Defeat and Democracy in Japan

Courtesy Reuters

THE defeat of August 1945 has rocked Japanese life and institutions to their foundations. Never in two thousand years have the Japanese people suffered such a collapse. The dislocation has been far greater than anyone could have imagined at the time of the surrender, and we are still in the midst of a revolution. No one in Japan dreamed that the surrender would lead to the proclamation of popular sovereignty and to such a change in the position of the Emperor; the one thing that the government and the majority of the people earnestly desired was to preserve the Throne intact. We expected that the ultimate form of government in Japan would be a constitutional monarchy, and yet events have made the position of the Throne very different even from that of the British Crown, which has remained serene and unaltered through the vicissitudes of the world war and social change.

Thus, as with all who take the sword, we too have perished with the sword. The life of the nation has crumbled. The traditions of Japanese civilization have been mercilessly discarded. Even the language has undergone a far-reaching modification. The people have no real confidence in themselves, and the resulting moral slackness is alarming. Witness the notorious scandals among high officials, or the recent case of cold-blooded poisoning of the whole staff of a bank by a mysterious thief, or the criminal ill-treatment and deaths of more than a hundred babies in a disreputable lying-in-hospital.


Great strides have been made, however, toward the objectives of the Potsdam Declaration -- the demilitarization and democratization of Japan. The complete destruction of the military, the abolition of state Shinto, the establishment of the new Constitution, the reconstruction of the entire system of education, the reorganization of agriculture, industry and labor have eliminated the feudalistic influences and opened the way for constructive democracy. In fairness to ourselves, and in recognition of the gigantic work accomplished by the Occupation, it should be pointed out that

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