Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Episode 183 – Lifting the Lost, Part 1

This week, we turn our attention to the US Occupation of Japan. When did Americans first start thinking seriously about taking Japan over and remaking its whole society?

Listen to the episode here.


For the Versailles Conference, see Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan.

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Takemae, Eiji. Allied Occupation of Japan.

Borton, Hugh. “Preparation for the Occupation of Japan.” Journal of Asian Studies 25, No. 2 (Feb, 1966).




Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill at the Cairo Conference of 1943. The Cairo Declaration laid out some specifics regarding Japan’s future, but was maddeningly vague on details.


An outline of the future of the Japanese government produced by the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee (SWNCC). SWNCC documents would provide the groundwork for the occupation.


I have not read Hugh Borton’s biography, but I really want to. Borton was, among other things, responsible for drafting SWNCC’s policy paper recommending that Emperor Hirohito be kept in power by the Americans.


Douglass MacArthur as a young cadet at West Point, where he excelled.


MacArthur returning to the Philippines in 1944 — he made sure a camera crew was on hand to record his return. Note the trademark hat and aviator sunglasses, very much a part of MacArthur’s look.


Episode 182 – Building Better Worlds


Episode 184 – Lifting the Lost, Part 2


  1. John

    hey, umm great episode. just wanted to comment on your passing mention of a Philippine insurrection. Over here we kinda view it as a continuation of our revolution against Spain and look at it more as a Philippine-American War. Again, great episode though.

  2. Squidpuppy

    Post punk band from Scotland… I see what you did there LOL

    When I took my History degree, mostly in Asian History, the narrative of the occupation of Japan was still substantially “old school” – meaning, colored by the Post-WW2 American exceptionalism filter. What would you recommend as a more modern examination? Along the lines of “The China Mirage…” by J Bradley. I was reminded of this book by your references to “China Hands” and self-proclaimed Asia experts.

    What do you think of “In The Ruins of Empire…” by RH Spector?

  3. Jason

    You left off the blackest mark of MacArthur’s career: his suppression of the Bonus Army in 1932. Despite being army chief of staff he personally led soldiers and used brutal horse cavalry, tear gas, and tanks to attack the demonstrators. Eisenhower (allegedly) said “I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there.”

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