Type: Controversial Essays
Sample donated: Jo George
Last updated: September 25, 2019
History IA________________________________________________________________________How did the occupation of Japan from 1945-1953 change Japanese government?________________________________________________________________________Word Count: 2080 Table of ContentsSection 1: Identification and Evaluation of sources … 2Section 2: Investigation … 3Section 3: Reflection … 6Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of SourcesHow did the occupation of Japan from 1945-1953 change Japanese government? After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the United States led the Allies in the occupation and rehabilitation of the Japanese state. Between 1945 and 1952, the U.S. occupying forces, led by General Douglas A. MacArthur, began to reform the widespread military, political, economic, and social. When exploring 20th century US history, it is easy to remember Japan as an enemy of United States.
In the early 1940s, the anti-Japanese sentiment was fairly popular in the United States, in the most infamous case, the internment of over a hundred thousand American citizens of Japanese descent. However, this enemy image is practically nonexistent from how the United States viewed Japan a few years later. By the mid-1950’s Japan had transformed from an enemy to an ally. Even now, in the 21st century, many Americans openly embrace Japanese culture through food, shows, books, games, and more.The Constitution of Japan is a prominent source for the allied occupation of Japan, which shows the way which the United States values their own form of government, and how direct the control was in Japan. The purpose of this constitution was to bring about subtle and major changes to the Meiji Constitution. When viewing the document, it becomes clear that some parts of this constitution is a direct mirror of the American Constitution.
Once again demonstrating the strong view the American’s had taken on as their point of reference, as the origin of this document was created by two Americans. However, this document can be very limiting, as it is very bias and rooted in American ideology, but also does not offer personal opinions from either side of the occupation.The picture of Emperor Hirohito and MacArthur is more telling in the side of personal identification within the two sides. The purpose of the photo was to demonstrate and downplay the role of the Emperor within Japanese culture as it was distributed throughout Japan after it was taken. The origin of the picture was during a meeting between Hirohito and MacArthur, which was viewed by the Americans to be a rather week display of Hirohito’s pride.
As it was often portrayed as a plea for mercy rather than a cordial discussion. However, the validity of this discussion could be limited as translation could have been misconstrued, because the Japanese language is often based off of inflection instead of emotionally charged words. Section 2: Investigation How did the occupation of Japan from 1945-1953 change Japanese government? World War II (WW2) was notably called a “war without mercy” to getting to be vital allies. The beginning of this change from adversaries to partners can be followed to the post-war occupation of Japan by America.
Amid this timeframe, the United States government set out to align with the little island country keeping in order to gain a sphere of influence in Asia within the developing Cold War. The relationship was not without its issues but rather has been generally viewed as a successful occupation among Americans. In the end the Japanese and Americans had diverging opinions on the societal changes in Japan, like the governmental change in demilitarization, democratization, and the degrade of the Japanese emperor.The Allies punish Japan for its past militarism and expansion by convening war crimes trials in Tokyo. At the same time, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) dismantled the Japanese Army and banned former military officers from taking roles of political leadership in the new government. The American belief was that the small island nation had propelled into a devastating war by the militaristic government of Pre-War Japan. In an overarching cooperative fashion, the Japanese disarmed 88% of their armed forces in the time between September to October of that year.
It would not take much longer for their entire military to be disbanded, and weapons destroyed. The Demobilization and Disarmament of Japan is an excerpt from the Reports of General MacArthur. It illustrates the process of how the Japanese military was demobilized, and disarmed. The Americans enforce the disbanding of the Japanese military, and seem to have the authority to carry this operation out. Japanese soldiers are encouraged to return home and live the rest of their lives peacefully. Weapons such as aircraft and guns are disposed of, and not left to linger.The initial goal of the occupation was to showcase how American democracy could be successful anywhere in the world, but this quickly changed when the Soviet Union became a threat.
The agenda shifted to ensuring an alliance with Japan to keep it from turning communist. America imposing a constitution based off their own. MacArthur appointed American government members to draft a constitution that would take the place of Japan’s Pre-War Meiji Constitution. The Meiji Constitution had borrowed ideas from the American Constitution itself, but was much more reliant on the divinity of the Empire. Furthermore, while it had two houses, a House of Representatives and a House of Peers, only one of the parties was made up of elected members.
The House of Peers was made up of individuals from the imperial family. Even in its preamble, the Meiji Constitution speaks of deriving from ancestry and the glory of the throne rather than the will of the people. The new Constitution would bring about subtle and major changes to the Meiji Constitution. Even from the beginning paragraphs, the new Japanese Constitution directly quotes its American counterpart with phrases such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Additionally, it is characterized by “we, the Japanese people” rather than the divinity of the emperor. The two houses are revised into the House of Representative and the House of Councilors, both made up of elected officials rather than the imperial family. The changes go beyond simple revising of previous establishments and word choice.
In the new Constitution of Japan the emperor would no longer be viewed as a god, but rather an ordinary man. He would still keep his position, and perform ceremonial rights, but would not be all powerful. An even more controversial change appears in the form of Article 9 in which Japan is not allowed to have a military.
When the war came to a close, the defeated Axis powers faced repercussions for their aggressive actions. In Germany and Japan alike, people who has committed “crimes against humanity” were put on trial and even executed. However, one key figure was missing from these trials: Japanese Emperor Hirohito. The emperor had been reluctant to join the war, but did not use his authority to end it sooner, in a sense making him just as guilty as other war criminals. However, he was not their sole leader.
When approaching the topic of Hirohito, MacArthur was careful. Several Japanese advisors warned him not to completely eliminate the emperor out of fear that it would cause the Japanese citizens to fall into chaos. After all, the emperor was seen as a god.
MacArthur listened and decided not to invite Hirohito to visit him, but rather wait for Hirohito to extend an invitation. Hirohito, in the end, arranged to meet with MacArthur. Instead of summoning him, Hirohito came to MacArthur’s headquarters, a business building known as the Dai-Ichi Seimei. It was not only taller than the palace, but sat directly across from it. While Hirohito was dressed very formally in a suite, Macarthur appeared a bit more casual in his standard khakis. The two took a photo together, Macarthur slightly slumping and Hirohito standing straight and rigid.
Afterwards, MacArthur made sure to distribute this image across Japan. The emperor was alive, but was not all powerful.After the photo was taken, Macarthur and Hirohito had a private meeting. It was reported that Hirohito pleaded for mercy for his people. He allegedly stated that he was willing to take all the blame, as long as the Japanese citizens were spared. These statements may have been the result of a translation error however, and has been a point of debate among historians. Regardless, MacArthur, moved by these pleas, decided that Hirohito would remain emperor, but only under certain conditions.
His divinity would be removed and he would be a man of the people, visiting them in the streets. Hirohito would not be the ruler of Japan so much as he would be a ceremonial figure. From then on the story portrayed to Americans and Japanese alike showed Hirohito as a much more sympathetic figure. He was a family man, a timid intellectual, and had been forced to sign into the war as a way of protecting his people. This new story made him much more likable, and further strengthened the relationship between the countries. Yet, because of America, the emperor would never be viewed the same way again.Japan had been forced by the United States to take on a more Democratic approach while both weakening the country after WW2. Even though the Japan was considered to be the brutal aggressors of the eastern front, it can be consider that the US definitely victimized all of Japan, while also crossing the boundaries of disrespect towards their culture linked with Japan’s own government.
However, considering that Japan could have been likely turn communist, the intervention may have been necessary from the western perspective.Section 3: Reflection Knowledge of the past is never certain. The very best we can hope for is a close truth, seeing as every piece of evidence has some degree of doubt associated with it. For example, interviewing witnesses seems like a great source of information and opinion and is a real advantage when researching recent history as opposed to less recent history where no witnesses are alive anymore. A problem that I came across though is that it is very hard to prove the reliability of such witnesses or in my case, a biases often get in the way of the factual evidence. As an American may obtain more patriotic propaganda, or as Japanese people still exist and there are basically just people to interview the people whose lives are a result of the occupation or those who have studied the occupations and know its effects on the culture, which I am not trying to address.
Doing this investigation has shown me how difficult it is to find factual evidence in history as it is way general and opinionated, as other areas of knowledge are needed to infer a neutral ground as there is no exact truth. As the historians have attempted to find what comes closest to what actually happened, but every event formulated is actually due to speculation, even when you take into account many different perspectives produced by different people of different beliefs and opinions. So to redefine the historian’s job, the real task is to collect as many perspectives on an issue as possible in order to let the individual to judge for themselves. Doing my investigation I noticed that this task is much easier to fulfill when researching recent history where archives are accessible and one can at least be relatively sure that history in books are not modified to suit one’s own beliefs by the ideals of they own culture.Work Cited”Constitution of Japan, 3 November 1946.
” International Law Studies Series. US Naval War College 46 (1948-1949).Gaetano Faillace. MacArthur and Hirohito. September 27, 1945. United States Army Photograph.MacArthur, Douglas. Reports of General MacArthur.
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, 1966. Print.Tiedemann, Arthur E. Modern Japan: a Brief History.
Robert E. Krieger, 1980.”Treaty of Peace with Japan.” United States Treaties and Other International Agreements 3 (1952): 3169-3328