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How successful was US policy with regard to Japan in the period 1945-71?

How successful was US policy with regard to Japan in the period 1945-71?

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lindsay McKee. Originally submitted for Modern History , with lecturer Fintan Hoey in the category of Historical Studies & Archaeology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lindsay McKee. Originally submitted for Modern History , with lecturer Fintan Hoey in the category of Historical Studies & Archaeology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
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AbstractHow successful was US policy with regard to Japan in the period 1945-71?
For much of the twentieth century, Japan remained closely tied to the United States. Recentanalyses by historians have varied widely over how far Japan can be described as a client stateduring this period, or whether it retained its own distinct ideals. Undoubtedly, Japan became heavilydependent upon the US nuclear umbrella for their defence, as a wave of post-war pacifism pervadedJapanese society. Equally important to Japan were the prime export markets which the UnitedStates provided to Japan to help expand her growing economy. However, the flow of benefits for the alliance was not one way. Arguably, Japan and the United States had a symbiotic relationship,with one nation gaining economic and military support, and the other gaining a vital Cold War allyin the Asian theatre. This essay examines the nuances of American policy toward Japan from theoccupation until the 'Nixon shocks' of 1971. To examine this period, research was carried out acrossa large array of secondary literature, but also most importantly across primary sources from themultiple volumes of the 'Foreign Relations of the United States' collection. Throughout, the essayrises above the traditional client state versus independent ally debate, and rather seeks to directlyassess how far American policy throughout the period met their objectives.1
How successful was US policy with regard to Japan in the period 1945-71?
On the afternoon of the 30
August 1945, a group of American cargo planes, originating fromManila, flew in formation across the Japanese coast, over the city of Kamakura and landed at thecity of Atsugi.
On board one of the aircraft was U.S General Douglas MacArthur, appointed asSupreme Commander for the Allied Powers to oversee the occupation of Japan, as PresidentTruman wished to see an American as 'top dog commander over Hirohito'.
MacArthur disembarkedand met with General Eichelberger. When the two men met, MacArthur was rumored to haveuttered 'Bob, this is the pay off'.
So began the American occupation of Japan, and the complexnature of U.S-Japanese relations for the following decades. How far did the Americans succeed inmoulding Japan into a dependable and successful cold war ally in the period 1945-1971? Or did theJapanese become a force they were unable to control in later years? This essay shall examine howfar the Americans succeeded in their Japanese policy between 1945 and 1971.Arguably, an initial success for the Americans was the fact that they were able to carry out theoccupation of Japan unfettered by other allied powers. American hegemony in Japanese affairs wasfar from a radical idea. It had been accepted in the Yalta agreements in February 1945 that the worldwould be divided up into certain spheres of influence, and being the dominant power in the Pacific,America would exercise the most influence over post-war Japan.
Upon beginning the occupation of Japan, the American government created a document known as the 'United States Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan'. The document stated clearly that American policy for the occupationrevolved around three core principles. These principles were the demilitarization of Japan, to prevent her from ever again threatening peace in Asia. Second was the creation of a peaceful andresponsible government in Japan, and thirdly that this government could only be based on a viable
1Buckley R.,
U.S-Japan alliance diplomacy, 1945-1990
, (Cambridge, 1992), p. 7.2 Ibid, p. 5.3 Ibid, p. 7.4 Pyle K.,
 Japan Rising: The resurgance of Japanese power and purpose
, (New York, 2007), p. 215.
and successful economy.
British, and most obviously Soviet voices, were silent within the AlliedCouncil on Japan and the Far East Commission, ensuring that the implementation and design of these policies remained an American enterprise.
American policy during the occupation itself proved to be a further success. The demilitarisation of Japan, which was crucial to American policy, was attained through a twofold strategy. This beganwith purges which began in January 1946. These purges affected close to 200,000 people by early1948 including officials, journalists, educators and businessmen who had collaborated with themilitarist state.
In early 1946, the SCAP administration drafted a new constitution for the Japanesegovernment. One of the most important sections was article IX, the anti-war clause which forbadethe right to create armed forces and the right of the state to conduct war.
This was a significantsuccess for the American government in demilitarising the country. The stripping of powers fromthe Emperor in the new constitution, also turned out to be a success. Although the Emperor held powers in the Meiji constitution, Hirohito rarely made use of these powers. Consequently, therevised position of the Emperor in Japanese society was in conformity with the Emperor's own preferences and would give credibility to the occupation policy.
 As envisioned in the 'United States Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan', Japan underwentdemocratisation not only politically but also socially. The occupation government carried out radicalland reform creating a class of small farmers and causing around 90% of agricultural land to be placed in the hands of owner cultivators in the space of a few years
The measures proved sosuccessful that they earned MacArthur the praise of Jiang Jieshi, the exiled nationalist leader of 
5 'U.S. Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan', 21 Sept 1945, Birth of the constitution of Japan, National Diet Library.(http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/shiryo/01/022_2/022_2_002r.html) (Last accessed 14
March 2012).6 Guthrie-Shimizu S., 'Japan, the United States, and the Cold War, 1945-1960', Leffler M. & Westad O. A. (eds),
TheCambridge History of the Cold War: Volume I Origins
, (Cambridge, 2009), p. 245.7 Ibid, p. 247.8 Allinson, G. D.,
The Columbia guide to modern Japanese history
, (New York, 1999), p. 234.9 Reischauer, E. O.,
The United States and Japan
, (New York, 1957), p. 260.1
The Columbia guide to modern Japanese history
, p.84.

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