Why Did Japan Change So Much During the US Occupation
The underlying factors include the fact that it was Japan’s first military occupation by foreigners (Takemae and Ricketts xxvi). Additionally, the devastation suffered during the Second World War which left Japan vulnerable so that cooperation with the foreigners was not a problem, the approach was taken by the US to restructuring Japan’s post-war constitution and military (Dower 199, 24).The US occupation of Japan provided a unique opportunity for the US to influence political and social change in a country that was weakened “both psychologically and physically” (Scalapino 1976, 104). Both of these traits, Japan’s defeat and the US opportunity to influence political and social change, would provide the basic and underlying reasons for why the US occupation of Japan would bring about so much change during the former’s occupation. To begin with, when US troops occupied Japan in August 1945, the country was in ruins, particularly in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Japanese leaders were in a state of shock and the population fearful of what the “victors” might put them through (Schonberger 1989, 1). The Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General MacArthur was prepared to reconstruct what was characterized as “an ancient and highly sophisticated society” with a population of eighty million people (Schonberger 1989, 1).A political and socio-economic thought in Japan preceding the Second World War would operate in conjunction with the post-war devastation that the US met upon occupying Japan. Japan’s modern state which evolved during the Meiji era from 1868 was a “state political project” aimed at the modernization and Westernization of Japan (Shibata 2005, 2). On another level, the War itself resulted in a climate between the US and Japan where each side demonized the other. For the Japanese, the US represented “white supremacy” and were put together with the British perceivedas “demonic and beastly” Anglo-Saxons”.