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Japan After World War 2 Essay

1608 words - 7 pages

Japan after World War II

The occupation of Japan was, from the beginning to the end, an American operation. General Douglas MacArthur, sole supreme commander of the Allied Power was in charge of it. The Americans had insufficient men to make a military government of Japan possible; so they decided to act through the existing Japanese government. General Mac Arthur became, except in name, dictator of Japan. He imposed his will on Japan. Demilitarisation was speedily carried out, demobilisation of the former imperial forces was completed by early 1946.

Japan was extensively fire bombed during the second world war. The stench of sewer gas, rotting garbage, and the acrid smell of ashes ...view middle of the document...

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American troops were forbidden to eat local food, as to keep from cutting from cutting into the sparse local supply.

No food was brought in expressly for the Japanese during 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. Fish, 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 USSR closed off the fishing grounds in the north.

The most important aspect of the democratisation 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. Suddenly the public began to take this shy, ill-at-ease man to their hearts. They saw in him something of their own conquered selves, force to do what was alien to them. In 1948, in a newspaper poll, Emperor Hirohito was voted the most popular man in Japan.

Civil liberties were emphasised, 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 origin. This is one of the most explicitly progressive statements on human rights anywhere in law. General 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.

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