Allied Occupation of Japan

military government

military government, rule of enemy territory under military occupation. It is distinguished from martial law, which is the temporary rule by domestic armed forces over disturbed areas. The practices of military government were standardized before World War I, notably at the Hague Conferences (1899, 1907) and form a part of the laws of war (see war, laws of).

During and after World War II, vast territories came under military government. During the war, Germany administered occupied countries through a hierarchy of Kommandaturen [military government headquarters], but this normal army administration was often duplicated by civilian economic agencies and Gestapo personnel. In France, Norway, Greece, and Serbia, local puppet governments were authorized to operate under German control; Belgium and NE France were under purely military government; in Eastern Europe, authority was concentrated in 1941 in the ministry for eastern occupied territories. German military government often violated the rules laid down by the Hague Conventions.

Allied Military Government (AMG) began to function in Sicily and in Italy in 1943; it sought to utilize local civilian authorities to the widest possible extent. When operating in Allied territory, such as France, AMG became Civil Affairs and was limited to combat areas. After the termination of military operations, Germany and Austria were divided (1945) into four occupation zones and military government was reorganized. At first it was subject in general policy to the authority of the U.S.-Soviet-British-French Allied Control Councils in Berlin and Vienna. In time, the growing dissension between the Western powers and the USSR led to the breakdown of the quadripartite system in Germany and in Berlin. The British, French, and American zones were soon amalgamated for most purposes and ultimately became the state of West Germany; in opposition to them stood the Soviet zone, which later became the East German state.

In Austria and Vienna disharmony was less evident, and military control ended in 1955 with the signing of a peace treaty between Austria and the four Allied occupying powers. In Japan, military government became a solely American responsibility, though subject to suggestions of an 11-power Allied council. It was ended by the signing of the peace treaty with Japan (1951).

In response to the experiences of World War II, a new convention covering military occupation was signed in Geneva in 1949. In recent years, the most prominent military occupation of a region has been that by Israeli forces of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

See E. Fraenkel, Military Occupation and the Rule of Law (1944); C. J. Friedrich, ed., American Experiences in Military Government in World War II (1948); D. A. Graber, Development of the Law of Military Occupation, 1863–1914 (1948, repr. 1969); C. Clapman et al., ed., The Political Dilemmas of Military Regimes (1985).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944-1952
Robert Wolfe.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1984
Partners for Democracy: Crafting the New Japanese State under MacArthur
Ray A. Moore; Donald L. Robinson.
Oxford University Press, 2002
Aftermath of War: Americans and the Remaking of Japan, 1945-1952
Howard B. Schonberger.
Kent State University Press, 1989
MacArthur's Japan
Russell Brines.
J.B. Lippincott, 1948
Eastern Phoenix: Japan since 1945
Mikiso Hane.
Westview Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "The End of the Pacific War"
Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History
Harry Wray; Hilary Conroy.
University of Hawaii Press, 1983
Librarian’s tip: Part XI "The Allied Occupation: How Significant Was It?"
Occupation of Japan: Policy and Progress
U.S. Department of State.
U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1946
Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation
Michael Schaller.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Political Reorientation of Japan, September 1945 to September 1948; Report
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Government Section.
U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1949
The Birth of Japan's Postwar Constitution
Koseki Shōichi; Ray A. Moore; Ray A. Moore.
Westview Press, 1997
Japan's Economy in War and Reconstruction
Jerome B. Cohen.
University of Minnesota Press, 1949
Japan, from Surrender to Peace
E. J. Lewe van Aduard.
Martinus Nijhoff, 1953
The Police in Occupation Japan: Control, Corruption and Resistance to Reform
Christopher Aldous.
Routledge, 1997
The Yoshida Memoirs: The Story of Japan in Crisis
Shigeru Yoshida; Kenichi Yoshida.
Heinemann, 1961
The Atomic Bomb Suppressed: American Censorship in Occupied Japan
Monica Braw.
M. E. Sharpe, 1991
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