When General MacArthur landed with the first United States troops in Japan in September 1945, he found devastated cities and a wide-spread collapse of economic and financial structures.

He found a totalitarian economy, in which a feudal oligarchy of militarists and industrial magnates controlled more than 80 per cent of the nation's commerce, industry, and finance. The 78 million Japanese people, docile by training and terrorized by fear, were without a voice in the determination of their governmental affairs. Repressive laws blocked the development of labor unions; and labor administration was under police domination. Time-worn sanctions excluded women from public affairs. Old laws forbade freedom of speech of a free press, and thousands of political dissenters were in prison.

The Japanese economy was in a critical state. Industry had virtually come to a halt. Stockpiles of essential raw materials--particularly ingots and pig iron--were near the Vanishing point. The vital rice crop was at 68 per cent of average pre-war levels. In relation to demand, production of timber for rebuilding and of wood for fuel was negligible. Food production by fisheries and farms had suffered a sever decline.

The ultimate objective of the Allied Powers was to foster conditions which would give the greatest possible assurance that Japan would never again become a menace to the family of nations. As set forth in the Potsdam Declaration, this task included they carrying out of the following five-fold program: (1) acceptance of the Cairo Declaration and the limiting of Japanese sovereignty to the four main islands and such minor islands as the Allied Powers determined; (2) the abolition of militarism and ultra-nationalism in all their forms; (3) the disarmament and demilitarization of Japan, with continuing control over Japan's capacity to make war; (4) the strengthening of democratic tendencies and processes in governmental, economic, and social institutions; and (5) the encouragement and support of liberal political tendencies in Japan.

The demilitarization of Japan's army, navy and war potential was first on the agenda. The Japanese war and navy ministries, the ministry of munitions, the Greater East Asia Ministry, and the related agencies of Japanese aggression were abolished. The infamous secret police system was crushed. Thousands of political prisoners were released and their political and civil rights restored.

In keeping with Allied commitments made under the Potsdam Declaration, a gigantic Japanese repatriation program was initiated. Remnants of the battered Japanese navy and merchant marine, heavily augmented by United States Liberty ships and LSTs, outfitted in Japan and manned by Japanese crews, were used for transporting Japanese back from the Asiatic mainland and the islands of the Pacific. Today, more than 6,114,000 Japanese have been repatriated. Only the return of Japanese from Siberia and other Soviet-controlled areas remains a major problem. The Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, in 1947, offered to provide shipping 160,000 repatriates each month. However, the Soviets have not even met their previously agreed quota of 50,000 a month; and during the winters of 1947-48 and 1948-49, they suspended all repatriation on the basis that climatic conditions made the movement impossible. It has been estimated that about 400,000 Japanese remain in Soviet areas. At the current 1948 rate, the repatriation program would be completed not earlier than 1950.

The Far Eastern Commission established an economic level of Japan, to preclude the possibility of future aggression. Any surplus industrial capacities that might conceivably form the nucleus for future rearmament were earmarked for disposal as reparations. in 1946, the FEC designated nine categories of industrial plants for removal, under an interim reparation program. All machine tools and ball bearing plants, all facilities for the production of caustic soda, sulphuric acid, soda ash and chlorine, all munitions plants, shipbuilding yards, and thermal electric plants surplus to the needs of a peaceful economy were designated for reparations.

Great strides have been made in democratizing the government. Under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, the Japanese have been permitted to govern themselves under Allied directives. At the direction of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General MacArthur, the first parliamentary elections were held in April 1946. For the first time in Japan's history women voted, and 38 women were elected to office.

A new construction, guaranteeing economic, social, political, and cultural freedom was passed by an overwhelming vote of the Diet and went into effect in the spring of 1947. The new constitution, an historic landmark, is a realistic application of democratic principles by a large, modern state. As early as April 1947, the Japanese people, under their new constitution and through democratic procedures, elected 232,863 officials on all levels of government. These officials are carrying forward the work of self-government and self-reformation within Japan so that, eventually, Japan may gain acceptance in the community of peaceful, democratic nations.

SCAP's first action in the foreign trade field was to abolish the Koeki Eidan, the wartime import-export agency which was one of the tools of the Japanese aggression. The Japanese government was directed to establish a new agency to handle foreign trade. This agency, Boeki Cho, set up a yen revolving fund to pay for American supplies from the sale of Japanese goods. Two objectives are fundamental to the foreign trade policy of the Occupation government: (1) the creation of a balanced trade position for Japan, and (2) the attainment of a volume of foreign trade--to permit the Japanese to attain a self-sufficiency which will eliminate need for continued appropriations from the United States.

With Japan's industrial war potential removed and a peace-time production level established, SCAP set about the task of reorganizing the country's industrial arrangements. The Japanese government was directed to replace industrial control companies with public agencies. A system of materials allocation was set up; technological improvements in food processing were encouraged; and the shipbuilding industry was rapidly converted to construction of trawlers and fishing vessels of all types.

The economic rehabilitation of Japan is closely tied in with the efficient use of her domestic resources. Early in the Occupation, surveys in the fields of mining and geology, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry revealed the extent to which utilization of Japan's meager natural resources had been dislocated by the war. They pointed up the urgent need for emergency measures and for basic long-range reforms.

The most pressing problem was the shortage of food and fuel. To avoid the threat of starvation, SCAP recommended numerous emergency measures to increase the indigenous food supply. Fishing areas were extended beyond the original boundaries established immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Quantities of netting, cotton, rope, wire, and other equipment were made available from Japanese sources, principally from wartime stockpiles. Arrangements were made for the purchase, by the Japanese government, of United States fuel oil for fishing vessels. Fertilizer materials, seeds, and farmtools were made available to farmers. Lands formerly used for military purposes were converted into farms. Food production, collection, and consumption in the 1945 rice year were analyzed; forecast analyses were made; and recommendations were proposed for streamlining the food collection machinery. The problem of feeding Japan's millions is still the most urgently critical problem and involves continuation of many of the emergency measures put into effect in the immediate post-surrender period. The responsibility rests primarily with the Japanese government, with SCAP exercising close surveillance of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, both in administering food collection and in encouraging production. Assistance in this program is being given by the United States, through imports of large quantities of materials.

As a step toward increasing the fuel supply, investigations were made of mining methods, capacities, and reserves. Labor and materials requirements were analyzed, and improved techniques were introduced. Conferences were held with Japanese cabinet ministers to stimulate governmental action. As a result, the production of coal has tripled, although it still remains below minimum requirements.

Emphasis has shifted gradually from emergency operations to long-range planning for technological improvement and for the conservation of Japan's depleted natural resources. SCAP experts have searched painstakingly, both within and outside Japan proper, for potential sources of raw materials. For the first time in Japanese history, a regional survey of all oil producing strata has been undertaken. Through the efforts of SCAP engineers, petroleum production has been reorganized, and a Petroleum Exploration Advancement Committee, composed of Japanese scientists, has been created, to locate new sources of oil in Japan.

SCAP forestry experts found that Japan had been cutting two of three times the amount of timber replacement growing in her forests. At the same time, about 14 per cent of the forest area was unused because of the lack of roads. Timber production has been maximized, tot meet and even exceed production has been maximized, to meet and even exceed the requirements for reconstruction and economic rehabilitation. The current reforestation program calls for planting, in the next five years, nine billion seedlings--enough to reforest 10 million acres. SCAP has encouraged the replanting of over-cut protective forests, for erosion control. To bring unused forest areas into production, 276 miles of forest roads were built, giving access to 270,000 acres of forests.

Lumber is a key commodity. During World War II, the lumber industry was under the control of the Japan Lumber Company, an instrumentality of the Japanese government. In order to insure proper distribution of lumber while allowing for the rebirth of free enterprise, SCAP dissolved the government agency and established forest industry associations.

In the field of labor relations, the conditions under which a free and democratic labor movement can develop are being fostered. The wartime "labor front" organizations that were subject to police control have been dissolved. Repressive labor laws, which blocked the development of labor unions through free self-organization, have been eliminated.

Japanese health standards, normally far below those of the western nations, had deteriorated even further under wartime conditions. Considerable technical guidance and supervision were therefore necessary. During the first year alone, 5,300,000 persons were inoculated for typhus, 20,000,000 for typhoid, 78,000,000 for smallpox, and 34,500,000 for cholera. SCAP directed the Japanese government to provide for the control of venereal diseases and for the regular reporting of cases. All laws permitting licensed prostitution were abrogated. Throughout the country, six-man sanitation teams were organized for DDT dusting and spraying, repairing water and sewage systems, eliminating rodents and mosquito breeding places.

Pre-war Japan was the source of most of the world's illicit narcotics. With the advent of the occupation forces, all finished, crude, and semi-crude narcotics were confiscated. Manufacture of narcotics has been forbidden. Legitimate distribution through licensed agencies is rigidly regulated, and enforcement agencies have been created.

A council on medical education, composed of leading Japanese doctors and scientists, has been organized under SCAP guidance, to raise the standards of medical schools through the nation. A similar council has been established to improve dental standards. A council on nursing education and a school for teaching modern nursing techniques have been established.

A public assistance program was inaugurated at the beginning of the Occupation, to provide indigent persons with a minimum of food, clothing, shelter and medical care. By close supervision, the peak load of 3,000,000 persons receiving public assistance has been reduced to 1,700,000. In addition to the destitute, resulting from destruction of the cities, more than 6,000,000 repatriate--who returned to Japan with nothing more than the possessions they could carry on their backs--have been absorbed and rehabilitated and made self-sustaining through this program.

The Japanese educational system has been overhauled. Materials which instilled ultra-nationalism and militarism have been eliminated from the textbooks, and teachers who have been found undesirable because of ultra-nationalistic or militaristic records have been removed from their posts. Military schools have been dissolved.

A mission of 27 outstanding American educators visited Japan in 1946, and, in cooperation with SCAP officials and prominent Japanese educators, recommended a comprehensive reorganization, much of which has been initiated by the Ministry of Education. The Diet has passed new education laws which provide for a revised curriculum, for free compulsory education or the first nine years of schooling, and for the elimination of discrimination in educational opportunity. Objective history texts, devoid of the former mythology, have been written.

A new school ladder, with six years of elementary, three years of secondary, three years of upper secondary, and four years of higher education, has been established. Control of education has been removed from the national government, to a considerable degree, by the establishment of prefectural and local elected boards of education which operate through locally selected superintendents of schools. Emphasis has been placed on the in-service training of teachers. Parent-Teacher Associations, Citizens' Public Halls, forums, and other forms of adult education activity have been developed. Youth organizations are no longer under government control and are developing local leadership.

In the religious field, where Occupation policies and the Japanese constitution have guaranteed religious freedom to the Japanese people, the tie-in between religion and state has been severed, and laws restricting freedom of worship have been rescinded. State Shinto can no longer receive financial or other support from government agencies. Manifestations of militarism and ultra-nationalism through religion have been prohibited. The Emperor, early in the Occupation period, renounced his mythical divinity, together with the idea that the Japanese are the "chosen" people destined to rule world. The Japanese people, for the first time in their long history, enjoy the blessings of freedom of conscience and thought. The spiritual and cultural reorientation of Japan has received a remarkable stimulus from the Occupation, and the effect on the minds and spirits of the people has been most encouraging.

Christianity in Japan is on the upgrade with a significance far surpassing its number. There are presently some 1700 Christian missionaries in Japan, more than 1000 of whom have entered since the beginning of the Occupation. A large number of Bibles have been made available to the Japanese. Christian churches consistently draw large audiences and the demand for Christian literature and leadership is heard though the nation. Christianity, with its emphasis on the dignity of the individual and the brotherhood of man, is making an important contribution to the democratization of Japan.

After three and one-half years of Occupation, Japan has made important strides toward transformation into a nation which can take its place alongside others in the family of nations. Its model constitution serves as the beacon light for its people. In virtually every field, the ties with a feudal, ultra-nationalistic past are rapidly being severed. Guided by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General MacArthur, and under the tutelage of their constitutionally elected officials, the Japanese people--like a patient recuperating from a long illness--are being helped to walk unaided along the paths of justice, tolerance, and international understanding.

Out of the meager resources remaining to Japan at the close of the war, for the disproportionately large population in the restricted area of the four main islands of Japan, the Japanese people have the problem of early establishment of a self-sustaining economy. With the financial aid of the United States and with intensive guidance by the Occupation Forces--together with the will to work of the Japanese individual--rapid progress toward that objective is being made.

Page last updated Mon August 27th, 2007 at 15:36