In This Review

Dear General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese During the American Occupation
Dear General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese During the American Occupation
Edited by Sodei Rinjiro
Rowman & Littlefield, 2001, 308 pp
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During the U.S. occupation, ordinary Japanese citizens sent more than half a million letters to General Douglas MacArthur, expressing their admiration for him, providing policy advice, and asking for help with their personal problems. Even if he saw only a part of this correspondence, it would have inflated his already sizable ego: the letters are an astonishing and uninhibited manifestation of reverence. No defeated nation has ever treated its conqueror with such an outpouring of praise and devotion. Ordinary people wrote to thank his administration and plead that the emperor not be made a war criminal; teachers wrote about educational reforms; artists sent him their prized works; women even wrote asking him to father their babies. As historian John Dower points out in the book's foreword, it would be wrong to dismiss this phenomenon as the "herd mentality" of a people searching for another emperor to worship. Rather, the occupation's values and reforms resonated with the Japanese people, who were psychologically and culturally prepared for democracy and modernization. Hence they were genuinely appreciative of what MacArthur had done for their country.