The very first job which was assigned to MacArthur throughout the Occupation was the demilitarization. Setting up as the first agenda, MacArthur believed that the disarmament of Japanese military forces could be a very good punishment as well as a peaceful progress for the Pre-War Japanese government (Campbell, 2016). It did not take a very long time for the entire Japanese army to be disbanded. In addition to that, aiming to weaken the power of the Japanese army, right-wing militarists who had the power in the government office were also purged (Kingston, 2014). Roughly 200,000 prominent military, political and business leaders were purged during the Occupation. Another significant action relating to the dismantling Japanese military power was introduced: the US imposed the constitutional reformation regarding of Japanese military. The Article 9 in the new Constitution particularly outlines that Japan is not allowed to have a military (Schaller, 1985).
Demilitarization as the most direct goal from MacArthur (and the US) achieved success and benefited Japan’s national security and economic development to a larger extent. On the one hand, demilitarization means cutting off the military spending which saved the national spending on the military. Instead, the budget contributed to Japan’s post-war reconstruction and economic development significantly. And with the following peace treaty agreed upon by Japan and the US, Japan can be protected under the US umbrella. Although Japan is only allowed to have the self-defense power, the International Society still witnessed the 70 years of peace in Japan after the end of WWII. This is significant even until today (Hazard & Goodman, 1971). Additionally, some scholars even praised Japan for ending its militarism and adopting pacifism in the country after when it is defeated due to the demilitarization. In sharp contrast to those positive impacts, demobilization also left negative influences to Japan, especially regarding of the Article 9.
Since Article 9 and the Allied Occupation required Japan for disbanding its military forces, the conservatives in Japan think they lost their sovereignty rights to the US. In order to pursue national security in the world, they can be only dependent on the US. Japanese military power is unfairly limited. More seriously, the Article 9 and the action of demilitarization restrict the Japanese ability to respond to current security issues caused by neighboring emerging power such as China and North Korea.
For this reason, many people in Japan regard the Constitution and the decision of demilitarization as an anachronistic imposition from America (Rogers, 2015). And at the current stage, there are increasing voices of changing the Article 9 within the Japanese society which leads to some server debates and conflicts in the Japanese society. Democratization – Political AspectsThe second mission MacArthur was appointed to carry out was regarding of reformation for democracy in Japan. For Americans, a democratic Japan is peaceful and can further reduce the risk of the outbreak of war. Throughout the process of democratization, the new Constitution as the foundation altered various aspects in the Japanese political system. The most predominant change brought by the Constitution was the declining power of the Japanese emperor. Written in the new Constitution, the Japanese royal power would no longer be viewed as a god, but instead as an ordinary Japanese man (Hazard & Goodman, 1971). The traditional power structure in the society was changed.
As the political basis of democracy, this change declared that the country belongs to the Japanese citizens, not the emperor. Nonetheless, interestingly, MacArthur and SCAP still “manipulated” the emperor’s presence for increase the acceptance of new Constitution (Kingston, 2015). Along with the stripping power of the Japanese emperor, Japanese political structure experienced several profound changes: a competitive party system was introduced, the administrative was, political and fiscal authority to the local level was proposed, and the judiciary was being independent. Accordingly, Japanese citizens including women practiced certain levels of freedom, as they were guaranteed certain aspects of civil and political rights.
In short, all of those changes facilitate the democratization in Japan. The goal of democratization was successful and advantageous which transformed Japan from a defeated nation to a modern democratic state. The new Constitution leaves a significant impact on Japan. The decision-making process in Japan was more open, therefore, the government became more accountable, transparent and responsible in the history. The political institution still functions properly today as Japan’s parliament.
Furthermore, democratic Japan was in more advanced and powerful position in Asian during the 1980s and 1990s (Schaller, 1985). Many scholars give credits to the democratic process in Japan which assist the country to become a leading power in Asia in the following year. However, as the major negative effect of democratization, Japan lost its sovereignty and national characters during the process. Japan was treated as a secondary nation to the US.
While, the US was in the senior position, guided through Japan for every step of reformation, including introducing the new Constitution for Japan. The royal power was stripped and remained as the symbol. Many other traditional Japanese values were requested to eliminated since the Western ideology — democracy was addressed. Apart from that, Japan was isolated by the US from the rest of the world. There was a travel restriction imposed during the Occupation period even for ordinary Japanese citizens (Dower, 2000).
Economic Aspects of Building Modern StatesOne of the approaches that to convert Japan into a democratic and free nation like the US was to transform Japan to the modern capitalist state. There was various economic reformation took place with the American influences with the purpose of serving the democratic process. The reformation started from the Japanese agriculture.
As the foundation of the Japanese economy, Japanese agricultural sectors got very quick and substantial improvement from land reform. Besides, the land reform successfully changed the power structure between ordinary farmers and landowners. Rich landowners who were mostly expansionism that supported WWII were targeted. Conversely, the large population of farmers had been benefited from redistributing of land (Smethurst, n.d.
). Subsequently, the land reform brought up agrarian revolution with upgrading technology and new economic opportunities. Likewise, in the Japanese business, the conservative power had been weakened. Big Japanese conglomerates such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, and Yasuda were targeted. SCAP broke up Zaibatsu as the way to change the monopoly situation, to democratize economic power and free market capitalist system which allows competition.
But the reform was not implemented completely partially due to the difficulties of economic recovery Japan had to overcome (Dower, 2000). Further, labor which is another crucial economic factor got liberalized during the Occupation period. The organizations and activities of labor union were encouraged by SCAP as the way to form a free market and to enable free trade (Moran, 1949). When the economic reformation faced difficulties, the Korean War “saved” Japan by offering more economic opportunities for the country’s industries.
With the assistance of United States, Japan experienced a great transition from a defeated nation to a modern democratic country with an open market. The major economic reconstruction appeared smoothly after the WWII. Apart from that, there was a great reduction of disease, starvation and other kinds of disturbance inside the country (Campbell, 2016).
Other aspects of the economy such as business, agriculture and labor forces had all been boosted by the reform and leading to the economic reconstruction. Japan turned into a crucial part supplying weapons and necessities for the US troops during the Korean War. During the Korean War, Japanese enterprise re-earned millions of dollars from doing military business with the Americans. The inexpensive Japanese labor forces were mobilized as well (Schaller, 1985). Fortunately, Japan established its position in Asia and benefited economically from being a crucial ally of the US. In contrast to the general improvement, the economic reform still had many challenges and issues. One of the problems was the rich were treated unfairly during the reform.
Compensation fees which were offered to the original rich were so little (Kingston, 2014, p.15). Different organizations of labor union were treated unequally as well.
According to Moran (1949), only the democratic labor union was allowed to activate. The labor union group led by the communist ideas were restricted. In addition, the economic reformation also had to deal with the economic crisis brought by it. Breaking up Zaibatsu in Japan triggered the inflation from 1945 to 1949 in four years. This was the first economic failure during the Occupation period. Even though this issue got recovered after the Korean War (Smethurst, n.d).
It still left certain negative influences. Social AspectsVarious social reform programs were carried out accordingly, aiming to support the democratization process of Japanese society. The Allied Occupation introduced diverse “propaganda” into their actions. Among all, the education reform was the most evident program. The textbook contents had been changed: the traditional Japanese morality, history and the geography had been replaced by the American ideas. The new generation in Japan started to adopt liberal and western knowledge (Schaller, 1985). Furthermore, the education reform also enhanced the individual freedom, especially the improvement of women’s rights.
Women in Japan earned their rights to vote, to enter the government, and to acquire higher education. Apart from the education reform, the American propaganda was also delivered by Hollywood movies and other cultural products (Shunya, 2008). In other words, American influence changed the Japanese people’s cultural consumption habits. For instance, the “American life in the 1950s” was the ideal home life for many Japanese households. The religion reform was also introduced to liberalize and change the traditional Japanese people’s way of thinking. The national support of Shinto was abolished. Moreover, the worship of emperor was prohibited correspondingly. Even the Japanese language using had been simplified by the US for the purpose of Westernization (Hazard & Goodman,1971).
The impact of social reformation was powerful that brought significant social improvements in the Japanese society. The SCAP addressed the social change from factors such as education, religion, and daily cultural consumptions. The impact of those social changes was positive to some extent. On the one hand, the occupational reform was a starting point for progressing Japan to a modern nation. Japanese women in the traditional Confucius society had been empowered. With the educational reform, the general literacy rate and school attendance rate were increased. Additionally, the alteration of textbooks to the modern American ideology eliminated the growing nationalism and the threat of future military aggression (Shunya, 2008). On the other hand, the Occupation also made Japanese society surrender their traditions, memories, ideologies and even dignity.
Japan was in no position deciding their own future, let alone, negotiating with the overwhelmingly influence from the US (Kingston, 2014). The American not only occupied the land, but also the core of Japanese spirit. The social reformation was unequal and some even suggest as racist. The Japanese culture was being regarded as inferior to the American (Hazard & Goodman, 1971).
Shinto, as well as the emperor, were retreated from people’s worshiping. Throughout the education reformation, the future generation of Japan would no longer remember their Japanese-ness. The improving of women status also ruined the Japanese family system (ie system). The vestiges of imperial ideology which regarded by many Japanese as the soul of their cultures have been eliminated (Shunya, 2008). Many conservatives attributed many contemporary issues to the lacking of traditional values of Japanese morality.
They think Japan with the domination of young generation who adopted American individualism, democracy, freedom is troublesome. ConclusionThe Allied Occupation changed Japan from militarily, political, economic, cultural, and social perspectives. It is clear that impacts of the Allied Occupation are multidimensional that both contain strengthens and weaknesses. Therefore, it is hard to simply or clearly distinguish those consequences as positive or negative. Japan achieved the agenda set by the SCAP in terms of democratization and demilitarization. Japan not only made a full recovery from the devastated WWII but also developed as a strong and powerful nation with its great economic and cultural impacts in the world. Japan is praised by international societies for its pacifism.
Due to the constraint of the article 9, the only available army in Japan, the self-defense force (SDF) made the huge contribution to the global humanitarian operation. With the assistance of the US, politically speaking, Japan improved its political system, transferring from the militaristic monarchy to the stable modern parliamentary government and an accountable and decentralized decision-making process. Economically, Japan experienced a successful transition after the WWII and the miracle post-war reconstruction. Ranging from agriculture, heavy industries, to business, the economic reform guided by the Allied Occupation with the support of the US opened many new opportunities in Japan. As for social perspective, the educational reformation undoubtedly improved the human rights and literacy rate. The modern western ideologies introduced during the Occupation period also assisted Japan to establish its leading position in Asia and to become a vital American ally. Despite the above-mentioned are the merits that the US and the Allied Occupation left to Japan and its citizens, Japan received many negative treatments from the US as to to achieve those ambitious modernization goal.
They even sacrificed their national sovereignty. There is an unequal relationship between the US and Japan. Japan as a nation state was subordinated to the US and was dependent on the US umbrella for national security defense and economic development. More seriously, the Americans adopted relatively racists approaches when dealing with Japan. Furthermore, Japan also lost some of their national characters during the social reforms, as the US replaced the traditional Japanese values with Western ideologies. The pattern still persists more than a half-century when the Occupation ended. Thanks to the Article 9 and demilitarization, Japan encounters many national security threats from neighboring countries such as North Korea but have limited reactions.
The cost-benefit relationship between Japan and the United States is complex that they are both independent of each other. The Occupation operation lays as the foundation of the current US-Japan relationship. Under today’s world system with new challenges, reconsidering the meaning of occupation is important. The US never truly leaves Japan. The legacy of the Occupation, both positive and negative, still alive after 60 years. Regardless of positive and negative impacts, the Allied Occupation is significant in the history for both Japan and the US.