Aftermath of War: Americans and the Remaking of Japan, 1945-1952

Aftermath of War: Americans and the Remaking of Japan, 1945-1952

Aftermath of War: Americans and the Remaking of Japan, 1945-1952

Aftermath of War: Americans and the Remaking of Japan, 1945-1952

Excerpt

With the fighting in World War II over in mid-August 1945, more than one-half million American troops moved to occupy Japan. Much of the country was ruined, buried under the rubble and debris of saturation bombing and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The rulers of Japan were stunned by defeat; the people feared what the victors might impose upon them. With breathtaking audacity, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, set out to remake an ancient and highly sophisticated society of some eighty million people.

Only in the first four months after the war did the Occupation of Japan receive any widespread attention by the American public. With hatred of the Japanese aroused by the bloody military campaigns in the Pacific in 1944 and 1945, Americans closely watched to see that SCAP--an acronym applied to both MacArthur and Occupation headquarters--demilitarized Japan and carried out a program to democratize the country in line with directives from Washington. Once satisfied by news that General MacArthur had the Japanese in hand, Americans who thought at all about foreign affairs during the early Cold War era concentrated on the crises in Europe, the Middle East, or China and tended to forget about Japan altogether. That tendency went largely unchecked for almost twenty-five years after the Japanese peace and security treaties of 1951 ended the Occupation.

However, over the last decade there has been a growing fascination by Americans with Japan which oscillates between awe and fear. Those on the left are worried about gathering evidence of a resurgence of Japanese militarism and ultranationalism. Japanese economic expansion, they argue, has led . . .

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