Far Eastern Governments and Politics: China and Japan

By Paul M. A. Linebarger; Djang Chu et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY
The scaffolding Of Democracy (Occupation Government and Politics, I)

PERHAPS the strangest feature of the momentous occupation of the Japanese Empire by United States military and civil authority, cloaked though it was by the formality of international participation, was the fact that the American people as a whole never seemed to realize how revolutionary an act they and their government were committing. By accepting the occupation of Japan as a responsibility, by rejoicing in it as a consequence of victory, the Americans implicitly accepted the novel and disturbing assumption that a completely foreign culture could be modified in short order by the installation of democratic authority.

Generations subsequent to ours will speak with the voice of history. They, as men of the future, will be able to look back upon the consequences of the enterprise as well as upon the enterprise itself. They will be, as we are not, able to judge the consequences of this strange and hazardous political enterprise: the subjugation and occupation of one of the empires of the old world by a republic of the new.

The Occupation can be taken in a sense as the first forcible export, since Benedict Arnold's ill-starred campaign against Quebec in 1778, of the principles of American freedom. The American people, section for section, group for group, of all economic levels, saw nothing strange in our compelling Japan to become democratic. Generations of Americans have lived and died smugly superior to their old world neighbors, positive in their views that democracy of the American variety was a special and quite peculiar product of a new land, a new population, a new nation. The democratization which America had undertaken before the occupation of Japan were all of them

-445-

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