Academic journal article Journalism History
Book Reviews -- from Enemy to Ally: Japan, the American Business Press, and the Early Cold War by James F. Hilgenberg Jr
American businesses looking to eastern Europe as an investment opportunity learned quickly that every government has a different definition for two terms: democracy and economic reform. They also learned that, in the hierarchy of importance to a population, democracy comes in a distant second to economic reform.
This was the same position taken by the U.S. business press during the U.S. occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952. The belief that "you cannot teach democracy to a hungry people" was widely expressed. Business columnists called for the U.S. to not meddle by trying to create a social revolution. Instead, they wrote, the United States should concentrate on getting the labor force manufacturing and trading again.
Hilgenberg's From Enemy To Ally shows how the U.S. occupation of post-war Japan shifted in emphasis during the seven years, and how the U.S. business press reported on the changing emphases. If the premise is true that "the business of America is business," then following the business interests of political action is an appropriate way to measure the action's impact on American society. In other words, how did the occupation affect America? The business press was a way to find the answer to this question.
The U.S. business press wanted Japan back on its economic (but not its military) feet because there was fear that the occupation of the defeated country could bankrupt the victorious country. The occupation was simply costing too much. Then, when it became clear that the Soviet Union was becoming a threat to U.S. interests, a strong Japan became even more important. A strong former enemy was crucial to halting the spread of communism in East Asia. …