Courtesy Reuters

Trial Balance in Japan

THERE are many signs of the disappearance of the feudal militaristic régime in Japan and the emergence of a new order of liberal democracy -- a strange and startling manifestation in the east. How real is the change which the signs proclaim, and how lasting will it be? No one knows. But the Occupation has lasted now for three full years, and the time has come to strike a trial balance of its accomplishments and to interpret some of the clues which indicate the reaction of the Japanese people to the efforts to fashion a democratic, middle-class, peaceful Japan. For the course ahead must now be plotted in some detail.

The aims of the Allied Powers were to destroy entirely the military power and potential of Japan, to weaken the institutions that might nurture militarism, and, if possible, to create institutions and attitudes that would prevent its revival. The Potsdam Proclamation stated the objectives in almost deceptively simple terms: "The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established."

The aims were spelled out in the "United States Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan," sent to General MacArthur on August 29, 1945 (announced September 22, 1945). This document, the first major directive to him as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), called for a thorough military, economic and spiritual demilitarization of Japan. Not only was the country to be physically disarmed, but "Institutions expressive of the spirit of militarism and aggression will be vigorously suppressed." To this end, "Encouragement shall be given and favor shown to the development of organizations in labor, industry, and agriculture, organized on a democratic basis. Policies shall be favored which permit a wide distribution of income and of the ownership of the means of production and trade." This in turn called for a recommendation significantly affecting the future economic development

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