IBDP Internal Assessments and Extended Essays on Japan

To what extent did Japanese forces deliberately instigate the Marco Polo Bridge Incident?
IBDP Internal Assessment

Plan of Investigation

To what extent did Japanese forces deliberately instigate the Marco Polo Bridge Incident?

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident took place July 7th, 1937. Japanese and Chinese scholars hold diametrically opposing views of what actually occurred throughout the course of the incident; the one fact most agree on is that it became the cassus belli of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. From the Mukden Incident of 1931, tensions between Japan and China escalated and this latest Incident served as “the trigger for the Sino-Japanese War.” Analysis of contemporary Japanese, Chinese and Western historians’ books, study of the memoirs and statements made by actual combatants and participants on both sides, and a personal interview with a very knowledgeable Chinese scholar is hoped to disclose Marco Polo Bridge Incident’s course of the event, focusing on its causes, the mysteries around the “first shot” and the so called “lost soldier”, and the subsequent events following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

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Summary of Evidence

To determine the extent to which the Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a deliberate act of Japanese aggression or an unfortunate series of misunderstandings, one must understand both the preceding events and the course of the events itself.

Preceding Events:

China in the 1930s was tumultuous due to the Civil War between Nationalists and Communists. During the Central Plains War, Japan fabricated the Mukden Incident and set up Manchukuo in Manchuria. Between February and May of 1933, the Kwantung Army began its offensive in Rehe Province and signing the Tanggu Truce on May 31st, recognising Rehe Province as part of Manchukuo. In June of 1935, the He-Umezu Agreement was signed, forcing the Nationalist government to leave Hebei Province, allowing Japanese troops to control areas around Beiping, (situated in Hebei Province). In June that same year, 6000 additional soldiers were stationed in the Hebei area adding to a total of 8400 soldiers.

The Course of Marco Polo Bridge Incident

From May 1937, Japanese troops in Fengtai conducted daily and nightly military exercises at a wasteland 1 kilometre north of Wanping Town. Foreign powers were allowed to hold military manoeuvres without informing the authorities provided they used blank ammunition. However, on July 7th Chinese troops reported to their brigade commander that Japanese troops were armed with live ammunition and their manoeuvres were different from usual; Japanese troops from the 7th and 8th Companies had stopped manoeuvres around 10:30 PM. At 10:40, Private 2nd Class Shimura was reported to be missing. A Japanese agent telephoned Jicha authorities to claim that while the 1st company was manoeuvring, shots were fired at them from the Chinese garrison in Wanping creating chaos, and they needed to enter Wanping Town to search for this lost soldier. If prevented, Japanese armed troops would enter. Chinese troops subsequently reported Japanese troops approaching Wanping Town but the Chinese officers in Wanping allowed Japanese commanders to enter the town to search unmolested. Either during or immediately after negotiations, Japanese troops began to shoot at Chinese troops situated at Marco Polo Bridge.

Negotiations resumed after fighting came to a halt at 9 AM on the 8th, but broke down shortly afterwards. A stalemate continued until Japanese infantry reinforcement arrived around 3:00 PM and captured the bridge. Negotiations offered by the Japanese with the demand that Chinese troops retreat from the Left Shore were rejected. . Fighting ensued, and the Chinese re-captured the bridge at 9AM on the 9th.

By the 10th, Japanese troops severed all routes connecting Wanping to Beiping and Japanese reinforcements, including heavy artillery, planes, and tanks, were transported to the area. On that day, the Japanese chief of staff listed 4 requirements for Chinese troops to prevent further fighting:

Apologise to the Japanese Armies and punish those responsible.

Take action against those who initiated the incident.

Chinese troops around Marco Polo Bridge should be removed.

Ban all Communist and anti-Japanese Organizations.

On July 11th, General Zhang signed the agreement with Colonel Matsui. That same day, the Konoe Cabinet sent three divisions to Northern China. The Nationalist government still attempted to negotiate through 3rd parties. Chiang made a speech on the 17th providing 4 solutions to the problem and decided not to declare war. On the 19th, General Zhang agreed to a similar agreement. After taking over Marco Polo Bridge after a fierce battle erupted on the 21st, Japan launched an attack on Beijing, capturing it on July 27th. Chiang realized that war was unavoidable and resistance officially began. Within a month the Chinese General Headquarters declared a general mobilization.

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Evaluation of Sources:

Interview on December 25th, 2007 with Luo Cunkang, Manager of Research Department at Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression,

Luo Cunkang is one of the spokesman for the only official comprehensive memorial for the “Resistance against Japanese Aggression” in China” , and his role for the interview, as I was referred to him by other museum directors, is to promote the core ethos of the Hall and to provide a general Chinese scholar’s standpoint on this incident, a topic he specializes. His exhaustive knowledge of the incident is due both to his studies and to his numerous encounters with soldiers or relatives of soldiers present at the incident and with other Chinese scholars. He had numerous meetings with Japanese scholars and was very respectful towards Japanese views. He spoke about the incident itself and also discussed its significance in the context of 20th Century Asia. It must be said that he, being a manager in the museum, is a representative for the memorial so it could be suggested he is limited in expressing his own opinions, and doubts regarding the event, and has to be careful with usage of words since it needs to follow the purpose of the museum.

Sankichi Yasui, Marco Polo Bridge Incident (Hong Kong, Kehua Publisher, 1999)

Professor Yasui Sankichi of Kobe University wrote this book for a Japanese audience to present the Marco Polo Bridge Incident as objectively and factually as possible. He was the head of the Japanese China Modern History Research Centre. Published in Hong Kong, the book was translated and directly published without deletion of content. Some errors present in the Japanese edition, published in 1993, were amended for this translation edition, published in 1999, due to newly available information and research. It is dedicated to describing the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and his opinions are based on the numerous quotes from Japanese soldiers and officers present at the Incident , not found in most Chinese books. Thus many valuable insights describing minutia of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident are offered, leading the author to state how “some of my perspectives differ from orthodox Chinese perspectives that may make Chinese readers feel uneasy.” Nevertheless it has been criticized stating that whilst the Sino-Japanese War was a war resulting from Japanese invasion, the cause of the Incident itself was an accident.

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The Marco Polo Bridge Incident has been regarded as the catalyst for the 8 year Sino-Japanese War and can possibly even be considered the opening of World War II.

Furthermore it was significant in uniting the Chinese people because it was the start of China’s resistance. Chiang Kai-Shek attempted to preserve peace but ultimately recognized the inevitability of war. This incident instigated Chinese citizens to fight against the Japanese invasion.

Although it occurred half a century ago, scholars around the world still have not agreed upon who initiated the incident. Some scholars like Professor Nakumura Akita, Historian Masanori Ito , and Higashinakano Shudo blame Communists for purposely instigating the incident to create chaos between the Nationalists and the Japanese. On the other hand, Orthodox historians like Surugadai University professor Inoue Hisashi, Taiwanese scholar Yunhan Li , and Chinese scholar Sibai Sun claim Japan initiated the incident as a pretext for a full-scale invasion. They state that the Japanese army already fabricated a series of events to reach the surroundings of Beiping, and the Incident was merely a continuation of Japan’s expansion and so the incident of the “lost soldier” was fictitious. Other scholars and historians like Yasui Sankichi and Hattori Takushiro say the initial cause of the incident was completely accidental.

The “first shot” and the “lost soldier” have been the primary sources of controversy. The Chinese claimed that the Japanese fired the first shot when both sides were negotiating after Colonel Matsui demanded to enter Wanping. Japanese troops claimed that the Chinese fired the first shot around 10:40 when they were manoeuvring west of Marco Polo Bridge. The significance of the “first shot” is that it resulted in a soldier getting lost. The key instigator of the incident rests in the “lost soldier.”

The matter of the lost soldier (2nd Class Private Shimura) is a different story. The Chinese, by all accounts, stated that the Japanese demanded to enter Wanping town to find the lost soldier.

Most Chinese scholars and some Japanese scholars believe that this soldier was discovered to be “lost” at around 10:40 and was reported to the Captain. It can be concluded that Shimura was discovered long before Japanese officials informed Jicha authorities to discuss the issue of the lost soldier. Some Japanese writers question whether Colonel Matsui used the lost soldier as a reason to enter Wanping Town. Scholars like Professor Hata and Professor Nakamura Akira stated that General Jin’s allegation that Colonel Matsui demanded to enter the town due to the lost soldier is false. However, despite the fact that soldiers’ memoirs omitted this event, this incident was announced in 1938’s official symposium, and telegrams sent between Chinese officials show that his disappearance was indeed a reason for Japanese officials to enter the town.

The “first shot” and the “lost soldier” were occasional incidents in themselves and they were not orchestrated, but Company Commander Shimizu Setsuro’s demand of Chinese troops to retreat from Marco Polo Bridge or otherwise be attacked was a very provocative move that lead to conflict. Author Iris Chang stated this move was provoking a full-scale war with China. He, along with Japanese troops, exploited these accidents and Konoe cabinet’s decision to send another 3 divisions within days also demonstrates Japan’s ambitions to expand since it also follows, as argued by as Dexin Cai. However, scholars like Shougang Zhang and Shengze Zhang argue that both governments attempted to avoid war to some levels but due their national policies, they had no choice to fight or else be considered a weakling so it ultimately resulted in an all-out war.

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The first shot starting the Marco Polo Bridge Incident continues to be debated amongst scholars. To this day the war is a major point of contention between China and Japan and remains a major roadblock for Sino-Japanese relations. Wading through the nationalism and ideology that pervades such discussion both sides of the sea of Japan is a minefield and, based on past Japanese actions in Manchuria and the available evidence, it appears that the Japanese troops purposely used the excuse of the lost soldier to attack and occupy Wanping. It can be concluded the Konoe Cabinet, through the deployment of more troops in the days after the Incident, used the opportunity to expand their Manchukuo territories and exploited the originally small event to achieve their aims. The Chinese government, after impassively responding to Japanese interests for the past 8 years, decided finally to defend rather than submit. Both resulted in this minor incident quickly escalating into full-scale war. It can be assumed that even if the Incident did not take place, another minor event would have instigated the war. Tensions were stored already due to series of similar incidents and the Marco Polo Bridge Incident became the trigger.

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List of Sources


Dong, Linyi, “Why is it that the LuGou Bridge Incident became the beginning of the wars all over the country? Shandong Normal University Newspaper, 4th Edition, 1987.  “From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor, Who was responsible?” ASIAN PERSPECTIVE, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2007.  Books  Akira, Nakamura. The road to the Greater East Asian War. Tokyo: Tendensha, 1990.  Benson, John, and Takao Matsumura. Japan 1865-1945: From isolation to occupation. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2001.  Brower, Daniel R. The World in the 20th Century-The Age of Global War and Revolution. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1992.  Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.  CPC Central Committee Party School Communist Party Historical Archives Center, The LuGou Bridge Incident and Beijing and Tianjing Anti-Japanese War. Beijing: CPC Central Committee Party School Research, Office 1986.  Ferguson, Niall. The War of the Worlds. London: Penguin Books, 2007.  Harries, Meirion, and Susan Harries. Soldiers of the Sun: the Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army. New York: Random House, 1991.  Hattori, Takushiro. The Complete History of the Greater East Asia War (1). Yuxiang Zhang, Trans, Hong Kong: The Commercial Press, 1984.  Hunter, Alan. Peace Studies in the Chinese Century. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2006.  Li, Yunhan. Marco Polo Bridge Incident. Taiwan Dongdatushu Company, 1987.  Liu, Dejun. Research works about Anti-Japanese war, Jinan: Jilu Book Publisher. 2005.  Liu, Yifei. The records of Incident of LuGou Bridge blooded War ---7.7 Incident. Beijing: Tuan Jie Publishers, 1994  McClain, James L. A Modern History, Japan. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.  New History Textbook 2005 version. Fushosha, 49  Qu, Jiayuan, and Zhaoqin Bai, History about LuGou Bridge Incident, Beijing: Beijing Publishers, 1997.  Rhoads, Murphey, A History of Asia. Lin Huang, trans, Beijing, Hainian Publisher, 2005.  Roberts, J. M. The Penguin History of the Twentieth Century, London: Penguin Group, 1999.  Sankichi, Yasui. Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Guifang Shi and Xutian Wang, trans. Hong Kong: Kehua Chuban Corporation, 1999.  Shudo, Higashinakano. The Nanking Massacre: Fact versus Fiction: A Historian's Quest for the Truth, Sekai Shuppan, Inc, 2005.  Takushiro, Hattori. Great East Asia War History (1). Shangwu Yinshua Guan.  Wu, Yuexing, Zhibo Lin, Hua Lin, and Youyu Liu. Stories of LuGou Bridge Incident. Beijing: Beijing People’s University Publisher, 1987.  Yang, Qing, and Yang Wang. Articles about the Anti-Japanese War during recent 10 years. Beijing: Zhong Gong Dang Shi Chu, 2005.  Zhang, Chunxiang. The Incident of LuGou Bridge and eight-year Anti-Japanese War, Beijing: Beijing Chu Ban She, 1990.  CD-Rom  Encarta 2005 Reference Library. CD-ROM. Microsoft, 2004  Interview  Luo, Cunkang, personal interview, December 25th, 2007.  Magazine  Tucker-Jones, Anthony. “Clash of the Titans.” Military Illustrated Feb 2008: 9.
Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression Pamphlet, English Edition.


The records of Anti-Japanese War, Dir Xiaochun You, VCD, Tianjin Taida Audio&Video Distribution Co, 25 July 2007.
Anti-Japanese War, Dir. Ermao Huang, VCD, Guangdong Youlin Audio& Video Distribution Co, 2002.
Why We Fight World War II – The Complete Series, Dir. Frank Capra, DVD, Good Times Video, 1943.


“International Sino-Japanese Conference”, 12 February 2008, http://chinajapan.org/articles/10.2/10.2news2-7.pdf
People’s Republic of China Japanese History Editorial Board, 15 Feb, 2008. http://www.chinarshgb.cn/htm/xxjg.html
Qi, Xiaojing, “Japanese Historian stated the Marco Polo Bridge Incident is an inevitable outcome of Japanese’s policy of expansionism and invasion”, October 2007, February 10th, 2008, http://2006.chinataiwan.org/web/webportal/W5272501/Uqxjing/A514011.html,
(http://www.ne.jp/asahi/kyokasho/net21/e_yukou_seimei20001205.htm#++++) 8 February, 2008.

A. Plan of Investigation

Are the Japanese to blame for instigating the Marco Polo Bridge Incident?

The Marco Polo bridge incident occurred on the 7th of July 1937 yet it is still unclear to this day as to who caused this incident. In order to create an objective view on the circumstances of the incident, Japanese and Chinese viewpoints will be taken into account when deciding whether or not Japan is to blame for the incident. These viewpoints will be coming from Pulitzer Prize winning books and Japanese and Chinese sources. Both Japanese and Chinese journalists and army members have clear different views on to who is to blame for this event. Although with rising tensions between China and Japan due to the recent Mukden incident of 1931 both standpoints are needed to determine whether or not Japan is solely to blame for instigating the Marco Polo bridge incident.

B. Summary of Evidence

The Incident:
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred on the 7th of July 1937. The incident was caused by a conflict between Japanese and Chinese Army troops in the small walled town of Wanping, southwest of Beiping (Beijing)[1]. Starting June 1937 The Japanese Imperial army was preforming military training manoeuvres every night close to the western end of the Marco Polo Bridge1. The Chinese Government complied with the Japanese army training only provided that the Japanese gave them advanced notice of these training manoeuvres, the Japanese agreed to these terms[2]. They asked for advanced notice so the Chinese inhabitants were not disturbed. However the night of the 7th of July training manoeuvres were carried out without prior notice1. This alarmed the local Chinese forces and it lead to a brief exchange of fire at approximately 11 pm. After the small conflict a Japanese soldier was reported missing from his post, which lead his company commander Major Kiyonao Ichiki to believe he had be captured by the Chinese troops. Major Kiyonao then reported this to the regimental commander colonel Renya Mutaguchi. The Chinese regimental commander Ji Xingwen received a telephone message from the Japanese wanting permission to search Wanping for their missing soldier.  The Chinese commander of the 29th Route Army General Qin Dechun received a call from Japanese military intelligence also requesting permission to enter and search Wanping[3]. Qin refused this demand due to the fact that the Japanese army had not given notice of their military training maneuvers that night3. The Chinese agreed to have the garrison of Wanping conduct a search along with a Japanese officer. As both Chinese and Japanese were preparing their investigators a Japanese infantry tried to gain access to Wanping but were fended off by Wanping’s defences3.  Around 3:30 a.m. on the 8th of July 4 Japanese reinforcements consisting of mountain guns and a group of machine gunners arrived at Wanping from the previously occupied railway junction of Fentai1. At 4:50 am the Japanese investigators were granted access to Wanping but despite that at 5 am Japanese machine gunmen proceeded to open fire on the Chinese at the Marco Polo Bridge3. Colonel Xingwen led 1000 Chinese troops to hold the bridge but the Japanese took hold of the bridge that afternoon. The Chinese were able to retake the bridge the morning of the 9th after taking advantage of the mist and rain of the morning3.
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C. Evaluation of Sources

Epstein, Israel. History Should Not Be Forgotten. Beijing: China Intercontinental, 2005. Print.

History Should Not Be Forgotten is a book written by a Jewish journalist born in Warsaw 1915. Israel Epstein is an internationally known journalist who moved to China in 1917. He was born at the time of Imperial Russian control over Poland and when the German army approached Warsaw Epstein and his mother fled to China. Epstein started working as a journalist in 1931 for “Peking” and “Tientsin Times”. In 1933 Epstein started working with American journalist Edgar Snow and became a correspondent for the United Press of the United States in 1937. Epstein was one of the few foreign born Chinese citizens to be a member of the Communist Party of China. After the war on Japanese aggression was over, Epstein was actively involved and reporting on activities opposing U.S. involvement in China’s internal affairs.

This source will be very vital for the investigation as it coming from a journalist who was a journalist in China during the time of the Marco Polo bridge incident. Although it is very valuable for the investigation of who was responsible for the Marco Polo incident, the source has limitations. The limitations are that the author of the book was communist and actively involved in the front against Japanese aggression, the view will be highly biased against the Japanese due to Epstein’s history.

Toland, John. The Rising Sun: The Decline and fall of the Japanese Empire. Random House, 1982. Print.

The Rising Sun: the decline and fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945 was written by John Toland who was one of the most widely read military historians of the 20th century. Toland was a Pulitzer Prize winning historian for The Rising Sun and the book is a collection of facts and interviews about the Japanese Imperial Army. Said in countless book reviews, Toland is said not to have interjected any biased or judgmental views in the telling of the events within the book. Said by the Chicago Sun-Times The Rising Sun is “similar in scope to William Shirer’s ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’” and “it also presents for the first time a great deal of fresh information”.

This book is vital to the investigation of the topic of whether or not Japan is to blame for the Marco Polo Bridge incident as it was one of the first books to tell the Japanese perspective of the conflict, instead of American or Chinese. This book uses interviews from Japanese Generals who were in the Imperial Army at the time of the Marco Polo Incident. Although said by book reviewers that Toland presents events without bias or judgement, the evidence within the book is greatly subjected to bias. As the book is telling the accounts from the Japanese perspective the views presented are in favor of Japan.

D. Analysis

The Marco Polo bridge incident was considered to be complete misunderstanding according to the British Historian Niall Fergusson. “A Japanese soldier went missing and was wrongly presumed to have been kidnapped (he was actually relieving himself)”. However both accounts are told, both Chinese and Japanese are blamed to have instigated the incident. The investigation of this incident is critical in its historical context as the Marco Polo Incident is said to have started the Chinese war against Japanese aggression (the second Sino-Japanese war)[[4]][[5]]. It is also speculated by Niall Fergusson that it was not only the started of second Sino-Japanese war but the start of WWII[6].

Epstein argues “The Marco Polo (Lugou) Bridge, outside Wanping City, located more than 10 kilometers from downtown Beiping, is on the vital communication line in southwestern Beijing, and of strategic importance since ancient times.” This clearly shows a possible Japanese motive for occupying this land had they been aware that the surroundings and general location of the Lugou Bridge was of strategic importance. Also in his book Epstein states that Japan, prior to the Marco Polo Incident, had occupied three Northeastern Chinese Provinces (Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning)[7] showing the reader that Japan had previous acts of aggression against China.

According to John Toland it was not until the Sino-Japanese war had concluded that Japanese officers of the war, including ones that were directly involved in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, claimed that Mao’s agents had sparked the Incident[8] “We were then too simple to realize this was all a Communist plot” said by General Akio Doi, who Toland said to be a Russian expert. Mao had been known to want a united front against Japanese aggression[9], the reasoning proposed by Japanese General Akio Doi would give China a reason to blame Japan for causing the Marco Polo Incident. If Japan was seen to be instigating an event such as the Marco Polo Incident then Mao could unite China against Japanese aggression.

Although it is a possibility for China to have constructed the incident as a communist plot, the actions of the Imperial Japanese Army on the day of the Marco Polo Incident must be taken into account. On the day of the incident, Japanese forces were under the impression that Chinese forces had captured a member of their army. The Japanese forces responded to this by calling General Qin Dechun of the Chinese army, which they requested entrance to the suspected town. These actions are those of a country concerned for a member of their army. The Chinese refused to allow Japanese entry to Wanping due to the previous events of not informing China of their military training. The action of the day directly implementing blame on the Japanese is the event of Japanese army trying to forcefully gain access to the town of Wanping. Also after a Japanese investigator was allowed into the town to conduct a search Japanese forces open fired on the Chinese. This shows their instigation of the Incident.

E. Conclusion

Simply looking at the collected evidence given one can easily see how the Japanese were the instigators of this incident, however they were not solely to blame. The Chinese were refusing access to their town, which could have been seen as trying to stand against Japanese aggression, which inevitably was a reason for China’s unison against Japan. Had China granted access to the Japanese force into their town, the incident could have possibly been avoided s the Japanese would not have forcefully tried to gain access. To conclude the Japanese were not solely to blame for this incident although they are the primary instigators shown by the presented evidence.

F. List of Sources

  1.     "The Marco Polo Bridge Incident." History - China Culture. Cultural China. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. .  2.     "Marco Polo Bridge Incident (Asian History) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia."Encyclopedia - Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. .  3.     Epstein, Israel. History Should Not Be Forgotten. Beijing: China Intercontinental, 2005. Print.  4.     Ferguson, Niall. "China's War." The War of the World. Penguin. Print.  5.     Harper, Damian. China. Footscray, Vic., Australia: Lonely Planet Publications, 2007. Print.  6.     Peng, Xunhou. China in the World Anti-fascist War. [Beijing]: China Intercontinental,  2005. Print.  7.     Simkin, John. "Mao Zedong." Spartacus Educational. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. .  8.     Toland, John. The Rising Sun. The Decline and fall of the Japanese Empire. Random House, 1982. Print.  9.     Xiang, Ah. "Marco Polo Bridge Incident." Resistance Wars. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. .  10.  Xu, Haiyan. Historical View of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a Comparison of the Chinese and Japanese Accounts. Indiana University, 1990. Print.

[1] Encyclopedia Britannica  [2] Xiang, Ha  [3] "The Marco Polo Bridge Incident." History - China Culture. Cultural China. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. .     [4] (Harper, Damien: China p176)  [5] (Epstein, Israel: History Should Not Be Forgotten p13)  [6] (Ferguson, Niall: War of the World p306)  [7] (Epstein, Israel: History Should Not Be Forgotten p13)  [8] (Toland, John: The Rising Sun p43) [9] Simkin, John. "Mao Zedong." Spartacus Educational. Web. 13 Nov. 2011

How Many were Slaughtered at Nanking?


The investigation justifies the number of lives claimed by the Nanjing Massacre in the 1930s. In respond to this assessment, a primary source- a letter written by John Rabe to Hitler, a Chinese documentary novel called The Rape of Nanking, and various perspectives from Chinese and Japanese historians, will be examined. Two of the sources in this investigation, a letter by John Rabe to Hitler in 1938, and a documentary novel called the Rape of Nanking composed by Iris Chang, will be accessed through origin, purpose, value, and limitation.


In December 1937 the Japanese army marched into the Nanjing city beginning a reign of terror. “The troops murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians in horrific ways.” It was estimated the duration of the war had culminated in the death of twenty million Chinese. The city was practically collapsed into a defenceless habitat as “the government left Nanjing defenseless declaring it to be an “open city””. This therefore ensured massacres to prevail in all areas within and around the city. Since then, controversy aroused between groups from mainly China and Japan surrounds the number of people massacred by the Japanese troops during the years of the massacre. In one case a Chinese-German-made film called (John Rabe) has revealed the fact 300,000 people were killed when its film critic Song Ziwen asserts on the state-run Xinmin website, “'We always emphasize that 300,000 people were killed.” Similarily, numbers of Chinese official documents/historians point to the fact of apporximatly 300,000 deaths. Wu Tienwei, professor emeritus of history at Southern Illinois University, estimates a death toll of above 300,000. Sun Zhaiwei, a historian at the Jiangsu Acedemy of Social Sciences, concludes a number closing to 380,000. Contradictary, John Rabe’s diary and several Japanese historians have asserted relatively low figures compared to those submitted by the Chinese. In a letter addressing to Hitler from John Rabe in 1938 he stated, “We foreigners view the figure as having been from about 50,000 to 60,000.” Japanese historian, Hata Ikuhiko, argued a death toll of approximately 38000 to 42000 whereas he regarded the Chinese estimate of 300,000 deaths as exaggerated. Moreover, Fujiwara Akira, professor emeritus at Hitotsubashi University, has come up with an estimation of 200,000 deaths.


The first source to be evaluated according to its origin, purpose, value, and limitation is a primary source, a letter written in June 1938 by John Rabe to Hitler. The letter upholds a purpose “to persuade Hitler to intervene and stop the inhuman acts of violence committed by the Japanese.” The value of it lies in the fact it is a primary source written by an eye witness of the massacre. Moreover, its weight was shown when it was aimed at addressing to Hitler himself. The limitation of it is it failed to observe the full duration of the Nanjing Massacre since John Rabe left Nanjing in February 1938. The letter hasn’t been verified by any authority but exclusively accounted from the view of a foreigner whose observation in the area had been limited. The second source to be evaluated is an English history documentary novel called The Rape of Nanking. Its purpose is to narrate the events of the massacre from perspectives of the Japanese military, Chinese victims, and westerners. Its value is shown in its ability to blend in three various aspects to reconstruct a wider and more realistic context of history. It was also the “first comprehensive examination of the destruction of this Chinese imperial city.” The limitation is the book procured the information through various sources instead of first hand experiences. The book has been criticized for its nature of “seriously flawed” and “full of misinformation and harebrained explanations.” This’ perhaps due to the fact she lacks the experience with the subject matter.


The majority of the Chinese historians share a similar perspective on the fact of approximately 300,000 people were massacred throughout the course. Such fact is that certain of them based their research on the official Chinese burial records. Many people were desperate in dodging the gun fire by diving into the water while the fire persisted. This certainly would challenge the reliability of the burial records since some bodies might have been washed away or sunken to the riverbed. This inaccuracy also applies to the circumstance when gasoline was being set fire on corpses. Some experts including those from Japan have questioned the reliability of the 300,000 figure in areas concerning of double counting, and miscounting. The fact burial records were exclusively acquired from burial grounds miles away from the seashore; this therefore eliminated the possibility of taking into account of those corpses that were washed onshore then buried on spot. There were people questioning if 300,000 people existed inside the Nanking city after the Japanese troops marched in. This query was contradicted by numbers of Chinese official documents stating the number of people inside the city at that time were approximately 500,000. Nevertheless, although those factors stated above are influential to the death toll of 300,000, there still existed an uncertainty of whether those assumptions actually took place during the massacre for most of them were theories and infer. Contrary, the estimation of 300,000 deaths was reinforced by numerous primary elements. Interviews were conducted on 1,700 survivors of the massacre and arrived at a conclusion of 340,000 deaths. There was one case when the Japanese foreign minister Hirota Koki in January 1938 ordered to forward a telegram to America informing no less than 300,000 people were killed. And that was only the first month of the massacre. This is very ponderous evidence since it was devised by Japanese at that time.

Drawing to a conclusion from the analysis carried out, there is a higher possibility the 300,000 death toll is comparatively justified than the other assumptions. As have been briefly mentioned above, relatively low figures are often based on imaginative factors and theories such as double counting, miscounting, and so on, whereas the 300,000 death toll is closely associated with researches and investigations that were carried out practically namely interviews, and most importantly the recognition of certain Japanese officials.


Section A: Plan of the investigation

The purpose of this essay is to investigate “How many Chinese citizens were killed in Nanking by the Japanese army during 13th December 1937 to 24th January 1938.” To answer this question, I will focus on the numbers of the buried dead bodies. I am going to use Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang because it was the first best seller book about the Nanking Massacre written in English. I will use Nankin Jiken by Ikuhiko Hata. because this is a recognized book by a Japanese historian who has a neutral standpoint about the Nanking Massacre. To take a diversified stand point, I will use books that are critical of Chang’s book and books that support her point of view with regard to numbers of victims. Also I will use reports from the foreigners who were in the Nanking safety zone because they researched the scale of the damage at that time.

 Section B: Summary of evidence  The 2nd Sino-Japanese war began with the Marco Polo bridge incident on 7th July 1937  By 15th August, the Japanese navy started the first bomb attack on Nanking, the Chinese capital, without the declaration on war . Nanking was about 4,737km² in size and its population was around 1,000,000 in March 1937 . Because of the bombings, thousands of citizens fled from Nanking. The population decreased to 500,000 in November 1937 .  After the fall of Shanghai on 12th November, the Japanese army decided to invade Nanking on 20th November unilaterally, the Japanese government did not agree . Chiang Kai-shek decided to defend Nanking. He burned down the villages around the city so that the Japanese army could not use them . All important people and foreigners were asked to leave Nanking by November .To protect those citizens who were left behind, the 'International Committee of the Nanking safety zone' was created by the foreigners who stayed in Nanking . They made a 3.8km safety area within Nanking. The capital of China was removed from Nanking to Chongqing on 15th of November.  On 1st December the Japanese government officially accepted the Nanking capture operation. On 9th of December, Japan asked China to surrender Nanking  but China refused. Japan started to attack Nanking on 10th  December. There were about 120,000 Japanese soldiers and the Chinese army was about 50,000~100,000 . The problem of the Chinese army was that they had to recruit in a hurry so there were many untrained soldiers.   After Japan defeated the Chinese army outside Nanking, on 13th December 1937, the Japanese army broke into Nanking and started the sweep operation. Because the Chinese head quarters withdrew on 12th of December , the Chinese chain of command collapsed. Chinese soldiers started to change from uniforms to plain clothes in order to run away. Japan captured Nanking on 17th December. The “Nanking Massacre” happened after the capture of Nanking.  Since the Japanese army only had seventeen military police , there was nothing to stop the soldiers from ferocity. The Japanese army did not have enough supplies so soldiers started robbing . The Japanese army did not have the capability to take care of all the Chinese POW, so they decided to kill them.  
Japanese soldiers killed, raped and looted in Nanking. There were eye witnesses statements. Ohta, a Japanese Army Major stated in 1954when he was in prison in China that he and his unit dumped 19,000  dead bodies in the river from 15th of December for three days. He also stated that neighboring units disposed total of 130,000 bodies in the same period. Lu Shu said that he saw that 57,418 Chinese were killed by the Japanese Army in the night of 16th December . This report was one of the Chinese evidence of the Tokyo Trial. Members of the Safety Zone Committee wrote reports. Professor L. S. C. Smythe of the University of Nanking did a survey  in December 1937 about numbers of people killed during the massacre.  The German businessman, John Rabe who was the president of the Nanking safety Zone wrote in a letter to Hitler in 1937, that  he estimated that 60,000 Chinese died in the massacre.  Tsun-shan-tang and Red Swastika Society, charitable institutions in Nanking, were the main organizations that buried the dead bodies .  The Red Swastika Society buried 43,071 bodies . Tsun-shan-tang buried 112,266 .  
After the war the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Japan agreed that 260,000 Chinese died in Nanking.

 Section C : Evaluations of Sources 
Chang, Iris.(1997) The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. London, Penguin Books, 1998  
According to Chang, the purpose of the book is “not to establish a quantitative record to qualify the event as one of the great evil deeds in history, but to understand the event so that lessons can be learned and warnings sounded.”  . Since it was the first book written in English about the Nanking massacre, it introduced the topic to the west. More than 500,000 copies were sold  which shows the strong influence this book had. Chang states that more than 300,000 people died in the massacre, a number allocated by the Chinese Government (see appendix 1).Some historians such like David M. Kennedy from Stanford University, argue that this book is more focused to impeach Japan instead of working on a historical analysis of the event . Chang  is a journalist and not a historian. This can be seen from misunderstandings in her book regarding history, especially in Japanese history. For example, she has dates of the Tokugawa period wrong for more than hundred years    . Picture No.6 in the book (see appendix 2) is taken out of context. This picture is part of a Japanese propaganda photo that shows the Japanese army protecting Chinese farmers on their way home. It was not a picture of women being rounded up . Chang is Chinese American and through her comments, we can see that her point of view is biased. Her tone of writing is emotional and you can see some anti-Japanese perspective .   

Ikuhiko, Hata. (1986). Nankin Jiken(Nanking Incident):Gyakusatu no kouzou(Mechanism of the massacre) 
Hata inspects what actually happened in Nanking in 1937 by analyzing  Japanese military records, soldier's diaries and witnesses reports. According to Syudo Higasinakano, a Japanese historian, this book focuses on analyzing the data without nationalism common to those books. Since it is published 40 years after the Nanking massacre happened, it can look to the incident one step back which helps to exclude personal emotions. Although the author is Japanese, he is a historian studying modern Japanese military history and he is standing on a neutral point. The author believes that the numbers of victims were 40,000 . The argued numbers of victims range from a few thousands to 300,000 so Hata’s estimate is roughly in the middle. However, from the bibliography it is clear that Hata uses less Chinese sources and that he focuses more on Japanese sources which makes the conclusion one-sided.  

Section D: Analysis  This investigation is historically important because if 300,000 citizens died in Nanking, this massacre would be one of the biggest in modern history. But there is debate about the numbers of the people killed there. This historical event still causes tension between Japan and China as it is considered the symbol of the Japanese cruel invasion in China  (see appendix 1).   Chang argues that 300,000 people died in Nanking and she supports this by three main points; The burial records of Tsun-shan-tang and the Red Swastika Society , the statements from Hisao Ohta, and Lu Su, and the other reports from Chinese eyewitnesses that were sent to the Tokyo Trials. . By adding the data of the burial records and the numbers that the eyewitnesses saw, Chang concluded that the numbers of victims were at least 260,000 . To support her point, she referred the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Japan where they agreed that the victims of the Nanking were 260,000. As conclusion, Chang said that at least about 260,000 people were certainly dead and by adding the statements of eyewitnesses and the Japanese records, it will be more than 400,000.  However, there are some problems with her conclusion. Iris Chang does not provide evidence to support her claim of 300,000 victims but merely adds the numbers of dead bodies on all records without assessing the sources. According to Hata, one cannot simply add the numbers of dead bodies witnessed by people because it could be ambiguous and uncertain . Sun Lu stated that he saw 57,400 Chinese were killed by the Japanese military on the night of 16th December. But the question is how could a person know the exact numbers of people by watching at night? Another example is the statement of Ohta, the diary of Taterou Kajitani, the sergeant of the Japanese army, proves that Ohta arrived in Nanking on 25th December  so it is impossible for Ohta to bury dead bodies in Nanking on the 15th December. Eyewitnesses are not always reliable sources to use to get the numbers of dead bodies.  Secondly, according to Minoru Kitamura, a Japanese historian studying Chinese modern history, the burial record from Red Swastika Society is trustful since it accords with the Japanese records . But the burial record of Tsun-shan-tang is not accurate. According to the Japanese newspapers in 1937, the Red Swastika Society was mentioned as organization requested by the Japanese government to bury the dead bodies but Tsun-shan-tang was not mentioned in any newspapers although it buried more than twice as much as the Red Swastika Society did . Also the Nanking safety zone report written by Miner Searle Bates, only mentions Red Swastika Society as the main organization working on burial . In a letter to the Nanking self-government, the leader of the Tsun-shan-tang wrote that they only got one truck to use where Red Swastika society got 10 trucks. So it is physically impossible for such a small organization to burry more than 100,000 dead bodies in one month . Tsun-shan-tang buried massacre victims but it seems that it record was inflated so it is difficult to estimate how many they did burry.  Hata’s conclusion is that the numbers of dead bodies were about 40,000 . He reached this conclusion by subtracting the inaccurate records of the buried dead bodies from the total number, 155,000. He supports his argument with the facts of the survey by Symthe, member of the Nanking Safety Zone Committee who also stated that the number of buried victims in Nanking was about 40,000   This is an objective conclusion since it is based on the record. However Hatta developed a method to subtracting the numbers of dead bodies that are over counted but he does not explain his exact method . 

Section E: Conclusion  I conclude that the minimum number of people who were killed in Nanking was at least about 50,000 based on the estimation of Rabe and the survey of Smythe. I decided to use the burial record of Red Swastika Society, because this figure is mentioned by Hata, Chang and Kasahara who all have different view points on the massacre. Based on the books I read, I can conclude that Tsun-shan-tang also buried dead bodies.  The only way to estimate the numbers of people killed in Nanking is by counting the numbers of the burials. But this method will only show the minimum numbers of the victims. Because it is clear that not all victims of the massacre are buried, bodies might have been burned or dumped in the river.  It is impossible to know the numbers of victims. It seems that historians are starting with a certain stand point and try to prove that their argument is right and they are not considering to investigate from an objective point of view.  The Nanking Massacre did happen, the exact number of Chinese citizens that were killed by the Japanese army during 13th December 1937 to 24th January 1938 we might never know.

Section F: List of Sources

  Ara,Kenichi (2002) Nankin Jiken no Syougen(The witnesses of the Nanking Incident):Nihonjin 48nin no syougen(witnesses of 48 Japanese). Tokyo. Syougakkan 2005  Barrres, Charles (1998)  Amerika wo yurugasu “Za reipu obu nankin” Tyuoukouron  1998, August, www.history.gr.jp/~nanking/books_chuokouron9808.html viewed on  01.11.2011  Chang, Iris.(1997) The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. London, Penguin Books, 1998  The Diet Members Group for Japan’s Future and History Education (2008). The Truth of Nanjing:The League of nations Failed to even recognise the “Massacre of 20,000 Persons at Nanjing Tokyo,Nitisinhoudou. 2010  Fogel, Joshua. A. (2000) The Nanjing Massacre: in history and historiography, Berkeley, Los Angelos, London, University of California Press, 2000  Fujioka, Nobukastu. Syudou Higasinakano (1999). Za Reipu obu Nankin no kenkyuu( The study on the Rape of Nanking), Tokyo, Syoudensya, 2007  Hata, Ikuhiko(1986) .Nankin Jiken: Gyakusatu no koudou(The Nanking Incident: the mechanism of the massacre), Tokyo,Tyuoukouronsya, 2007   Kasahara, Tokushi.(1997) Nankin Jiken(The Nanking Incident), Tokyo, Iwanamisinyo, 2009  : so no jituzou wo motomete(The research of the Nanking Incident: to find the real image), Tokyo,Bungeisyusyun. 2007  Li, Fei Fei;Sabella, Robert; Liu, David (2002). Nanking 1937: Memory and healing, Armonk, New York, M.E. Sharpe,Inc. 2002  Takemoto, Tadao;Ohara, Yasuo (2000). The Alleged Nanking Massacre: Japan’s rebuttal to China’s forged claims, Tokyo, Meiseisya 2010  Wakabayashi, Bob.T (2001). The Nanking Massacre, now you see it..., Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 56. No 4  Tokyo, Sophia University Press,2001

Why Did Macarthur Ignore the Postdam Declaration's Demand for the Removal of the Japanese Emperor?

IBDP Extended Essay in History

This essay analyzes the reason for the decision to exonerate the Emperor of Japan from WWII war crimes contrary to the terms first presented in the Potsdam Declaration of July 1945.
On July 17, 1945, President Harry S Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Party General Secretary to the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin met in Potsdam to discuss the terms of surrender for Germany.  Also, during the conference, Churchill, Truman and Chaing Kai Chek, Chairman of Nationalist China, outlined the terms of surrender for Japan.  On July 26, the Potsdam Declaration was issued to Japan calling for their unconditional surrender at the risk of total annihilation.  While the declaration did not specifically address the Emperor or the Emperor system, it did state; “stern justice will be meted to all war criminals”.   This language suggested that the Emperor might be vulnerable and in contrast to the Atlantic Charter that the Japanese had been negotiating for, be tried and hung as a war criminal.
On August 6th & 9th, 1945, two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Japan surrendered.  By August 30th, the US occupied Japan with General MacArthur appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.  He was given absolute authority to implement the terms of the Potsdam Declaration with the eventual goal to democratize Japan.
But Macarthur also had to deal with the Emperor.  While the other allied powers wanted the Emperor to be tried and hung as a war criminal, MacArthur learned that such an act would be the equivalent to crucifying Christ to the Japanese people who viewed the Emperor as a God and would rather die than see him deposed and humiliated.  As a consequence, MacArthur reasoned that he could use the Emperor as effective tool to further his larger goal to democratize and restore Japan as an ally in the Pacific.
This essay concludes that MacArthur needed the Emperor in order to fulfill the goals of the Potsdam Declaration.

            On the 17th of July 1945, U.S. President Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union convened in Potsdam, Germany for a conference to discuss reparations for a defeated Nazi Germany. Nine days later at the same conference, Churchill and Truman sat down with Chairman Chaing Kai-shek, leader of the nationalist government of China to discuss the surrender terms for Japan.  Known as the Potsdam Declaration, Japan was issued an ultimatum for unconditional surrender with the threat of total annihilation should they refuse.  The Allies stayed true to their promise dropping atomic bombs both on Hiroshima on August 6th and Nagasaki 3, days later.  The bombings were followed up by the surrender of Japan and the occupation of Japanese soil by American forces on August 30th, 1945. The occupation would last until 1952.
            Documents from the MacArthur Memorial show that the Truman administration had a general consensus that “fundamental changes” should be imposed in the political, industrial, and general economic conditions of German, Italy, and Japan.  (The MacArthur Memorial)  However, Japan was seen as a special case and was given special consideration.  The administration believed that:
In a few words, the basic point that was being made was that a viable Japanese economy is to be considered a first prerequisite of lasting peace in the Pacific. (The MacArthur Memorial)
The process of democratization and the roles played by General MacArthur and the Emperor is the scope of this essay.

Prior to the end of the Second World War, Japan had little in the way of democracy. It possessed no political parties and hosted no free elections, and women were denied what even those living in 40s considered “equal rights”.  (Constitutional Rights Foundation)  Despite the Meji Constitution outlining a few individual liberties, from an American standpoint there were few.  For instance, although free speech was protected under the constitution, the government prohibited what it considered to be “dangerous thoughts.” (Constitutional Rights Foundation) This was intentional.  The Meji Constitution (1889) was designed to concentrate actual political power into the hands of a small group of influential political leaders whose sole loyalty and responsibility was to the Emperor, not the people.  From 1930 to the end of the Second World War only military officials dominated this governing group. (Constitutional Rights Foundation)
             In the aftermath of the two atomic bombings and the surrender of Japan to the Allies, the Japanese government indicated it would accept the conditions of the Potsdam Declaration on the understanding that it would not include any demands that would compromise the authority of the Emperor as the sovereign ruler of the country, thereby preserving the “kokutai”.  The kokutai represents “a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.” (National Diet Library)
However, the Allies were adamant that under the occupation the most powerful leader would be the military governor and stated, “the authority of the Emperor… to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” (National Diet Library)  Additionally, the Allies aimed to ultimately create a system where democratically elected leaders would hold the highest authority in Japan, stating that, “the ultimate form of Government of Japan shall…be established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people.”  (Constitutional Rights Foundation)
On September 6, 1945, General MacArthur was installed as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) over the occupation forces in Japan.  While control of Japan would be through the Japanese government, MacArthur could employ such measures as necessary, including the “use of force”.  (National Diet Library)  It was also stated that the Potsdam Declaration did not override Japan’s “unconditional surrender” and that the government of the UK, Soviet Union, or China was under the authority of MacArthur.
However, while MacArthur held power over the government, the Emperor was still a powerful symbol to the people and held a considerable influence over their hearts and minds despite being stripped of all formal authority.  General MacArthur was told by his advisors that executing the Emperor would be the same as “crucifying Jesus Christ” to the people who saw him as a God and would lead to widespread unrest insurrections.  (Harvey)  MacArthur reflects on this in his autobiography: “... I would need at least one million reinforcements should such an action be taken … Military government would have to be instituted throughout all Japan, and guerrilla warfare would probably break out.” (Harvey)  Having chosen to keep the Japanese Parliament (the Diet), as well the original cabinet in place, MacArthur next faced the question of what to do with Hirohito.  In his memoirs, MacArthur wrote of his first meeting with the Emperor.
Shortly after my arrival in Tokyo, I was urged by members of my staff to summon the Emperor to my headquarters as a show of power. I brushed the suggestions aside. "To do so," I explained, "would be to outrage the feelings of the Japanese people and make a martyr of the Emperor in their eyes.
No, I shall wait and in time the Emperor will voluntarily come to see me. In this case, the patience of the East rather than the haste of the West will best serve our purpose."
The Emperor did indeed shortly request an interview. (On 27 September 1945) In cutaway, striped trousers, and top hat, riding in his Daimler with the imperial grand chamberlain facing him on the jump seat, Hirohito arrived at the embassy. I had, from the start of the occupation, directed that there should be no derogation in his treatment. Every honor due a sovereign was to be his. I met him cordially, and recalled that I had at one time been received by his father at the close of the Russo-Japanese War. He was nervous and the stress of the past months showed plainly. I dismissed everyone but his own interpreter, and we sat down before an open fire at one end of the long reception hall.
I offered him an American cigarette, which he took with thanks. I noticed how his hands shook as I lighted it for him. I tried to make it as easy for him as I could, but I knew how deep and dreadful must be his agony of humiliation. I had an uneasy feeling he might plead his own cause against indictment as a war criminal. There had been considerable outcry from some of the Allies, notably the Russians and the British, to include him in this category. Indeed, the initial list of those proposed by them was headed by the Emperor's name. Realizing the tragic consequences that would follow such an unjust action, I had stoutly resisted such efforts. When Washington seemed to be veering toward the British point of view, I had advised that I would need at least one million reinforcements should such action be taken. I believed that if the Emperor were indicted, and perhaps hanged, as a war criminal, military government would have to be instituted throughout all Japan, and guerrilla warfare would probably break out. The Emperor's name had then been stricken from the list. But of all this he knew nothing. But my fears were groundless. What he said was this: "I come to you, General MacArthur, to offer myself to the judgment of the powers you represent as the one to bear sole responsibility for every political and military decision made and action taken by my people in the conduct of war." A tremendous impression swept me. This courageous assumption of a responsibility implicit with death, a responsibility clearly belied by facts of which I was fully aware, moved me to the very marrow of my bones. He was an - Emperor by inherent birth, but in that instant I knew I faced the First Gentleman of Japan in his own right.  (MacArthur 287)
Nevertheless, both the Russians and the British wanted Hirohito to be tried and hanged as a war criminal and by November, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered MacArthur to gather information regarding whether the Emperor been responsible for any war crimes and called for either the complete abolishment of the Emperor System or steps initiating its reform along democratic lines. (National Diet Library) In response, MacArthur sent a telegram dated January 25, 1946 reporting that he could find no evidence of the Emperor’s involvement with war crimes and that to try the Emperor would generate confusion and unrest in Japan.  In his classified telegram to the War Department he wrote:
No specific and tangible evidence has been uncovered with regard to his exact activities, which might connect him in varying degree with the political decisions of the Japanese Emperor during the last decade.  I have gained the definite impression from as complete a research as was possible to me that his connection with affairs of state up to the time of the end of the war was largely ministerial and automatically responsive to the advice of his counsellors.  There are those who believe that even had he positive ideas it would have been quite possible that any effort on his part to thwart the current of public opinion controlled and represented by the dominant military clique would have placed him in actual jeopardy.  If he is to be tried great changes must be made in the occupational plans and due preparation therefore should be accomplished in preparedness before actual action is initiated.  His indictment will unquestionably cause a tremendous convulsion among the Japanese people.  He is a symbol which (sic) unites all Japanese. Destroy him and the nation will disintegrate. (National Diet Library)
On August 14th, 1945, the Emperor submitted and publicly stated during the New Years Address the “Imperial Rescript for the Termination of the War” in which he stated, “The kokutai (“the line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal”) has been maintained.” During the address, the Emperor also renounced his claim to Godhood and stated that the concept of the Emperor’s divinity was not true. (National Diet Library) That same day, MacArthur commented on Hirohito’s Imperial Rescript, praising the Emperor for taking the first steps to democratizing Japan.  He wrote in a press release;
The Emperor’s New Year’s statement pleases me very much.  By it he undertakes a leading part in the democratization of his people.  He squarely takes his stand for the future along liberal lines.  His action reflects the irresistible influence of a sound idea.  A sound idea cannot be stopped.” (National Diet Library)
Early into his position as military governor, MacArthur saw the need for a complete overhaul of the Meji Constitution. In his autobiography he said:
We could not simply encourage the growth of democracy. We had to make sure that it grew. Under the old constitution, government flowed downward from the emperor, who held the supreme authority, to those to whom he had delegated power. It was a dictatorship to begin with; a hereditary one, and the people existed to serve it. (Constitutional Rights Foundation)
To this end, MacArthur assembled a team to draft a new constitution for Japan composing of himself, Courtney Whitney, the Chief Government Section at GHQ, and the Steering Committee.  The team worked on the language of the new constitution, paying special attention to the language of the document pertaining to the relationship between the people and the Emperor.  For example, the team had originally drafted “The Emperor shall be the symbol of the state and of the Unity of the People,…” along with recognition and declaration regarding to, “the sovereignty of the people’s will.” (National Diet Library)  In March, the phrase “the sovereignty of the people’s will” was replaced with “the supreme will of the people” which made the principles for sovereignty of the people ambiguous.  (National Diet Library)  Ultimately, the language was amended to include “proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people” and the passage relating to the Emperor to read, “deriving his position from the will of the people with who resides sovereign power.” (National Diet Library)
The Japanese parliament was stunned by the radical changes in the new “model constitution” finding it hard to grasp the concept of “rule by the people” which conflicted so much with the Japanese tradition of ultimate obedience to the Emperor.  The average people of Japan were also confused and upset.  MacArthur had chosen to keep Hirohito only as “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people.” (Constitutional Rights Foundation) After debating among themselves and failing to come to a consensus, the Japanese cabinet went to the Emperor to ask if they should accept the model constitution.  On February 22, Hirohito made his decision in favor of the “model” becoming the basis for which the new Japanese constitution was written.  “Upon these principles,” Hirohito said, “will we truly rest the welfare of our people and the rebuilding of Japan.” (Constitutional Rights Foundation) However, even following the enactment of the constitution the problems in interpreting the “sovereignty of the people and the Emperor as a symbol” still proved to be a contentious issue. (National Diet Library)

            The Constitutional Rights Foundation credits MacArthur with developing democracy in Japan by abolishing laws that suppressed political, civil, and religious liberties and by forcing the Diet to pass new laws for free, democratic elections.
His policies dismantled the Japanese military industrial complex and disbarred 200,000 wartime officials from ever holding office in the new Japan. He even eliminated government support from Shinto, the official state religion.  (Constitutional Rights Foundation)
The Japanese eventually welcomed these changes. The Americans encouraged an atmosphere of free public debate and discussion on nearly every kind of issue, from politics to marriage to women’s rights. After years of wartime censorship and thought control, most Japanese appreciated their new freedom. (CountriesQuest.com)
 However, this could not be accomplished without the cooperation of Hirohito. Without the humility and bravery Hirohito displayed in surrendering to the Allies, the lives of countless solders and civilians on both sides would have been lost in the subsequent invasion.  (Sanello)

Constitutional Rights Foundation. Bringing Democracy to Japan. Los Angeles.

Harvey, Robert. "American Shogun: MacArthur, Hirohito and the American Duel with Japan." n.d.

MacArthur, General Douglas. Reminiscences. Naval Institute Press, 2001.

National Diet Library. "Emperor, Imperial Rescript Denying His Divinity (Professing His Humanity)." 2003-2004. Birth of the Constitution of Japan. April 2013 .

—. "Popular Sovereignty and the Emperor System." 2003-2004. Birth of the Japanese Constitution. April 2013 .

—. "Telegram, MacArthur to Eisenhower ... concerning exemption of the Emperor from War Criminals." 2003-2004. Documents with Commentaries. April 2013 .

Sanello, Frank. "Why Gen MacArthur Spared Emperor Hirohito
's Life but not Gen Tojo's." Red Room. June 2013 .
The MacArthur Memorial. "The Occupation of Japan Economic Policy and Reform." The Proceedings of a Symposium Sponsored by the MacArthur Memorial. Norfolk: The MacArthur Memorial, 1980.  

From the May 2014 IBDP History Paper 2 Exam

For what reasons, and by what methods, did political and economic change occur in Japan between 1945 and 1952?

The period between 1945 and 1952 marked a significant transformation in Japan's political and economic landscape. The end of World War II in 1945 saw Japan surrendering to the Allied powers, leading to the commencement of the American-led occupation. This period, known as the Occupation Era, was characterised by profound changes in Japan's political and economic structures, driven by the need to rebuild a war-torn nation and the desire to prevent the resurgence of militarism. The reasons for these changes were multifaceted, encompassing both internal and external factors, while the methods employed were equally diverse, ranging from constitutional reforms to economic policies. This essay will delve into these reasons and methods, drawing on the perspectives of various scholars to provide a comprehensive analysis of this transformative period in Japanese history. 

The first significant reason for the political and economic changes in Japan during this period was the Allied Occupation, led by the United States. The occupation was a direct consequence of Japan's surrender in World War II, and it brought about a radical transformation in the country's political system. Dower, a prominent scholar on Japanese history, argues that the occupation was instrumental in dismantling Japan's pre-war political structures. The American-led forces sought to democratise Japan, viewing the pre-war political system as a breeding ground for militarism. As a result, they implemented a series of political reforms aimed at creating a democratic government. The most notable of these reforms was the promulgation of a new constitution in 1947, often referred to as the "Postwar Constitution" or the "Constitution of Japan". This constitution, according to Dower, was a radical departure from the Meiji Constitution of 1889, which had established Japan as a constitutional monarchy with a powerful emperor at its helm. The new constitution, in contrast, significantly curtailed the powers of the emperor, relegating him to a purely symbolic role, and established a parliamentary system of government. This marked a significant shift in Japan's political landscape, as it effectively ended the era of imperial rule and ushered in a new era of democratic governance. The occupation authorities also implemented a series of political reforms aimed at decentralising power and promoting political participation. These included the introduction of universal suffrage, the establishment of labour unions, and the implementation of educational reforms aimed at promoting democratic values. These reforms, Dower argues, were instrumental in fostering a democratic culture in Japan and facilitating the emergence of a vibrant civil society.

In addition to the political changes, the occupation also brought about significant economic transformations. The Japanese economy was in ruins at the end of World War II, with much of its industrial infrastructure destroyed and its financial system in disarray. The occupation authorities, therefore, embarked on a series of economic reforms aimed at rebuilding the economy and preventing the resurgence of pre-war zaibatsu, the powerful family-controlled monopolies that had dominated the Japanese economy. According to Schaller, these reforms included the dissolution of the zaibatsu, the introduction of antitrust laws, and the implementation of land reforms. The dissolution of the zaibatsu was aimed at breaking up the concentration of economic power and fostering competition. The antitrust laws were designed to prevent the re-emergence of monopolies and promote a free-market economy. The land reforms, on the other hand, were aimed at redistributing land to the rural poor and transforming the agrarian structure of the Japanese economy. Schaller argues that these reforms were instrumental in laying the foundation for Japan's post-war economic miracle. By breaking up the zaibatsu, the occupation authorities facilitated the emergence of new industries and enterprises, which played a crucial role in driving economic growth in the post-occupation period. The land reforms, meanwhile, helped to alleviate rural poverty and stimulate domestic demand, thereby contributing to economic recovery. However, it is important to note that the success of these reforms was not solely due to the policies of the occupation authorities. As Schaller points out, the Japanese government and the Japanese people also played a crucial role in implementing these reforms and rebuilding the economy. The government, for instance, implemented a series of economic policies aimed at promoting industrialisation and economic growth, while the Japanese people showed remarkable resilience and determination in the face of adversity. In conclusion, the Allied Occupation was a major catalyst for political and economic change in Japan between 1945 and 1952. The occupation authorities implemented a series of political and economic reforms that transformed Japan's political system and laid the foundation for its post-war economic miracle. However, the success of these reforms was also due to the efforts of the Japanese government and the Japanese people, who showed remarkable resilience and determination in rebuilding their country.

Another significant reason for the political and economic changes in Japan during this period was the emergence of new political and economic ideologies. With the dismantling of the pre-war political structures, there was a vacuum that was filled by new political ideologies. According to Gordon, the most significant of these was the rise of social democracy, which had a profound impact on Japan's political and economic policies. Social democracy, as an ideology, advocates for a balance between free-market capitalism and state intervention. It supports a welfare state and believes in democratic governance, social equality, and civil liberties. In the context of post-war Japan, social democracy manifested in the form of the Japanese Socialist Party, which became a significant political force during this period. The rise of social democracy had a profound impact on Japan's economic policies. Gordon argues that it led to the adoption of a mixed economy model, which combined elements of free-market capitalism with state intervention. This was reflected in the government's economic policies, which included state-led industrialisation, protectionist trade policies, and the establishment of a comprehensive welfare system. The influence of social democracy was also evident in the government's approach to labour relations. The government implemented a series of labour reforms, including the recognition of labour unions, the introduction of collective bargaining, and the establishment of minimum wage laws. These reforms, according to Gordon, were instrumental in improving labour conditions and promoting social equality.

The influence of social democracy was not confined to economic policies and labour relations. It also had a profound impact on Japan's political structures. The Japanese Socialist Party, despite not being able to secure a majority in the Diet, played a significant role in shaping Japan's post-war political landscape. According to Gordon, the party's advocacy for democratic governance, social equality, and civil liberties resonated with a significant section of the Japanese populace, particularly those who had been marginalised under the pre-war political system. This led to a significant shift in Japan's political culture. The pre-war era, characterised by authoritarian rule and social hierarchy, gave way to a more egalitarian and democratic political culture. This shift was reflected in the increased political participation of the Japanese populace, the emergence of a vibrant civil society, and the strengthening of democratic institutions. However, it is important to note that the rise of social democracy and the subsequent political and economic changes were not without opposition. According to Dower, there were significant conservative forces within Japan that resisted these changes. These forces, which included elements within the bureaucracy, the business community, and the political establishment, sought to preserve the status quo and resist the encroachment of social democratic ideals. This resistance, Dower argues, led to a significant political struggle, which shaped the trajectory of Japan's post-war political and economic transformation. In the realm of economic changes, the influence of social democracy was also evident in the government's approach to economic planning. The government adopted a policy of state-led industrialisation, which involved significant state intervention in the economy. This policy, according to Schaller, was instrumental in driving Japan's post-war economic recovery and growth.

The third significant reason for the political and economic changes in Japan during this period was the geopolitical context of the Cold War. The period between 1945 and 1952 coincided with the early stages of the Cold War, a period of intense rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Japan, due to its strategic location in East Asia, became a focal point of this rivalry. According to LaFeber, the Cold War had a profound impact on Japan's political and economic transformation. The United States, in particular, viewed Japan as a crucial ally in its efforts to contain the spread of communism in Asia. As a result, the American-led occupation authorities implemented a series of policies aimed at transforming Japan into a stable and prosperous democracy that could serve as a bulwark against communism. These policies, LaFeber argues, were instrumental in shaping Japan's post-war political and economic structures. On the political front, the United States supported the establishment of a democratic government in Japan and implemented a series of political reforms aimed at promoting democratic governance. These reforms, as discussed earlier, included the promulgation of a new constitution, the introduction of universal suffrage, and the implementation of educational reforms aimed at promoting democratic values.

On the economic front, the United States played a crucial role in rebuilding Japan's economy. According to LaFeber, the United States provided significant financial aid to Japan under the auspices of the Economic Stabilization Board and later the Economic Cooperation Act. This aid was instrumental in stabilising Japan's economy and facilitating its post-war economic recovery. Moreover, the United States also supported Japan's policy of state-led industrialisation. This policy, as discussed earlier, involved significant state intervention in the economy and was aimed at promoting economic growth and development. The United States viewed a prosperous and stable Japan as a crucial ally in its efforts to contain communism, and therefore supported Japan's economic policies. However, it is important to note that the Cold War also posed significant challenges to Japan's political and economic transformation. The geopolitical tensions of the Cold War, according to Dower, created a sense of insecurity and uncertainty in Japan, which had a profound impact on its political and economic policies. For instance, the fear of communist subversion led to a crackdown on leftist movements in Japan, which had a chilling effect on political dissent and civil liberties. In the realm of economics, the Cold War led to a significant militarisation of Japan's economy. According to Schaller, the Korean War, which broke out in 1950, led to a surge in demand for Japanese goods and services, particularly in the military-industrial sector. This, in turn, had a profound impact on Japan's economic structure, leading to the emergence of a "military-industrial complex" that played a crucial role in Japan's post-war economic miracle.

The period between 1945 and 1952 was a transformative era in Japan's history, marked by profound political and economic changes. The reasons for these changes were multifaceted, encompassing the impact of the Allied Occupation, the rise of social democracy, and the geopolitical context of the Cold War. The methods employed to bring about these changes were equally diverse, ranging from constitutional reforms to economic policies. The Allied Occupation, led by the United States, played a crucial role in dismantling Japan's pre-war political structures and laying the foundation for its post-war economic miracle. The occupation authorities implemented a series of political and economic reforms that transformed Japan's political system and economic structure. The rise of social democracy also had a profound impact on Japan's political and economic transformation. The social democratic ideals of democratic governance, social equality, and state intervention influenced Japan's political culture and economic policies, leading to the adoption of a mixed economy model and the implementation of labour reforms. The geopolitical context of the Cold War, meanwhile, influenced Japan's political and economic transformation in significant ways. The United States, viewing Japan as a crucial ally in its efforts to contain communism, supported Japan's political and economic reforms. However, the Cold War also posed significant challenges to Japan's transformation, leading to a crackdown on leftist movements and the militarisation of Japan's economy. 

In sum, the political and economic changes in Japan between 1945 and 1952 were the result of a complex interplay of internal and external factors. These changes laid the foundation for Japan's post-war recovery and growth, transforming it into a democratic nation and an economic powerhouse. The analysis of these changes provides valuable insights into the process of political and economic transformation and the factors that shape it.

From the November 2014 IBDP Paper 2 Exam

Evaluate the reasons for, and methods used in, the post-war reconstruction of Japan between 1945 and 1952.

The post-war reconstruction of Japan between 1945 and 1952, a period marked by significant political, economic, and social changes, has been a subject of extensive historical analysis. This essay will evaluate the reasons for and methods used in this reconstruction, focusing on the influence of the Allied Occupation, the role of Japanese leaders, and the impact of economic policies. 

The Allied Occupation, led by the United States under General Douglas MacArthur, was a significant factor in the post-war reconstruction of Japan. The Occupation's primary objective was to demilitarise and democratise Japan, transforming it from an imperial power to a peaceful nation. Dower, a prominent scholar in the field, argues that the Occupation's policies were instrumental in shaping post-war Japan. He contends that the Occupation's policies, such as the drafting of a new constitution, the purging of wartime leaders, and the promotion of civil liberties, laid the foundation for Japan's democratic system. The new constitution, known as the "Postwar Constitution" or the "Constitution of Japan," was enacted in 1947. According to Dower, it was a radical document that not only stripped the emperor of his divine status and political power but also guaranteed civil liberties and human rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. The constitution also included a clause renouncing war, making Japan the first nation to constitutionally renounce war as a sovereign right. The purge of wartime leaders was another significant policy implemented by the Occupation. Dower argues that this policy aimed to remove individuals who had been involved in Japan's militaristic and imperialistic policies from positions of power. The purge affected over 200,000 individuals, including government officials, military officers, and industrialists. This policy allowed for the emergence of new leaders who were more aligned with the democratic ideals promoted by the Occupation. The Occupation also promoted civil liberties and democratic values through various means. According to Dower, the Occupation sought to foster a democratic culture in Japan by encouraging freedom of speech and assembly, promoting labour rights, and implementing educational reforms. These reforms aimed to replace Japan's militaristic and nationalistic education system with one that emphasised democratic values and critical thinking.

The economic policies implemented by the Occupation also played a crucial role in Japan's post-war reconstruction. The Occupation initially focused on stabilising Japan's economy, which had been devastated by the war. According to Dower, the Occupation implemented policies such as the dissolution of zaibatsu, the reform of land ownership, and the promotion of labour rights to address economic inequality and stimulate economic growth. The dissolution of zaibatsu, large family-controlled vertical monopolies, was a significant policy aimed at dismantling the economic power of the wartime elite. Dower argues that this policy was not only intended to democratise Japan's economy but also to prevent the re-emergence of militarism, as zaibatsu had been instrumental in supporting Japan's war efforts. The dissolution of zaibatsu led to the emergence of keiretsu, horizontal alliances of companies with interlocking business relationships, which became a key feature of Japan's post-war economy. The land reform implemented by the Occupation was another significant policy that transformed Japan's economy. According to Dower, this policy aimed to break the power of the landlord class and stimulate agricultural productivity by redistributing land to tenant farmers. The land reform was remarkably successful, with over 2 million hectares of land redistributed to tenant farmers, leading to increased agricultural productivity and rural living standards. The Occupation also promoted labour rights, including the right to organise and bargain collectively. Dower contends that these policies aimed to empower workers and create a more equitable economic system. However, the Occupation's commitment to labour rights waned in the late 1940s due to fears of communist influence in labour unions.

Whilst the Allied Occupation played a significant role in Japan's post-war reconstruction, the role of Japanese leaders should not be overlooked. Scholars such as Dower argue that Japanese leaders, both political and bureaucratic, were instrumental in implementing the Occupation's policies and shaping Japan's post-war trajectory. One of the key figures in this period was Yoshida Shigeru, who served as Prime Minister for most of the Occupation period. Yoshida's leadership was marked by pragmatism and a focus on economic recovery. His policy, known as the "Yoshida Doctrine," prioritised economic development over military expansion, a strategy that contributed significantly to Japan's post-war economic miracle. Yoshida's approach was characterised by a willingness to cooperate with the Occupation authorities while protecting Japan's interests. For instance, he supported the new constitution and the democratic reforms implemented by the Occupation. However, he also negotiated with the Occupation authorities to retain the emperor, albeit in a symbolic role, a move that helped to maintain continuity and stability in a period of radical change. Another significant figure was Ikeda Hayato, who served as the Minister of Finance under Yoshida and later became Prime Minister. Ikeda is credited with implementing the "Income Doubling Plan" in the 1960s, a policy that aimed to double Japan's national income in ten years. This policy, which focused on promoting consumerism and high economic growth, was instrumental in transforming Japan into an economic powerhouse.

The economic policies implemented by Japanese leaders were crucial in rebuilding Japan's economy and laying the foundation for its post-war economic miracle. Yoshida and Ikeda, in particular, pursued policies that promoted economic growth and stability. Yoshida's economic policy, often referred to as the "Yoshida Doctrine," prioritised economic recovery over military expansion. According to Dower, Yoshida believed that Japan's security and prosperity depended on rebuilding its economy and maintaining a close relationship with the United States. Thus, he focused on promoting industrialisation and trade, while relying on the United States for security. Under Yoshida's leadership, Japan embarked on a process of rapid industrialisation, focusing on sectors such as steel, shipbuilding, and automobiles. Yoshida also promoted foreign trade, particularly with the United States, which became Japan's largest trading partner. These policies resulted in high economic growth rates and the transformation of Japan into an industrialised nation. Ikeda, who served as Prime Minister after Yoshida, continued and expanded upon Yoshida's economic policies. Ikeda is best known for his "Income Doubling Plan," a policy that aimed to double Japan's national income in ten years. According to Dower, this policy was based on the belief that high economic growth would lead to increased consumer spending, which in turn would stimulate further economic growth. The "Income Doubling Plan" was remarkably successful, with Japan's national income more than doubling in seven years.

The economic policies implemented during the post-war reconstruction period had a profound impact on Japan's society and economy. Scholars such as Dower argue that these policies not only transformed Japan's economy but also reshaped its social structure and cultural norms. One of the most significant impacts of these policies was the rapid industrialisation of Japan's economy. The focus on sectors such as steel, shipbuilding, and automobiles led to the emergence of a strong manufacturing sector, which became the engine of Japan's economic growth. This industrialisation process resulted in significant urbanisation, as people moved from rural areas to cities to work in factories. The economic policies also led to the emergence of a large middle class in Japan. The "Income Doubling Plan" implemented by Ikeda, in particular, resulted in significant increases in wages and living standards. According to Dower, this policy not only stimulated economic growth but also promoted social stability by reducing economic inequality. The economic growth also led to significant changes in Japan's cultural norms. The high economic growth rates and the emergence of a consumer culture led to the adoption of Western lifestyles and values. Dower argues that this cultural shift was a key factor in the transformation of Japan's society and the consolidation of its democratic system.

While the economic policies implemented during the post-war reconstruction period had significant positive impacts, they also faced challenges and criticisms. Dower, among others, has highlighted several issues related to these policies. One of the main criticisms is that the focus on high economic growth led to the neglect of social issues. Dower argues that the pursuit of economic growth often came at the expense of social welfare, leading to problems such as income inequality and overwork. For instance, the "Income Doubling Plan" was successful in stimulating economic growth, but it also led to an increase in income disparity and a culture of overwork, known as "karoshi." Another criticism is that the economic policies contributed to the emergence of a consumer culture that led to overconsumption and environmental degradation. The promotion of consumerism, according to Dower, resulted in a throwaway culture that has had significant environmental impacts. Despite these criticisms, it is undeniable that the economic policies implemented during the post-war reconstruction period played a crucial role in transforming Japan into an economic powerhouse. They not only rebuilt Japan's economy but also reshaped its society and culture, laying the foundation for Japan's post-war prosperity.

The post-war reconstruction of Japan between 1945 and 1952 was a complex process that involved significant political, economic, and social changes. The Allied Occupation, under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur, played a crucial role in this process, implementing policies aimed at demilitarising and democratising Japan. These policies, as Dower has argued, laid the foundation for Japan's democratic system and transformed its economy. Japanese leaders, particularly Yoshida Shigeru and Ikeda Hayato, were instrumental in implementing these policies and shaping Japan's post-war trajectory. Yoshida's pragmatic leadership and focus on economic recovery, embodied in the "Yoshida Doctrine," and Ikeda's "Income Doubling Plan" were key factors in Japan's economic miracle. The economic policies implemented during this period not only transformed Japan's economy but also reshaped its social structure and cultural norms. However, these policies also faced challenges and criticisms, particularly regarding their social and environmental impacts. In conclusion, the post-war reconstruction of Japan was a multifaceted process that involved a combination of external influences, particularly from the Allied Occupation, and internal factors, including the leadership of Japanese leaders and the implementation of economic policies. Despite the challenges and criticisms, the reconstruction process was remarkably successful, transforming Japan from a war-torn country into a democratic nation and an economic powerhouse.

From the May 2006 IBDP History Paper 2 Exam

 Assess the successes and failures of governments in Japan (1945-52)

The period from 1945 to 1952 in Japan, often referred to as the Occupation Era, was a time of significant political, social, and economic transformation. The Allied occupation, led by the United States, sought to demilitarise and democratise Japan following its surrender in World War II. This essay will critically analyse the successes and failures of the governments during this period, focusing on three key areas: political reform, economic restructuring, and social change. 

The first area of focus is the political reform implemented during the Occupation Era. The most significant political change was the promulgation of the new constitution in 1947, often referred to as the "Postwar Constitution" or the "Constitution of Japan". This constitution, drafted under the supervision of General Douglas MacArthur, replaced the 1889 Meiji Constitution and fundamentally altered Japan's political landscape. Dower, a prominent scholar on Japanese history, argues that the new constitution was a radical departure from the past, as it stripped the emperor of all political power and transformed the imperial institution into a purely symbolic entity. The constitution also established Japan as a democratic state with a parliamentary system of government, guaranteeing civil liberties and human rights, and renouncing war as a sovereign right of the nation. However, the constitution was not without its critics. According to Bix, the constitution was seen by some as an imposed document, drafted by foreign powers and lacking in legitimacy. Furthermore, the retention of the emperor, albeit in a symbolic role, was a contentious issue. Despite these criticisms, the constitution has remained largely unchanged since its implementation, suggesting a degree of success in its acceptance and longevity.

Continuing the analysis of political reform, it is essential to consider the establishment of democratic institutions and practices. The Occupation authorities sought to democratise Japan by promoting political participation and competition. They dismantled the pre-war political structure, dissolved ultranationalist organisations, and encouraged the formation of new political parties. Scholars like Schaller have argued that these reforms were successful in creating a multi-party system and fostering a democratic political culture. The 1946 general election, the first in which women could vote and run for office, was a landmark event that symbolised Japan's transition to democracy. However, the democratic process was not without its challenges. As Gordon points out, the political landscape was dominated by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for much of the post-occupation period, raising questions about the effectiveness of the reforms in promoting political competition. Moreover, the purge of wartime leaders, intended to remove militarist influences, was inconsistently applied and eventually reversed. According to Dower, many purged officials were allowed to return to public life, and some even held high political office in the post-occupation government. This suggests a failure in fully achieving the goal of eradicating militarism from politics. In summary, while the political reforms of the Occupation Era were successful in establishing democratic institutions and practices, their effectiveness in promoting political competition and eradicating militarism was limited.

The second area of focus is the economic restructuring that took place during the Occupation Era. The Japanese economy was in ruins at the end of World War II, and the task of rebuilding it was a significant challenge. The Occupation authorities implemented a series of economic reforms aimed at dismantling the zaibatsu, the large family-controlled conglomerates that had dominated the pre-war economy, and promoting economic democratisation. According to Vande Walle, the zaibatsu dissolution program was initially successful in breaking up the major zaibatsu. However, the program was not fully implemented, and many zaibatsu were able to re-establish themselves in the form of keiretsu, or corporate groups, in the post-occupation period. This suggests a failure in achieving the goal of economic democratisation. The Occupation authorities also implemented land reform, which was arguably one of the most successful aspects of the economic restructuring. As noted by Havens, the land reform program redistributed land from landlords to tenant farmers, improving agricultural productivity and reducing rural poverty. The reform also had significant social and political implications, as it helped to undermine the power of the rural elite and promote the growth of a middle class.

Continuing with the economic restructuring, the Occupation authorities also introduced labour reforms aimed at improving working conditions and promoting workers' rights. These reforms included the recognition of the right to organise and bargain collectively, and the establishment of minimum wage and maximum working hour regulations. According to Tsuru, these labour reforms were successful in empowering workers and improving labour standards. However, the reforms also faced resistance from business interests, and some of the gains made by workers were rolled back in the post-occupation period. Another significant aspect of the economic restructuring was the introduction of economic planning. The Occupation authorities established the Economic Stabilization Board in 1946 to oversee economic recovery and development. As noted by Nakamura, the board played a crucial role in stabilising the economy and laying the groundwork for Japan's post-war economic miracle. However, the economic recovery was not without its challenges. As Dower points out, the Occupation Era was marked by economic hardship, with widespread unemployment, inflation, and food shortages. The situation improved only towards the end of the occupation, with the onset of the Korean War, which stimulated demand for Japanese goods and services. In summary, the economic restructuring of the Occupation Era had mixed results. While there were successes in land reform and labour rights, the goals of economic democratisation and economic recovery were only partially achieved.

The third area of focus is the social changes that occurred during the Occupation Era. The Occupation authorities sought to democratise Japanese society by promoting social equality and individual rights. They implemented a series of social reforms, including education reform, women's rights, and freedom of expression. The education reform, as described by Beauchamp, was aimed at democratising the education system and promoting critical thinking. The Occupation authorities revised the curriculum, abolished the militaristic and nationalist elements of pre-war education, and introduced the 6-3-3-4 system (six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of high school, and four years of university). However, the education reform faced resistance from conservative elements within Japanese society. According to Cummings, the reform was criticised for being too Americanised and for undermining Japanese traditions and values. Despite these criticisms, the reform had a lasting impact on Japanese education and contributed to the development of a highly educated workforce, which played a crucial role in Japan's post-war economic success.

Continuing with the social changes, the Occupation Era saw significant concessions towards women. The new constitution guaranteed gender equality and women's suffrage, and the 1947 Civil Code reform abolished the traditional family system and granted women legal equality in matters of marriage and divorce. Molony argues that these reforms were revolutionary in promoting women's rights and changing gender relations in Japanese society. However, the reforms faced resistance from conservative elements, and gender equality was not fully realised in practice. As Uno points out, women continued to face discrimination in the workplace and in society at large, suggesting a gap between the legal reforms and social reality. Freedom of expression was another area of social change during the Occupation Era. The Occupation authorities abolished pre-war censorship and promoted freedom of the press. According to De Lange, this led to a flourishing of the media and the arts, and contributed to the development of a vibrant civil society. However, the freedom of expression was not absolute, as the Occupation authorities themselves imposed censorship on certain topics, such as criticism of the occupation and the emperor. In summary, the social changes of the Occupation Era were transformative in many respects, but they also faced resistance and limitations. The reforms in education, women's rights, and freedom of expression had a lasting impact on Japanese society, but they also highlighted the challenges of social change in a deeply conservative society.

The Occupation Era in Japan from 1945 to 1952 was a period of profound transformation. The governments of this period, under the guidance of the Allied Occupation, implemented a series of political, economic, and social reforms aimed at demilitarising and democratising Japan. The political reforms, including the new constitution and the establishment of democratic institutions, were successful in transforming Japan into a democratic state. However, the effectiveness of these reforms in promoting political competition and eradicating militarism was limited. The economic restructuring had mixed results. While there were successes in land reform and labour rights, the goals of economic democratisation and economic recovery were only partially achieved. The social changes were transformative in many respects, but they also faced resistance and limitations. In conclusion, the governments of the Occupation Era in Japan had significant successes in implementing reforms and transforming Japanese society. However, these successes were not without their failures and limitations. The legacy of this period continues to shape Japan's political, economic, and social landscape, reflecting the enduring impact of the reforms and the challenges of change.