The American Occupation of Japan-Perspectives-Changes The Happens
By Space Coast Daily // May 10, 2021
“In Japanese culture, there is a belief that God is everywhere – in mountains, trees, rocks, even in our sympathy for robots or Hello Kitty toys.”
That is a quote from Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and I’m opening this episode with this as to me it resonates well with some of the conceptions that are held of Japan.
It is a leading-edge technological state with its feet firmly planted in global modernity. But on the other hand, it also has a deep sense of connection to its traditional insular past. So how did Japanese culture get to where it is today?
The answer lies in foreign influences imposed and embraced in the post-war years. I’m your host David and today we are going to look at the dramatic changes in Japanese culture that stemmed from the American occupation. If you want to confirm these sources then you can easily visit some reliable Q&A sites that helps in providing reliable information related history or SEO.
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Don’t forget that this also supports our channel! In order to understand post-war Japanese society and culture we need to have an idea of what Japan was like before the war. Modern Japan began with the 1868 Meiji Restoration, following the 1853 visit to the previously closed islands by American Commodore Matthew Perry.
That visit made the Japanese realize in shock how much the Western world had advanced and how little they themselves had moved forward . Vigorous attempts to modernize and industrialize the nation bore fruit in less than three decades. This was the first wave of Westernization which swept across Japan.
However, despite its modernization, Japan didn’t fully Westernize. Many beliefs, especially those regarding interpersonal relationships remained rooted in pre-Meiji traditionalism.
Until the end of the Second World War, Japan’s characteristics could be summarized in the slogan fukoku kyohei or “wealthy nation, strong army”. Under strong leadership, the Japanese people worked as a whole to achieve the nation’s goals of expanding overseas.
However, the rapid change brought by this breakneck industrial revolution meant that by the 1920’s Japan was in need of social reforms that it just wasn’t able to undertake. For example, most of the cultivable land was still owned by rich landholders and the zaibatsus, the industrial conglomerates. This meant that at least 40% of Japanese farmers were tenant farmers.
The zaibatsus also monopolized the markets, systematically strangling minor enterprises and using their influence to alter laws and keep worker’s rights to a minimum . Changes to this system would only come with the second wave of westernization, the one that came with the American Occupation Forces.
Determined to transform the land of the rising sun into a trustworthy and dependable ally and Asian bulwark to stand against communism, the US would radically change Japan.
You would probably be surprised by how little resistance the Japanese people actually offered to the political and social changes that were being imposed on them . But it becomes easier to understand when you consider that by 1945 most Japanese were tired of war, which had turned into a nightmare of constant bombing of the large cities and had culminated in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A large percentage of the population was also disappointed with both the government and the military and blamed them for the calamities they had brought upon the nation. So, responsibility for the implementation of the changes the US wanted to make lay with Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur, who in the first years of the war exhibited great zeal in his task.
In Japan, that organization was known as General Headquarters or GHQ and one of the tasks that was delegated to GHQ was the creation of a new constitution, which was partly based on the constitution of the United States and would be used to achieve one of the major goals of the US occupation, the demilitarization of Japan.
The new constitution was drafted in 1946 and became effective on the 3rd of May 1947. It is famous for its 9th article in which Japan formally denounces all belligerent actions.
This, as MacArthur himself stated many times, was remarkably the idea of a Japanese man, prime minister Kijuro Shidehara, who in his diaries said that he came up with it while onboard a train to Tokyo. His reasoning was that the military had lost the respect of the people and keeping armed forces would make the Japanese obsessed with the idea of rearming the country .