanese however their war began many years earlier. Some say it began on September 18, 1931. The Japanese staged an explosion on the South Manchurian Railroad. They blamed it on the Chinese and used this as an excuse to seize all of Manchuria. This is a popular move by the Japanese military, but politically it made very little sense. This made Japan an outlaw nation by breaking the 4 Powers Pact. After the Litton Commission reported to the League of Nations reasons for Japan doing this, Japan walked out and abdicated all treaties it has signed. While some may argue that this is not really the start of the war, it is where many of Japans troubles started. From here on out, markedly the United States, looked them at from a differently. The popular question of the time was, what will they do next? The fighting against Japan in the pacific is toilsome and cost are high for both major players, the United States and Japan. The war comes to an end after the United States drops two atomic bombs on Japan. One is dropped on Hiroshima, and the other on Nagasaki. Both cities are leveled, along with many other urban areas by conventional bombing. Although this is still very controversial it may have saved many lives on both sides since the U.S. had plans to invade the island nation. In September of 1945 on the battleship U.S.S Missouri the Japanese surrender to the allied powers. This may be looked at as the beginning of the end. The U.S had been planning for an occupation, for as long as 25 years is needed. There were three main phases set for this occupation. The rebuilding of Japan had a long way to go, many questions needed to be answered, and much work needed to be done before the occupation would be deemed complete. The first phase in planning the occupation centered on discipline. How strict should they be, who should be disciplined, and many other questions? There was a fine line to be drawn here. The allies wanted the occupation to go smoothly, but still wanted to ensure discipline had been instilled. They decided that there would be a trial of war criminals, Those responsible needed to be punished. The austere strictness would be enforced to set precedence, but they did not want to unnecessarily humiliate the Japanese people. Phase two was the main focus and had the most questions surrounding it. This was the phase of democratization. How to evolve a devastated government into a liberal, constitutional government for this country. At the same time it had to guarantee that there would be no resurgence of militarism by a country that had seen an abundance of bloodshed in its recent history. Depending on how the progressions of phase two went the occupation force wanted to gradually relax the restrictions that had been ingrained during the first phase. Phase three would depend on how the preceding phases had developed and was two fold. The first part of this would be how to orchestrate Japan back into the world economic system. How fast and to what magnitude this happened would depend on how the economic reforms had been accepted. The second part would be preparing Japan to take their place as responsible members in the United Nations. The occupation would not be the same as it had happened in Germany. There would be no zones of occupation, where different countries occupied different zones. In Japan there would be only one commander in chief, the American Supreme commander. SCAP as it was later to be called; Supreme Commander Allied Powers would encompass the governing body of the occupation force and also stand for the man named to lead this occupation. The U.S. defined itself as leader of this occupation, they did however request that an advisory committee be formed from the 11 nations taking part in this undertaking. Named the Far Eastern Advisory Council (FEAC), it was to consult and advise SCAP, but not control in any ways its actions. This may not have been to the liking of the other nations engaged in the occupation, but they saw the futility in fighting the U.S. position on this theme. That was the contrivance set for the defeated nation of Japan. The next big question was who would be its leader. The commander of the Pacific Theatre, General Douglas MacArthur was named to head SCAP, and this individual soon personified the occupation. MacArthur s father was a military man; he was a colonel in the 24th Wisconsin Volunteers during the Civil War and later went on to become military govenor of the Philippines. MacArthur entered West Point in 1899 and graduated first in his class. After graduation in 1905 he joined his fathers staff in Japan as an aide de campe. After a long military career he retired in 1937,but was called back to active duty in 1941. At age 65 General Douglas MacArthur was named the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. During the occupation his brilliance far outweighed his shortcomings. The Japanese for his dedicated sense of the mission respected MacArthur. He also gave them strong personal leadership at a time when they greatly needed someone to follow. This was a time when most of Japan was questioning whether or not they could trust their own leaders. His graciousness during the first few years of the occupation established his prestige and authority. This along with the fact that they majority of the occupation force treated the Japanese as humans made the operation flow smoother that previously expected. MacArthur s first problem presented itself even before he came to the island nation. The question was how to treat the emperor? Many believed at this time that it was he who had ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor. A Gallop poll taken in 1945 showed that, 33% of Americans wanted to see him hanged, 37% felt he should be put on trial and either exiled, or put in prison. Only 7% felt he should remain as emperor and be used as a tool to support the occupation. So there were two sides to this issue. A paper written by Hugh Borton felt we should keep him, and that his powers should not be revoked. Instead he should only have the authority to delegate administrative duties to subordinate officials; this would be used to ensure the good behavior of the Japanese people. Borton also stated that only those willing to serve the direct supervision of Allied civilian affairs officers should be allowed to stay in office. To keep the emperor safe he was to be placed into protective custody and moved out of Tokyo, where if need be he could be removed from the role of political instrument with little quandary. On the other side of the coin some felt he needed to be removed. Earle Dickover wrote an article with this viewpoint. He felt that the emperor should be immediately removed from all power and institution. To leave him in his former role would perpetuate an undemocratic institution, exactly opposite of the United States intentions. Dickover felt that it was necessary to discredit the emperor s institution in the eyes for the Japanese people to promote democracy. His memorandum stated that a clean break from the past must be made to establish a democracy. The decision was made, and on January 1, 1946 Emperor Hirohito made his Declaration of Humanity speech. MacArthur felt that it was instrumental to keep him enthroned as a constitutional monarch. He told Washington that catastrophic consequences could be expected if he were to be removed. Apparently they agreed with him. There were two main aspects of the occupation, one positive, and one negative, each with many parts. The first part was the demilitarization, disassembling Japans war machine. Part two was the democratization of Japan, a much more complex and time-consuming aspect of the occupation. The demilitarization was much simpler, at least much clearer cut than the democratization was. The real demilitarization had for the most part already taken care of itself with the defeat of the war machine. All that SCAP had to deal with was the debris left strewn about the withdrawn empire. The Empire had been, with the surrender, reduced to the Islands of Japan proper. What remained of the armed forces were ordered to stand down, they were disbanded and abolished. In Japan there was a demobilization of about 2.2 million troops, they were for the most told to turn in their weapons, given a severance pay, and told to go home. There was at hand the more complex task of bringing the 3.3 million troops home from overseas. This involved the collecting them from all over the south pacific, processing, delousing, paying them a severance, closing of their personal records and then sending them home also. While this was being completed another process of demilitarization was being conducted. All military installations were razed; all equipment was either destroyed, or shipped out of the country. All military supplies were confiscated. These supplies were then determined to be useful for aid or not. Any item that could be used as aid for the ailing civilian population was distributed. Military supplies without civilian uses were destroyed. The other major problem with the demilitarization was associated with the downsizing of the claims to land Japan held. There were about 3.2 million civilians in these repatriated countries that wanted to leave their former Japanese territories and move back to the islands of Japan. This was also no simple task to get them back to Japan and process them back into the country, and provide food and shelter to those who needed it. There was still the problem of dealing with those charged with being war criminals. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East was formed to ring down the final curtain on Japanese militarism by teaching the Japanese that war does not pay. The Tribunal consisted of eleven judges representing as many different countries. Its duty was to try high Japanese political leaders charged with responsibility of making decisions leading to crimes against peace. There was the so-called class A criminal. From May 3 1946 until November 12, 1948 the eleven judges sat in court reviewing case after case of war crimes. Seven people, all but one being generals were hanged, sixteen were committed to prison for the remainder of their lives, and to were given terms of less than life in prison. None of those tried by the Tribunal were acquitted of their charges. The next grouping of those on trial were the class B criminals. This group consisted of about twenty high ranking military officers who were charged with command responsibility for troops what had committed atrocities. Two generals were tried in ad hoc courts still on the battlefield immediately after surrender and were executed. The rest were tried by a special military court in Tokyo set up by SCAP and all were acquitted. The biggest class was the class C criminals. This group consisted of lesser officers, and men charged with the mistreatment of prisoners of war, or smaller crimes. Other Allied courts conducted some of these trials overseas, most however were tried in Yokohama. These courts were set up by SCAP and were mostly military commissions of the 8th Army. The class C criminals consisted of approximately 4,200, of that approximately 400 were acquitted, approximately 700 were sentenced to death, and the remainder were sentenced to various prison terms. The last portion of demilitarization was the purge directive, which was issued on January 4, 1946. This act was designed to, automatically remove from eligibility for political office anyone who had played a part in promoting Japanese aggression or militant nationalism. Included in this group were military officers, heads of nationalist organizations and overseas businesses. Over 222,000 persons were declared ineligible to hold any political office in the new political order of Japan. SCAP felt that this would help the new democracy flourish an out with the old and in with the new attitude. This system was not without its shortcomings. For the most part the civilian bureaucracy was left intact. There was really no other choice since it was needed to run the day to day business of Japan. This bureaucracy did manage to gain strength and become a major power in politics after the war.The first major step in democratization was the revamping of the old Meiji Constitution. SCAP put this task to Prime Minister Shedehara, who enrolled a committee of legal scholars and bureaucrats and told them to liberalize the constitution. Three months later on February 1, 1946 this new constitution was presented to MacArthur, who felt that the changes made had been to conservative. MacArthur felt it was time for SCAP to step in, in order for this new democracy to get moving it had to have a new constitution. MacArthur appointed General Courtney Whitney with these directives. The emperor was to be kept as a constitutional monarch and to keep him responsible to an electorate based upon wide representative suffrage. The constitution would also outlaw war and the making of war by this country. Whitney took this to his government section of SCAP and within six days the new constitution was complete. MacArthur wanted this constitution to have the feeling that it was written by the Japanese, for the Japanese. This notion failed since it had many undertones from the U.S. constitution. It was taken to the emperor who obediently accepted it for the people. There are six main points to this new constitution. First was that sovereign power was now with the people and no longer in the hands of the emperor. Secondly was that the people of Japan renounced war forever. Next the local autonomy increased in power and those positions were now elected. The cabinet was now responsible to the Diet as in the British system. There was also and independent judiciary and a new variety of human rights.
Another major focus of SCAP was that of reforms to the country. First of these was the economic reforms. Initially the allies wanted to ensure that Japan could never again possess the economic potential to wage war. By doing this there would no doubt be economic hardships endured by the Japanese, but these would be looked upon as retributions for the war. The main problem seen here was that by keeping a country so weak this mean that the allies would have to financially support it. One process to be used was the dismantling of factories used in the production of war goods; those that produced consumer goods would be allowed to continue production. This was soon found to be unrealistic. Before and during the war years Japan had been bled dry. The bombing in the past months had leveled many factories. Raw material were now almost non-existent in Japan, and fuel was even more scarce. Japan was in shambles. Factories were at only 10% of prewar production level. Shelves in stores were bare of food or manufactured goods. The population of Japan was consuming only about 1/5 as much food as wartime GI s had per person. To put it simply there just was not enough food left in the country. Newspapers published flyers to inform people of what wild plants could be eaten; the past few years rice harvest had been way down. SCAP soon figured out that no democratic ideas would be accepted until the country was not going hungry. MacArthur requested emergency food and medical supplies to safeguard U.S. military forces form the diseased and hungry Japanese. In reality these supplies were for the diseased and hungry Japanese. The Japanese government had just paid millions of soldiers their severance pay and the occupying forces also had money. So while the country was broke there was still a lot of money being put in circulation, making the right conditions for inflation. To combat this the government imposed price and income ceilings, which only helped to create a black market. Many Asian nations were still awaiting war indemnities from Japan. These indemnities were more that equal to the remaining economic assets of Japan. The U.S. declared these reparations over because of reasons stated above. This earned the U.S. much appreciation from Japan, but did not put them in as good of graces with the other Asian nations. Another of the economic reforms was the deconcentration, better known as the Zaibatsu busting. Since prewar years most of japans industry was under about twelve large financial families, these families were running Japan. SCAP forced them to dispose of their stocks; this was to ensure that no monopolies would be formed in this new society. To ensure this happened MacArthur formed a Deconcentration Review board made up of five prominent U.S. businessmen to examine these actions. Some felt that this was all merely done to punish the Zaibatsu for helping finance the war, while others said it was to ensure that Japan could never compete with the U.S. in a world market. In reality SCAP felt that the Zaibatsu was undemocratic and had to be dissolved to aid in the democratization process. It was soon seen that the deconcentration program was working against SCAP. The Deconcentration Review Board quickly decided that instead of downsizing all 1200 corporations it had slated the nine already completed fulfilled the task. With that the Review board announced the program was completed. The deconcentration never was allowed to take full shape, but it did have some positive effects. The two major Zaibatsu firms, Mitsui, and Mitsubishi had been broken up into over 240 separate companies, although they would be reunited some years later. They program was sound in theory. There were twelve financial houses that controlled 80% of the nations industrial, commercial, and financial enterprises. This obviously forms an unhealthy situation for a country. Another reform project was that of Labor reforms, this action in Japan did see many traces from the New Deal. As in many nations workers here had never had a chance to gain any rights, this was about to change. The Trade Union Act was passed by the Diet in December of 1945. It gave workers the right to organize, collectively bargain and to strike. It also prohibited unfair practices by employer. Unionization was also promoted with this reform. In prewar Japan there were only about 420,000 union members in a workforce of some 6 million. Soon it was not uncommon for the head of a firm to take the initiative in organizing a union in his own company. The numbers were soon at about 6-7 million union members in a 12 million-man workforce. SCAP felt that a liberated working class was essential in forming a democracy. They just expected to have more control over the growth. Unions never got a fair chance in pre war Japan, the work force was over 40% agrarian and the factory workers had an almost limitless supply of labor from young women who wanted to get off the farm and into the city. The industry of the time was textiles witch was mostly unskilled and the workforce was made up of young women. This had exploitation written all over it. After the war the industry changed more to machinery and chemicals. These required more skilled labor and more specialization, add these to the laws passed in the Trade Union act and it was simply the right time for workers to redress the grievances of pre war labor. In 1947 the Labor Standard Act was passed. This set a minimum standard for working hours, vacations, safety and sanitation safeguards, sick leaves, and accident compensation. There were also standards placing restriction on women and child labor. These were the highest standard Japan had ever seen for its workers and actually rated high with the rest of the world as well. This was still not the best of times; it was still hard for a worker to live on their salary due to inflation. In this shattered economy employers were often no better off that their employees. Union strikes usually produced little in the way of results since the employer could not meet the demands of the workers. In one case of an urban railroad company the workers went back to work running the trains, but simply did not collect a fair from any of the passengers. The unions were soon getting out of hand and were no longer held in check by SCAP. Was this too much to soon for the ravaged nation? SCAP decided that it needed to crack down on the unruly unions. On February 1, 1947 the threat of military action was used to end a strike. From that point on the energetic labor strikes clashed with police, U.S. military police, and sometimes even combat units in support of the M.P.s. MacArthur ordered Prime Minister Hitosi Ashida to impose severe restrictions on the union activities; this revised the Trade Union Law and made it much less liberal To no surprise this enraged the Japanese laborers, they felt they had been betrayed by SCAP. They did have a right to be enraged, but some of their demands were impossible to meet. To ask for such radical changes so quickly after forming these unions was not healthy to restoring the ravaged economy, nor was it possible to meet these demands since the employers were in no better circumstances than the employees were. This was on was of the biggest setbacks that SCAP encountered during the entire occupation. The third major reform was to the land; it was also the most successful. This reform captured the imagination of MacArthur, possibly since his father conducted a land reform in the Philippines years earlier. The reform called for dispossession of absentee landlords. Landowners could have 7.5 acres for themselves to farm and the rest of the land was bought by the government, which could then be bought at reasonable prices. This changed the property rights of over 6 million families and the entire structure of social relation. The countryside was now changed into a society of small and independent farmers. This was a huge undertaking that formed anywhere between 11,000 and 13,000 land commissions, made up of five tenant farmers, 2 landowner-cultivators, and three landlords. Over 5,000,000 acres were transferred, and over 2,000,000 million tenant farmers were now landowners. This may have been what kept Japan from communism after the occupation, since it strengthened the peasant population, and they had no reason to revolt. It did not make everything good though. No matter how the land was divided there simply was not enough land in Japan for the number of farmers. Many farmers had to sell their crops to the black market to make enough money to survive. There were a number of social reforms that needed to take place. MacArthur said that, Supposedly the Japanese were a 20th century civilization. In reality they were more near a feudal society, of the type discarded by the western nations some four centuries ago. One of the biggest social reforms was the emancipation of women in Japan. In the first general election that allowed women suffrage 13 million women voted and 39 were elected to the Diet. Women as stated in the constitution were equals. Education was another major reform. A twenty-seven-member U.S. Education Mission came to Japan and implemented many ideas from the U.S. school system. In 1947 the Fundamental Law of Education was passed. This paved the way for the elections of local school boards, which in turn dissolved the Ministry of Education. The local school boards were given control of what teachers to hire the cirriculum and textbooks. The Mission also changed the multi tracked Japanese school system into the single track system of the U.S. along with that they tried to remove the nationalism in schools and replace it with more democratic ideas . The main goals of the occupation were moving along with no major drawbacks. The U.S. was considering options of ending the occupation, but these were sped along by other worldly events. In 1947 the Cold War is upon the U.S.. MacArthur feels it is in the best interest of the occupation to ensure Japan is our ally. This is where the U.S. occupation does a sort of reverse course. This was only more enforced in 1949 when China had its popular communist revolution. Many in the U.S. started to wonder Article 9 in the Japanese constitution stating that they would never again build an army or wage war might have been a bad idea. This is when the Zaibatsu are allowed to form again, and is also when the National Defense Force is formed as a purely defensive military force. MacArthur feels that this is the time to end the occupation. Washington does not agree. In 1950 the Korean War breaks out and Japan is used as major thoroughfare for U.S. troops heading to and from Korea. This is a very economically prosperous time for Japan.All these factors gave Japan bargaining power when the U.S. wanted to negotiate a withdrawal of the occupational forces. Japan was rebuilding very fast economically and it could see that with all that was happening on this side of the world that it was in the best interest of the U.S. to be on good terms with Japan. Yoshida and John Foster Dulles negotiated the treaty that soon became know as the Yoshida Doctrine. The Doctrine can be summed up in three major points. First is the fact that Japan s economic rehabilitation must be the prime national goal, and cooperation with the U.S . was necessary to accomplish this. Secondly Japan would be allowed to remain lightly armed to avoid involvement in international political-strategic issues. This would also work out in favor of Japans economy, since their people would be allowed to make industrial gains, instead of worrying about military technology. Lastly was that in order to guarantee it own long term security Japan would provide bases for the U.S. on Japanese soil. This Doctrine remained in effect with the U.S. until the end of the cold war nearly forty years later. Why did Japan react so well to the occupation? One of the main reasons may be that their world as they had known it had collapsed. The economy, the cities, and their manpower were all lying in ruins. To many Japanese the surrender had come as a relief. Another reason may be the fact that their past policies had never encountered occupation, during the Tokugawa period they were isolated to just a few outsider. Later at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th they were imperialist and could not be conquered. The occupation of allied forces may have thrown them off balance enough that they were susceptible to the new influences that were thrust upon them. Also Japan was a society of rules, and when something happens that s not in the rules they tend to lose their bearings. MacArthur may have been a factor also, he had and overpowering image and treated the Japanese as human beings, not as a conqueror would treat the conquered. Finally the Japanese people did not show any major signs of animosity toward the U.S. or its occupational forces, to them the horrors of war were simply part of the game. Overall the occupation can be counted as a success. There were drawbacks of course. From hindsight it is easy to view all the problems not foreseen previously and find solutions to these. The occupation did rebuild Japan towards a major world economic leader that cannot be disputed. Never before have changes of such magnitude taken place in such a short span of years with such a positive effect. Few good things come out of war, but the rebuilding of Japan can definitely be viewed as one of the few.