Magazine article The Christian Century

MacArthur Encouraged Religion in Postwar Japan

Magazine article The Christian Century

MacArthur Encouraged Religion in Postwar Japan

Article excerpt

A NEW BOOK on postwar Japan says Gen. Douglas MacArthur sought to fill the country's "spiritual vacuum" with religious and quasi-religious beliefs, from Christianity to Freemasonry, as an antidote to communism.

In 1945 Under the Shadow of the Occupation: The Ashlar and the Cross, Japanese investigative journalist Eiichiro Tokumoto documents MacArthur's efforts to persuade missionaries to intensify their efforts, even encouraging mass conversions to Catholicism.

"There was a complete collapse of faith in Japan in 1945--in our invincible military, in the emperor, in the religion that had become known as 'state Shinto,'" Tokumoto writes. His book so far has been published only in Japanese.

A number of documents that Tokumoto used for research were declassified only recently, including accounts of a 1946 meeting between MacArthur and two U.S. Catholic bishops.

"General MacArthur asked us to urge the sending of thousands of Catholic missionaries-at once," bishops John F. O'Hara and Michael J. …

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