Occupation of Japan: 1945-52

Gaetano Faillace's photo of Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Gaetano Faillace’s photo of Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1952, the Allied occupation of Japan following World War II ended.

Here are some things you may not have known about it.

Japan surrendered to end the Second Wold War on August 14, 1945. Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender on the radio the next day, marking the first time most Japanese citizens had ever heard his voice.

The occupation, which was led by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, had two main objectives: Eliminating Japan’s war potential and turning Japan into a Western-style nation allied with the United States.

The first priority was setting up a food distribution network. Most of Japan’s cities were destroyed and virtually everyone was starving, a condition that remained for several years. At the end of 1945, more than 350,000 U.S. military personnel were stationed in Japan.

Japan’s postwar constitution contained a “Peace Clause,” which is still in effect today. It banned the country from maintaining any armed forces. It also transferred sovereignty from the Emperor to the people, allowed women the right to vote and guaranteed other fundamental human rights.

From 1947 to 1949, nearly 6 million acres of land were purchased from landlords and resold at low prices to the farmers who had worked the land. The idea of a state religion was also banned, although the practice of Shinto was still allowed.

Freedom of speech was also granted, although criticism of the United States and other allied countries was prohibited. Also suppressed were news reports of any criminal acts by occupying troops.

In 1952, the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect, ending the allied occupation of most of Japan. Iwo Jima was returned to Japanese control in 1968 and Okinawa in 1972.

Following the treaty, the Japan Self-Defense Forces were formed to protect the country, and is considered an army in everything but name. The U.S. and its allies were fighting the Korean War, leaving Japan unguarded. Japan, now has the sixth largest military budget in the world.

Our question: Of Japan’s four largest islands, on which is Tokyo located?

oday is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. It’s National Heroes Day in Barbados and National Day in Sardinia.

It’s National Blueberry Pie Day, National Superhero Day and National Cubicle Day.

It’s the birthday of Oskar Schindler, who saved thousands of Jews from concentration camps during World War II. He was born in 1908; “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee was born on this date in 1926; while comedian Jay Leno turns 66 today.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1965, the top song in the U.S. was “Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders.

The No. 1 movie was “The Sound of Music,” while the novel “Herzog” by Saul Bellow topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


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