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Japan, occupation of (1945–52)

Subject History

Place Eastern Asia » Japan

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


After its surrender at the end of the Second World War Japan was ruled by foreigners for the first time in its history. SCAP (Supreme Commander Allied Powers) lacked trained personnel to govern Japan, so General macarthur (General Ridgway from April 1951) used Japanese governments and the existing civil service to carry out his decisions. He was ordered to break up the armed forces (five million troops were demobilized) and carry out punitive measures: hold war crimes trials, purge (force into retirement) civilians who had worked with the military regime and dissolve the zaibatsu (industrial combines). A total of 28 people (including 14 generals and 3 admirals) were indicted as Class A war criminals in Tokyo trials (1946–8). Seven (including Tojo Hideki, a wartime Prime Minister and general) were executed, others being imprisoned. Several Allied leaders had wanted Emperor hirohito to be tried as a war criminal but MacArthur decided against this. Trials took place elsewhere in Japan and Southeast Asia, as a result of which 4,000 were convicted and 920 executed. Some 200,000 civilians were purged and a further 200,000 banned from holding positions in the public sector. The zaibatsu were targeted for dissolution, as an alliance of big business and the military was held to be responsible for Japanese aggression in the 1930s and 1940s. An Anti-Monopoly Law was passed in 1947. SCAP ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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