COLD WAR OVERSEAS - JAPAN 1945 - 55
1945 to 1955 - a new sphere for prosperity
The stresses from surviving added to support for Communists, Socialists and labor unions, thereby affecting the circumstances in which high policy was made.
2. Tennis or
The U.S. Office of War Information commissioned anthropologist Ruth Benedict to provide a manual to alert the occupation forces to cultural differences. Although she presented a multi-faceted account of Japanese thought and behaviour, her approach to most questions was binary. She got stuck in dichotomies, for instance, between the exquisite and the cruel. (see The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, Patterns of Japanese Culture Meridian, Cleveland, 1967 edition.) A book which had alerted the occupiers to their own mores might not have stopped the erstwhile Supreme Commander for Allied Powers (SCAP), General Macarthur’s declaring in 1951 that the Japanese were like twelve-year olds.
Marketing later advanced Japan’s embrace of North American mores, for which see George Fields, From Bonzai to Levis, Mentor, New York, 1985.
The legalisation of trade unions had a parallel effect on urban workers but this reform was crimped by SCAP’s determination to control Leftists. Macarthur forbade a general strike in 1947. Leftists were purged from public life after 1948.
In 1960, radicals and pacifists prevented the visit to Tokyo of President Eisenhower to sign the renewal of the Mutual Security Treaty. Those demonstrators confronted Yakuza gangs marshaled by Kodama Yoshio as the ‘Shadow Shogun’ and intimate of fellow A-Class war criminal, prime minister Kishi Nobusuke. (see David E. Kaplan & Alec Dubro,Yakuza, Futura, London, 1987).
6. Never an ally
a. The British Commonwealth Occupying Force, which SCAP sidelined in disputes over trade policies as well as over the War Crimes trials.
b. Washington was even more determined to marginalise - indeed to exclude - the USSR from any say in the making of post-war Japan. Moscow soon had nothing more than a scatter of islands to the north.
c. Interwoven with the anti-Soviet drive was the future of China. From 1947, Washington accepted that it would itself be marginalised by the rising power of Mao’s communists. In the lead up to the establishment of the People’s Republic in October 1949, trade between China and Japan had been on the rise. Yoshida had expected to expand economic relations and to acknowledge its “Red bandit” government. Congress blocked those prospects, funded by the Taiwan Lobby. Tokyo had to recognise the Republic of China.
d. Korean hatred of the Japanese meant that Tokyo could never play a direct part in conflicts on the peninsula. The provisioning of the U.S. and U.N. forces gave the Japanese economy what Yoshida called “Divide Aid” (a play on the “Divine Wind”, kamikaze, which had preserved Japan from invasion in 1281.)
e. By 1947, US officials had accepted that South-East Asia would be the way to revive the Japanese economy. On 2 June 1948, George Kennan presented NSC13 which advocated an export-led recovery. The Departments of State and Defence accepted that Japan would have to have its co-prosperity sphere restored. (For the case of Indonesia, see Nishihara Masashi, The Japanese and Sukarno’s Indonesia, Tokyo-Jakarta Relations 1951-1966, University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu, 1976.)
f. Australia and New Zealand secured the ANZUS Treaty as a guarantee when reluctantly signing up to the 1951 Peace Treaty. ANZUS committed Australia and New Zealand to the defence of Japan.
In sum, US policy-makers came to
visualise their containing of communism behind what they called a
“great crescent” from India to Japan.
Key Concepts and Issues
1. In what sense can the term ‘ally’ be applied to Tokyo’s relationship with Washington?
2. Did the US occupation of Japan end in 1952? If not, when?
3. How did domestic affairs and external relations interact? Was one the more decisive?
4. How did trade policies fit in with military strategies?
5. By 1955, was Japan closer to a liberal democracy than to a one-party state?
6. Had Japan re-armed by 1955?
7. As a piece of counter-factual condition analysis, consider what would have happened had the war gone on long enough for the Soviet Army to occupy Hokkaido and northern Honshu. For instance, would the renunciation of war (Article 9) have even been considered by SCAP for inclusion in the Constitution?
Dower is a small-l liberal who established his reputation with Empire and Aftermath: Yoshida Shigeru and the Japanese Experience, 1878-1954, Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard, 1979, and War Without Mercy, Race and Power in the Pacific War, Faber, London, 1986. Dower has his research on the Occupation era in a 676 page opus, Embracing Defeat, Japan in the Wake of World War II, Norton, New York, 1999.
Carol Gluck, “The Idea of Showa”, Daedalus, 119 (3), Summer 1990, pp. 1-26. Offering an anthropologist’s summary of the reign of Hirohito, Gluck puts changing political attitudes into the context of social and cultural life.
Alan Rix (ed.), Intermittent Diplomat, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1988, offers a perceptive and witty perspective on life around GHQ from the diary of W. McMahon Ball, professor of Political Science, University of Melbourne.
Howard Schonberger, “The Japan Lobby in American Diplomacy, 1947-52”, Pacific Historical Review, 46 (3), August 1977, pp. 327-59.
Shigeto Tsuru, Japan’s Capitalism, Creative Defeat and Beyond, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993, Chapters 1 & 2.