Modern Japan Essay: Generally speaking, Japanese leaders and the Japanese people not merely accepted but actually supported the changes that occurred during the American occupation.

Modern Japan Essay: Generally speaking, Japanese leaders and the Japanese people not merely accepted but actually supported the changes that occurred during the American occupation.

Japan under Occupation

An essential story of the Occupation concerns how the United States and Japan could change their unimaginable political and social rivalry to one important ally. Amid the Pacific War (1941–45), the propaganda machines of both countries decried and dehumanized the enemy to a great and dangerous level (Gordon and Andrew 14). Every side was characterized by different atrocities, yet engaged just on those conferred by the other, and the citizens on both sides of the Pacific were on alert to expect the worse from each other. The Japanese had seen sixty-six of their significant urban areas and major cities demolished by the fierce fire of bombs and reduced to ashes. The twin bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 cannot escape many people’s mind. At their occurrences, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings brought an unexpected end to what has been known as a ‘war without mercy’, yet the choice to surrender was contradicted by military leaders until the Emperor interceded and broke a gridlock that existed among his senior advisors. Japan’s almost 15 year frenzy through Asia (1931–45) was done, at last killing an expected 3 million Japanese and more than 15 million Asians, for the most part in China. Japanese mercilessness actions in war, including abuse of prisoners-of-war (POWs), created assumptions favoring retaliation and punishment. It was in this unfriendly atmosphere that US troops arrived in Japan and started the Occupation (Higley, John and Burton 48). The American government argued that developing a democratic nation in Japan included change in every aspect of Japanese life. Under MacArthur and with the collaboration of the Japanese, Japan embraced colossal changes in only seven short years. This is the time that the occupation took place (1945 to 1952).

At the end of the war, it was the basic aim of all the Allied Powers to render Japan unequipped to go back to the battle field. In this regards, “Demilitarization” was in this manner the primary objective of the Occupation powers and was joined by nullifying Japan’s military, disassembling its military industry, and disposing of the statement of patriotism from its schools and public life. In any case, the American government, which was on the forefront for Allied war and whose delegate, General Douglas MacArthur, was named the Supreme Commander of the Occupation powers, felt that the only way to make Japan a peace-loving nation is to ensure prevalence of democracy.  It was accepted that most of the democratic counties such as the United States and Great Britain experienced a stable and peaceful undertaking as opposed to than nondemocratic nations. For instance, Hitler’s Germany and prewar Japan under the emperor were never characterized by peaceful undertakings (Leiter and Samuel 43). Taking that into consideration, a question that lingered in many people’s mind is what makes a nation “democratic”? Is a nation democratic nature basically on account of certain political organizations, such as free and fair election and free discourse? Could these political establishments survive if financial power is concentrated in only a couple hands, and social structures like the education framework and the acceptance and obedience to authority?

The accomplishment of the Occupation can be judged by the way that 50 years after occupation, Japan has not engaged in war like activities, has implemented and fully adopted most reforms brought by occupation, and has remained a close ally of the United States ever since.  However, it is worth noting that most people and especially the Japanese leaders supported the contribution and the reforms made by the occupation. Being under the emperor for quite a long time, it was not an easy call to change the mentality of the locals towards the democratic nature of the American leadership. However, with its leadership, Japan was longing for something new. Something that will not make the citizens to shed blood in a war field. The feeling of having to make free decisions and to experience the freedom of expression and governance made the Japanese, not only to accept but also to support the changes that was brought about by the occupation.

After the Americans left, most of the reforms that were not receiving the substandard support required to meet the threshold were abolished. For instance, the famous anti-monopoly laws were debilitated, giving way to emergence of new and innovative business ventures.  The central government assumed the all-important management and controls of the nation’s learning institutions, despite the fact that the democratic school structure and educational programs remained. However, the conservative party also played a role by suggesting other changes that turned to be vital to the development of current Japan. These changes include, re-introducing the moral training system in the schools and nullification of the “peace clause,” Article 9 of the constitution, however these were not embraced. In general, there was extraordinary prominent backing of the occupation ideologies, and the changed framework accordingly proceeds to the present.

The government is the voice of people in the democratic society. The fact that Japan embraced the concept of democracy in its political, social and economic spheres is a true reflection that the people of Japan gave their leaders the much needed support to implement the occupation changes. Any change that is oppressive will always be rejected by the citizens; hence the fact that occupation’s ideologies prevailed during the 7 years is a confirmation that the Japanese were positive and confident about it hence wanted to give it a try. In any society, a leader cannot succeed without the support of his or her subjects. Hence, the Japanese population embraced and supported the occupation and the changes it came with.

MacArthur and his advisors executed an important influence on the nature of democracy in Japan. According to Dower and John, the most important of the gains of MacArthur towards the implementation of the occupation principles was the writing the new Constitution in 1946 and the resultant persuasive of its acceptance by the Japanese Diet (68-72). After being promulgated in 1947, the constitution is regarded as the greatest achievement of the Occupation. This can be further explained by the fact that it has never been amended since its promulgation. With the constitution, basic human rights were introduced and the famous Rights of women. By spreading power within the country’s governance system and among the citizens, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) was aiming at to protect Japan from the menace of militarism (Cheong and Sung-hwa 34).

As expected, there were some resistances to the Occupation policies. Some Japanese conservatism viewed the concept of Occupation as an abuse to the Japan’s autonomy disregard to the country’s self-rule. In fact, Conservative Japanese tend to associate the current social and political problems to Occupation. For instance, they see women’s right and the legal equality, the reforms in the education system, demilitarization, the emperor system and other abolished Japanese traditional activities as processes of promoting Americanization hence harmful to the Japanese social fabric (Gordon and Andrew 79). However, most Japanese stay irresolute about the Occupation. The approaches of democratization and demilitarization were by and large invited at the time and there is still a considerable buildup of goodwill emanating from the positive legacies of that period. Older generation of the Japanese population, who lived during the Occupation, review the hardships and some unfortunate incidents, yet express for the most part positive impressions about the procedure of change unleashed by SCAP.

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