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Essay/Term paper: Japan

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Geography

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Geography: Japan, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

The occupation of Japan was, from start to finish, an American

operation. General Douglans MacArthur, sole supreme commander of the

Allied Power was in charge. The Americans had insufficient men to make

a military government of Japan possible; so t hey decided to act

through the existing Japanese gobernment. General Mac Arthur became,

except in name, dictator of Japan. He imposed his will on Japan.

Demilitarization was speedily carried out, demobilization of the former

imperial forces was complet ed 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 ashes

and scorched debris pervaded the air. The Japanese people had to live

in the damp, and col d of the concrete buildings, because they were the

only ones left. Little remained of the vulnerable wooden frame, tile

roof dwelling lived in by most Japanese. When the first signs of

winter set in, the occupation forces immediately took over all the s

team-heated buildings. The Japanese were out in the cold in the first

post war winter fuel was very hard to find, a family was considered

lucky if they had a small barely glowing charcoal brazier to huddle

around. That next summer in random spots new ho uses were built, each

house was standardized at 216 square feet, and required 2400 board feet

of material in order to be built. A master plan for a modernistic city

had been drafted, but it was cast aside because of the lack of time

before the next winte r. The thousands of people who lived in railroad

stations and public parks needed housing.

All the Japanese heard was democracy from the Americans. All they

cared about was food. General MacAruther asked the government to send

food, when they refus ed he sent another telegram that said, "Send me

food, or send me bullets."

American troops were forbidden to eat local food, as to keep from

cutting from cutting into the sparse local supply.

No food was was brought in expressly for the Japanese durning the

first six months after the American presence there. Herbert Hoover,

serving as chairman of a special presidential advisory committee,

recommended minimum imports to Japan of 870,000 tons of food to be

distributed in different urban areas. Fi sh, the source of so much of

the protein in the Japanese diet, were no longer available in adequate

quantities because the fishing fleet, particularly the large vessels,

had been badly decimated by the war and because the U.S.S.R. closed

off the fishing g rounds in the north.

The most important aspect of the democratization policy was the

adoption of a new constitution and its supporting legislation. When

the Japanese government proved too confused or too reluctant to come up

with a constitutional reform that satisfied MacArthur, he had his own

staff draft a new constitution in February 1946. This, with only minor

changes, was then adopted by the Japanese government in the form of an

imperial amendment to the 1889 constitution and went into effect on May

3, 1947. The new Constitution was a perfection of the British

parliamentary form of government that the Japanese had been moving

toward in the 1920s. Supreme political power was assigned to the Diet.

Cabinets were made responsible to the Diet by having the prime minister

elected by the lower house. The House of Peers was replaced by an

elected House of Councillors. The judicial system was made as

independent of executive interference as possible, and a newly created

supreme court was given the power to review the constitutionality of

laws. Local governments were given greatly increased powers.

The Emperor was reduced to being a symbol of the unity of the

nation. Japanese began to see him in person. He went to hospitals,

schools, mines, industrial plants; he broke ground for public buildings

and snipped tape at the opening of gates and highways. He was steered

here and there, shown things, and kept muttering, "Ah so, ah so."

People started to call him "Ah-so-san." Suddenly the puybli c began to

take this shy, ill-at-ease man to their hearts. They saw in him

something of their own conqured selves, force to do what was alien to

them. In 1948, in a newspaper poll, Emperior Hirohito was voted the

most popular man in Japan.

Civil li berties were emphasized, women were given full equality

with men. Article 13 and 19 in the new Constitution, prohibits

discrimination in political, economic, and social relations because of

race, creed, sex, social status, or family origen. This is one of the

most explicitly progressive statements on human rights anywhere in law.

Gerneral Douglas MacArthur emerged as a radical feminist because he was

"convinced that the place of women in Japan must be brought to a level

consistent with that of women in the western democracies." So the

Japanese women got their equal rights amendment long before a concerted

effort was made to obtain one in America.

Compulsory education was extened to nine years, efforts were made

to make education more a traning in thinking than in rote memory, and

the school system above the six elementary grades was revised to

conform to the American pattern. This last mechanical change produced

great confusion and dissatisfaction but became so entrenched that it

could not be re vised even after the Americans departed.

Japan's agriculture was the quickest of national activities to

recover because of land reform. The Australians came up with the best

plan. 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 plots

of land, exceeding these limits, were bought up by the government and

sold on easy terms to former tenants. Within two years 2 million

tenants became landowners. The American occupation immediately gained

not only a large constituency, for the new owners had a vested interest

in preserving the change, but also a psychological momentum for other

changes they wanted to ini tiate.

The American labor policy in Japan had a double goal: to

encourage the growth of democratic unions while keeping them free of

communists. Union organization was used as a balance to the power of

management. To the surprise of the American authorties, this movement

took a decidedly more radical turn. In the desperate economic

conditions of early postwar Japan, there was little room for successful

bargaining over wages, and many labor unions instead made a bid to take

over industry and o perate it in their own behalf. Moreover large

numbers of workers in Japan were government employees, such as railroad

workers and teachers, whose wages were set not by management but by the

government. Direct political action therefore seemed more meani ngful

to these people than wage bargaining. The Japanese unions called for a

general strike on February 1, 1947. MacArthur warned the union

leadership that he would not countenace a nationwide strike. The

strike leaders yieled to MacArthur's will. The re after the political

appeal of radical labor action appeared to wane.

The Americans wanted to disband the great Zaibatsu trust as a

means of reducing Japan's war-making potential. There were about 15

Zaibatsu families such as - Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Yasuda, and Sumitomo.

The Zaibatsu controled the industry of Japan. MacArthur's liaison men

pressured the Diet into passing the Deconcentration Law in December

1947. In the eyes of most Japanese this law was designed to cripple

Japanese business and i ndustry forever. The first step in breaking up

the Zaibatsu was to spread their ownership out among the people and to

prevent the old owners from ever again exercising control. The stocks

of all the key holding companies were to be sold to the public.

Friends of the old Zaibatsu bought the stock. In the long run the

Zaibatsu were not exactly destroyed, but a few were weakened and others

underwent a considerable shuffle.

The initial period of the occupation from 1945 to 1948 was marked

by reform, the second phase was one of stabilization. Greater

attention was given to improvement of the economy. Japan was a heavy

expense to the United States. The ordered breakup of the Zaibatsu was

slowed down. The union movement continued to grow, to the ult imate

benefit of the worker. Unremitting pressure on employers brought

swelling wages, which meant the steady expansion of Japan domestic

consumer market. This market was a major reason for Japan's subsequent

economic boom. Another boom to the economy was the Korean War which

proved to be a blessing in disguise. Japan became the main staging

area for military action in Korea and went on a war boom economy with

out having to fight in or pay for a war.

The treaty of peace with Japan was signed at San Francisco in

September 1951 by Japan, the United States, and forty-seven other

nations. The Soviet Union refused to sign it. The treaty went into

effect in April 1952, officially terminating the United States military

occupation and restoring full independence.

What is extraordinary in the Occupation and its aftermath was the

insignificance of the unpleasant. For the Japanese, the nobility of

American ideals and the essential benignity of the American presence

assuaged much of the bitterness and anguish of defeat. For the

Americans, the joys of promoting peace and democracy triumphed over the

attendant fustrations and grievances. Consequently, the Occupation

served to lay down a substantial capital of good will on which both

America and Jap an would draw in the years ahead.


Christopher, Robert C. /The Japanese Mind/. New York: Fawcett

Columbine, 1983

La Cerda, John. /The Conqueror Comes to Tea/. New Brunswick: R utgers

University Press, 1946

Manchester, William. /American Caesar/. New York: Dell Publishing

Company, Inc., 1978

Perry, John Curtis. /Beneath the Eagle's Wings/. New York: Dodd, Mead

And Company, 1980

Reischauer, Edwin O. / The Japanese/. London: Belknap Press, 1977

Seth, Ronald. /Milestones in Japanese History/. Philadelphia: Chilton

Book Company, 1969

Sheldon, Walt. /The Honorable Conquerors/. New York: The Macmillan

Company., 1965 

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