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Japan: 1945 Conflicts And Internal Politics

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Discuss the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952. What effects did the purges have on political and business leadership in Japan and to what degree did this action have on the continuity or discontinuity between pre-war and post-war elites? What actions led SCAP to "reverse" its policies from around 1948? What were the aims and goals of the occupation forces?

The occupation of Japan began in August 1945 and ended in April 1952. General MacArthur was the first Supreme Commander. The entire operation was for the most part carried out by the United States. Japan in essence lost all the territory obtained after 1894. The remnants of Japan's war machine were gone, and war crime trials were held. Approximately 500 military officers committed suicide shortly after Japan surrendered, and hundreds more were executed for committing war crimes. The Emperor was not declared a war criminal.

A new constitution went into effect in 1947: The emperor lost all political and military power, and was solely the symbol of the state. Universal suffrage was introduced and human rights were now guaranteed. Japan was also forbidden to lead a war again or to maintain an army. MacArthur also intended to break up power concentrations by dissolving the zaibatsu and other large companies, and by decentralizing the education system and the police. In a land reform, concentrations in land ownership were removed.

During the first half of the occupation, Japan's media was subject to rigid censorship of any anti-American statements and controversial topics.

The co-operation between the Japanese and the Allied powers worked relatively well. Critics began to grow when the United States acted according to self-interests in the Cold War. The United States reintroduced the persecution of the communists, stationed even more troops in Japan, and wanted Japan to establish its own self defense force despite the anti-war article in the constitution. Many aspects of the occupation's so called "reverse course" were welcomed by conservative Japanese politicians. With the peace treaty that went into effect in 1952, the occupation ended.

Discuss the significant features of post-war Japan that has lead Japan to become on of the leading industrial nations of the world. Emphasize the economic activities of the 1960's and 1970's.

After the end of World War II, Japan's economy was a disaster, and its international and economic relations were completely disrupted. Initially, imports were limited to essential food and raw materials, for the most part financed by assistance from the United States. Because of horrible domestic shortages, exports did not begin to recover until the Korean War, when the United States armed forces created boom-like conditions in indigenous industries. By 1954 economic rehabilitation and recovery were in essence complete.

During the decade of the 1960s, the monetary value of exports grew at an average annual rate faster than the average rate of all noncommunist countries. This rapid productivity growth in manufacturing industries made Japanese products more competitive in world markets. With the fixed exchange rate for yen during the decade of 1960, the chronic deficits that the nation faced in the 1950s had disappeared by the middle of the 1970s.

The 1970s brought major changes for Japan's external relations. The decade began with the end of the fixed exchange rate for yen and with a strong rise in the value of yen under a new system of floating rates. Japan also faced higher bills for imports of energy and raw materials. These new exchange rates and the rise in raw material costs meant that the excesses of the decade's beginning were lost, and large trade deficits followed in the wake of the oil price shocks of 1973 and 1979. Expanding the country's exports remained a priority in the face of raw material supply shocks, and during the decade exports continued to expand at a high annual average rate.

Throughout the majority of the postwar period, foreign investment was not a sizeable part of Japan's external economic relations. Both domestic and foreign investments were carefully controlled by government regulations, which kept the investment flows small. These controls applied to direct investment in the creation of subsidiaries under the control of a parent company, portfolio investment, and lending. Controls were motivated by the desire to prevent foreigners (mostly Americans) from gaining ownership of the economy when Japan was in a weak position after World War II. Beginning in the late 1960s, these controls were gradually loosened, and the process of deregulation accelerated and continued throughout the 1980s.

Social change affected Modern Japan as well. What factors led to the decline in the birth ratio of Japan and how did the phoneme alter Japan's post-war changes in terms of jobs, urban growth, and overall economic growth?

The social standing of the Japanese woman has altered dramatically since the end of the Second World War. Before the war, the Japanese woman was firmly embedded in a patriarchal system, taught to obey first her father, then her husband, and later her sons. The few women who worked outside the home in that pre-war period worked almost exclusively as nurses or teachers or in other professions deemed Ð''appropriate' for women.

This is not to say that any or all Japanese women might still be chained by the restriction of that pre-war system. For example, in terms of labor force participation rate of women, the ratio of women working to the total female population 15 years of age and over in Japan in the mid 1980s was equivalent to that of any other industrialized nation. The factors responsible for the increase in the female work force in Japan are the same as in the other major industrialized nations.

The decade of Japan's economic 'miracle', the 1960's, was indicated by a new wave in the Japanese women's movement, which was deeply entrenched, in the structural changes of the society at the time. It could be said that the Japanese women's movement occurred soon after Japan had completed its modernization, as an inevitable side effect to progress.

Japanese society had been Ð''progressing' through the process of gradual modernization since the Meiji restoration, this process accelerated rapidly during 1960's, because it was the decade when Japan emerged miraculously successful in their economy. For example, the urbanization of the population passed the halfway mark, the number of nuclear families increased to 60% of all households and the average number of family members dropped from five to three. After the economic Ð''miracle' period in the 1960's



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