Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Occupation

Episode 230 – The Measure of an Emperor, Part 5

How does a man raised to be a military autocrat become a democratic emperor in just a few short years? Or is that even possible?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Bix, Herbert. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan.

Wetzler, Peter. Hirohito and War: Imperial Tradition and Military Decision Making in World War II Japan.

Large, Stephen. Emperor Hirohito and Showa Japan: A Political Biography.

Miller, Ian Jared. The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo. 

The Shirayuki War Bond advertisement, from Time in June, 1945.

Images and Video

All media on the US Occupation must by law have this picture of Hirohito and MacArthur from late 1945, in which the emperor is literally and figuratively overshadowed by the bombastic American.

Hirohito atop Shirayuki. Preventing William Halsey from riding his horse was Hirohito’s one solid win during the Occupation.

Hirohito did not support the new constitution stripping so much of his power, but felt that he had little choice but to publicly endorse it — as he is doing here in 1947 before the Imperial Diet.

Hirohito on tour (location unknown), 1946.

Hirohito tours Yokohama, 1946.

Episode 191 – Lifting the Lost, Part 9

This week: what, in the end, did the Occupation mean — for both the occupied and the occupier?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Dr. Dower’s editorial on the Japan-Iraq comparison.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images

Pro-MacArthur Demonstration in New York, 1951

Truman’s decision to fire Douglas MacArthur was not only unpopular in Japan but in the US as well; it contributed to a plummeting approval rating and to Truman’s ultimate decision not to attempt a run for a second, complete term.

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The early days of the National Police Reserve, which eventually became the modern Japan Self-Defense Forces.

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Yoshida Shigeru signs the 1951 San Francisco Treaty, which went into effect the following year.

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Kishi plays golf with President Eisenhower.

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Kishi at the Yankees game.

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In an ironic twist, Japan was also caught up in America’s newest attempts at nation-building; JSDF personnel were deployed outside of combat zones to assist in reconstruction efforts.

Episode 190 – Lifting the Lost, Part 8

This week: what was it like to live through the Occupation? How did people get by? And why is Kurosawa Akira objectively the greatest director ever?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat. 

Mansfield, Stephen. Tokyo: A Cultural and Literary History.

This fantastic exploration of nutrition in Occupation Japan.

Sakamoto, Rumi. “Pan Pan Girls: Humiliating Liberation in Postwar Japanese Literature.” Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies 7, No. 2 (2010).

Images

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Women who were willing (or just interested) in relationships with Americans could obtain access to unimaginable luxuries for most of the population, like good ol’ Hershey’s chocolate.

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Hayashi Tadahiko’s 1949 photograph “Street Children at Ueno.”

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Mori Mitsuko, whose performances I am sure Allied troops enjoyed for their technical accomplishments.

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Professor Itokawa and Yukie in No Regrets for Our Youth (1946).

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Mifune Toshiro in Drunken Angel (1948).

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Ozu Yasujiro was a pretty strange director, but has a dedicated following among fancy film types who refuse to simply admit that Kurosawa is simply better.

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One outpost of the Recreation and Amusement Association (RAA), essentially a Japanese government-run prostitution service for American service personnel.

 

Episode 189 – Lifting the Lost, Part 7

This week: the social reforms of the Occupation. Economic policy, education policy: it’s like our very own C-SPAN screening!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Geldon, Sharon. Molding Japanese Minds.

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising

Images

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An American education mission studies Japanese schools in order to suggest reforms, c. 1946.

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Rice paddies like this one were the primary form of subsistence for tenant farmers who, before the Occupation, were trapped in the lower class due to their renter status.

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A shipment of Japanese silk headed for market in America. Japanese goods were cheap for Americans to buy thanks to the fixed 360 yen: 1 dollar exchange rate.

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During the Meiji period, textiles had been a major source of revenue for Japan. Synthetic fabrics like nylon, being produced here in Tokyo, provided a chance for textiles to once again be the backbone of an economic revival.

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SCAP kept up its image in the states by publishing bulletins describing its advances in reforms.

Episode 188 – Lifting the Lost, Part 6

This week, we talk about what it took to make a peace on paper a peace in fact. With millions of Japanese civilians and soldiers scattered across Asia, what would it take to get them all home again?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Barshay, Andrew. The Gods Left First. 

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat. 

Spector, Ronald. In the Ruins of Empire/

Images

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Japanese POWs debarking at Yokosuka. After a brief “de-orientation” period they were released into the public.

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Japanese POWs in Siberia. The Soviets proved easily the most brutal of potential captors for the Japanese.

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Repatriation proved difficult for children in particular. Some families were forced to leave them behind in order to escape; others, like this girl, were separated from their families in the chaos or were the only ones to make it to a port.

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Japanese troops preparing to board ships headed from China to Japan. The white box carried by the man in front holds the ashes of one of his comrades.

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Ahiko Tetsuro circa 2011.

Episode 185 – Lifting the Lost, Part 3

This week: where did Japan’s constitution come from, and how the hell did it get done in only six days?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Takemae, Eiji. Allied Occupation of Japan.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Images

Episode 184 – Lifting the Lost, Part 2

The Occupation begins! This week, we’ll set the stage with a focus on the relationship between Supreme Commander Douglass MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Takemae, Eiji. Allied Occupation of Japan.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Images

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Female munitions workers in a Japanese factory listen to the emperor’s announcement of surrender. The formal, classical Japanese used for imperial pronouncements meant that those without higher education could actually understand very little of the speech, but the meaning was still clear.

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Ruth Benedict’s study was, on the one hand, groundbreaking in trying to actively avoid dealing in stereotypes. On the other, there was still plenty of generalization in the mix.

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The Daiichi Insurance Building c. 1946. Note the flag on top.

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Hirohito and MacArthur took this photo after their meeting. Intended to convey friendly cooperation, the Emperor’s household requested that it be pulled from circulation because of how small and unimpressive the emperor looked next to the confident MacArthur.

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The official copy of the Imperial New Years Rescript of 1946, in which the emperor denied his divinity (or not, if you believe John Dower).

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.

Sources

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).

Images

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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 19 – Rising from the Ashes

This week, we’re going to discuss the postwar strategy that enabled Japan to revive itself after World War II. In 1952, most observers believed Japan would become a mid-rank regional power on the same order as Sweden; by 1970 it was clear that would not be the case. We’re going to discuss how Japan was able to rebound from defeat so quickly, and what forces propelled the massive growth of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Anchordoguy, Marie. Reprogramming Japan.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Okita Saburo, the economist who, in 1945, articulated a vision for Japan revived as an economic power. Okita was the youngest of the men who would lead postwar Japan (he was born in 1914) and lived until 1993, just long enough to see his system begin to falter.

Okita Saburo, the economist who, in 1945, articulated a vision for Japan revived as an economic power. Okita was the youngest of the men who would lead postwar Japan (he was born in 1914) and lived until 1993, just long enough to see his system begin to falter.

Yoshida Shigeru, the ex-diplomat turned Prime Minister who would lead the group dedicated to putting Okita Saburo's vision into place.

Yoshida Shigeru, the ex-diplomat turned Prime Minister who would lead the group dedicated to putting Okita Saburo’s vision into place.

Socialist and other left-wing protestors riot outside the Diet building in downtown Tokyo against the renewal of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty in 1960. The LDP faction in power had to bring in police and yakuza to prevent the crowds from halting the passage of the renewed treaty.

Socialist and other left-wing protestors riot outside the Diet building in downtown Tokyo against the renewal of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty in 1960. The LDP faction in power had to bring in police and yakuza to prevent the crowds from halting the passage of the renewed treaty.

The Speaker of the Lower House of the Diet performing the final tally of votes regarding the security treaty. He had to be physically escorted to the stage and protected from left-wing Diet members, who attempted to prevent him from finishing the procedures required to pass the treaty.

The Speaker of the Lower House of the Diet performing the final tally of votes regarding the security treaty. He had to be physically escorted to the stage and protected from left-wing Diet members, who attempted to prevent him from finishing the procedures required to pass the treaty.

The lighting of the cauldron at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. We didn't really have time to talk about it on the show, but the 1964 Olympics became a symbol of Japanese revival after the war, as they took place right when Ikeda Hayato's Income Doubling Plan was beginning to seriously jumpstart the national economy.

The lighting of the cauldron at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. We didn’t really have time to talk about it on the show, but the 1964 Olympics became a symbol of Japanese revival after the war, as they took place right when Ikeda Hayato’s Income Doubling Plan was beginning to seriously jumpstart the national economy.

Ikeda Hayato, the famously-abrasive bureaucrat and politician (PM 1960-1964). Ikeda is often credited with reaching out to the Japanese people and forging a consensus that the best way forward for the country was to focus all its resources on economic growth. His Income Doubling Plan was an ambitious (and ultimately successful) bid to massively stimulate the Japanese economy along the lines proposed by Okita Saburo and Yoshida Shigeru.

Ikeda Hayato, the famously-abrasive bureaucrat and politician (PM 1960-1964). Ikeda is often credited with reaching out to the Japanese people and forging a consensus that the best way forward for the country was to focus all its resources on economic growth. His Income Doubling Plan was an ambitious (and ultimately successful) bid to massively stimulate the Japanese economy along the lines proposed by Okita Saburo and Yoshida Shigeru.

Sato Eisaku, Prime Minister 1964-1972 (the longest-serving in Japanese history). Sato was the last of the Yoshida "honor students," and continued to carry forth his mentor's legacy.

Sato Eisaku, Prime Minister 1964-1972 (the longest-serving in Japanese history). Sato was the last of the Yoshida “honor students,” and continued to carry forth his mentor’s legacy.

Episode 18 – Enduring the Unendurable

This week’s episode is an overview of the Allied Occupation of Japan. In just seven years (1945-1952), the Allies undertook a massive effort to overhaul Japan’s politics, economy, and society. We’ll discuss the ways in which they tried to do so, and briefly attempt to evaluate their success. This was a really interesting episode to write and record — I learned a lot myself!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

A newsreel from 1946 showing the devastation of Japan proper and the beginnings of recovery.

MacArthur and Emperor Showa, early in the Occupation. This photo, with Hirohito dwarfed by MacArthur, became one of the symbols of the Occupation and of the new reality of American dominance.

MacArthur and Emperor Showa, early in the Occupation. This photo, with Hirohito dwarfed by MacArthur, became one of the symbols of the Occupation and of the new reality of American dominance.

The Ichigaya Building, former home of the Imperial Army and location of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo War Crimes Trials).

The Ichigaya Building, former home of the Imperial Army and location of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo War Crimes Trials).

Tojo Hideki, center, as a defendant in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials.

Tojo Hideki, center, as a defendant in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials.

The Justices of the Tokyo Trials.

The Justices of the Tokyo Trials.

Members of the Japanese Communist Party being released from prison after the end of the war. Their elation would be short-lived, as by 1947 the Occupation government began clamping down on Marxist groups.

Members of the Japanese Communist Party being released from prison after the end of the war. Their elation would be short-lived, as by 1947 the Occupation government began clamping down on Marxist groups.

South Korean refugees fleeing during the early months of the Korean War. The war provided part of the impetus for termination of the Occupation, both because of the need for American troops on the peninsula and because Allied procurement contracts with Japan revitalized the Japanese economy.

South Korean refugees fleeing during the early months of the Korean War. The war provided part of the impetus for termination of the Occupation, both because of the need for American troops on the peninsula and because Allied procurement contracts with Japan revitalized the Japanese economy.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru signs the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952, formally ending World War II as well as the Occupation.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru signs the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952, formally ending World War II as well as the Occupation.

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