The Japanese expected a cruel and harsh occupation but found a benevolent one. They feared vindictive rule but found a constructive one.” To what extent do you agree with this statement about the United States occupation of Japan after the Second World War?
At the end of World War II, Japan was occupied by the Allied Powers, led by the United States with contributions also from Australia, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This foreign presence marked the first time in its history that the island nation had been occupied by a foreign power. The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951, marked the end of the Allied occupation, and subsequent to its coming into force on April 28, 1952, Japan was once again an independent country.
Historians are also divided on the extent to which the fundamental aspects of Japanese society changed, and the degree to which change would have occurred naturally without a period of foreign occupation. The U.S. had a "sense of urgency that the country should not only be 'democratized' to prevent the reemergence of militarism, but simultaneously immunized against a rising tide of communist influence" (Dower 1999, 75). Since the U.S. completely dominated the Allied Occupation, the democratic transformation had its foundation on the American model.
The American government believed that establishing democracy in Japan involved change in all areas of Japanese life. In 1946, the Diet ratified a new Constitution of Japan that followed closely a 'model copy' prepared by the GHQ/SCAP (namely the organization headed by Gen. MacArthur that was responsible for conducting the Occupation), and was promulgated as an amendment to the old Prussian-style Meiji Constitution. "The political project drew much of its inspiration from the US Bill of Rights, New Deal social legislation, the liberal constitutions of several European states and even the Soviet Union. It transferred sovereignty from the Emperor to the people in an attempt...