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After the war
     Postwar occupations

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Postwar occupations

A delay of some three weeks separates the Japanese surrender from its formal acceptance by General MacArthur on 2 September 1945 in a ceremony in Tokyo Bay on board the US battleship Missouri. In the interim the Allies have already celebrated victory in Japan with V-J Day, on August 15, as the equivalent of V-E Day three months earlier.

The intervening weeks are a practical necessity in preparing the Japanese people to accept the disaster which has befallen them. Their traditional faith in the god-like invincibility of their emperor has first to be disabused. When Hirohito himself speaks on radio to explain the situation, and to say that defeat must be accepted, it is a shock to many to discover that the emperor has an ordinary human voice. They must also accept the fact that after defeat comes foreign occupation.


The government of occupied Japan is placed in the hands of Douglas MacArthur. Although in name an Allied undertaking, the occupation is in fact an almost entirely US concern. MacArthur's first task is to complete the demilitarization of the country, followed by the introduction of democratic institutions to replace imperial rule.

By 1950, with the Korean war under way and Mao Ze Dong in control in China, the emphasis changes. By now the most important requirement seems to be building up Japan as a bulwark against Communism. An independent, democratic, capitalist Japan emerges with the end of the Allied occupation in 1952.


This History is as yet incomplete.


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