Why did the Japanese accept American occupation so easily?

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richardrli
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Why did the Japanese accept American occupation so easily?

Post by richardrli » 03 Nov 2004 08:51

One thing that always amazes me is that when Japan surrendered, they accepted the Americans so willingly, I mean Japan is an Asian country and they're proud of their history. They hated western influence prior to the war and always took themselves as the pride of the Asian race, ready to stand up to western aggression, it seems strange that they even welcomed the Americans at the end. OK I know they lost the war and that but it's still weird?!

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 03 Nov 2004 11:32

I'm no expert on this matter but I believe that the co-operation of the Emperor had a lot to do with this compliance in regards to a relatively peaceful occupation. His word was enough for the vast majority of the popn.

Abu El Banat

richardrli
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Post by richardrli » 03 Nov 2004 12:16

But my question stands, why were the Japanese willing to give up important aspects of their culture to take in American, a lot of what you see in Japan is American and that is mainly the result of the occupation. I doubt a country like China would comply so readily.

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Post by Goldfish » 03 Nov 2004 13:49

A lot of what you see here in Japan is American in influence, but a lot of it is not, and not all of the American influence happened all at once or after the war. Baseball, for example, like basketball and other American sports, was introduced by Japanese studying abroad during the decades before the war. TV dinner cuisine, hamburger steaks in demi-glace sauce etc., and curry rice (from England) were introduced in the 1950's and 1960's. Many other aspects of American influence have been adopted (and sometimes abandoned) in Japan as they have been in many other countries never occupied by the United States in the last thirty years. Since WWII, as the US has grown in prominance and influence, Japan adopted what was needed, as they have always done.

It must also be remembered that many aspects of WWII Japan were very recent phenomenons. Prior to the Meiji Emperor, Japan's emperors had not possessed real power in centuries, state Shinto did not grow in prominance until the Taisho era, and the kind of militarism seen in WWII really began in the early Showa era. As a result, these were easy to discard (consider that, during the Meiji era, Japan had abandoned hundreds of years of samurai rule and tradition because it no longer suited Japan). Japan's ruling elites had been thoroughly discredited by defeat and the destruction of the country and that made many Japanese eager for change. One aspect of occupation-era Japan that took the Americans by surprise was the emergence of a strong labor movement and a popular, well-organized communist movement. Also, there was a lot of unexpected anti-Emperor sentiment that the US actually helped suppress. Those who wanted a return to a pre-war system when the occupation ended found themselves stymied by new political parties and politicians freed from the wartime shackles of the military regime. So, in many cases, the US occupation freed forces already at work in Japan and gave them free reign to remake Japan, though not exactly in America's image.

Two good books to read on the subject are John W. Dower's "Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II" and Herbert Bix' "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan."

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Post by JamesL » 04 Nov 2004 02:01

Being with the Occupation Forces in Tokyo, my father found the Japanese people to be very docile. Maybe the people were suffering from a form a shell shock.

Once, while walking with a buddy down the sidewalk, he came upon a Japanese officer. The officer stepped aside to allow the 2 American sailors to pass. There was no apparent resentment.

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 04 Nov 2004 11:04

It's a national character of Japanese: absorb excellence of anyone stronger. When Tang Dynasty was strong, they learned things from China. When British Empire and Kaiserreich were strong, they studied British navy and German army. They also respect people who win over them, instead of be hostile of them. For example, royal navy warships bombed shore batteries of Satsuma Han (feudal seigniory) in 1863 (the Anglo-Satsuma War) then the seignior of Satsuma Han, Shimadzu family, became one of the most famous Anglomaniacs in Japan after the war.

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 04 Nov 2004 11:07

Goldfish, I read that Japanese had curry rice before the 1950s, during WWII, the word "curry rice" was forced to change into "rice with spicy juice", for the word "curry" or “kare” in Japanese was "come from enemy's language".

regards
Last edited by Windward on 04 Nov 2004 15:51, edited 1 time in total.

richardrli
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Post by richardrli » 04 Nov 2004 11:20

Windward, are you Chinese?

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 04 Nov 2004 15:48

richardrli wrote:Windward, are you Chinese?
yep. :wink:

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Post by Goldfish » 04 Nov 2004 22:51

Windward wrote:
Goldfish, I read that Japanese had curry rice before the 1950s, during WWII, the word "curry rice" was forced to change into "rice with spicy juice", for the word "curry" or “kare” in Japanese was "come from enemy's language".

regards
Possibly. I had heard that it came in with Japan's TV dinner mania of the 1950's, but it could easily have been earlier due to the contact with the English and their curry. Maybe it is the current, instant, version that dates from the 50's.

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Post by richardrli » 05 Nov 2004 11:24

What was the nature of the occupation like? For example were the Japanese allowed to keep their state religion and other things?

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13thredarmy
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Post by 13thredarmy » 05 Nov 2004 14:43

Another reason for Japanese acceptance of American occupation was that they were seen as having saved them from an even worse and unthinkable fate (or at least being the lesser of 2 evils) - defeat and occupation by the Soviet Union !

Many historians theorise that the real breaker of Japanese will to continue the war was not the A-bombs but the entry into the war of SU and the threat of social revolution they threatened.

The fear of social disorder in Japan even today cannot be under estimated.

One of the most lasting results of US occupation of Japan was their active suppression of communist (indeed ANY left-wing) groups and trade unions.

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Post by Windward » 06 Nov 2004 14:53

richardrli wrote:What was the nature of the occupation like? For example were the Japanese allowed to keep their state religion and other things?
They can keep Shinto, but not as a state religion, it means government can't give Shinto shrines financial support again and Japanese pupils no longer need to learn Shinto fairy tales in their history class. Japanese schools were forbidden to teach students about "Tenno and his family are descendants of Gods" or "Japanese folk is inherently superior to other folks". Free press, but no communist or Shinto propaganda. Imperial property (palaces, buildings, estates, lakes, forests, spas, beaches, investment, antiques, artwork collection, estimated 3,715,620,000 yen in 1946, roughly 1.8 billion dollars at that time) were confiscated except 1% to 2% of them, mostly stocks, bonds, jewelry and cash. Only 3 of 12 princes were kept, other princes became civilian. Noble class of Japan was totally destroyed, dukes, marquises, counts and barons, all became the common people, and the new tax on property seizured most of their peoperty. I said Japanese are glad to learn from their conquerers, so "democracy" became a fashionable and popular brand new thing among Japanese people, as "chewing gum", "lucky strike", "coca cola" and all other American things.

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Post by Goldfish » 06 Nov 2004 15:18

13thredarmy wrote:
One of the most lasting results of US occupation of Japan was their active suppression of communist (indeed ANY left-wing) groups and trade unions.
Actually, Japan has a very active communist party that has little power but joins with other left-wing parties in coalitions from time to time.
They are no longer a revolutionary party, however, like in the old days of the Japanese Red Army.

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Psycho Mike
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Post by Psycho Mike » 06 Nov 2004 18:09

I think the main reason was that because they lost and had shame, they felt they were being punished!

I lived in Japan in the 1950's and later heard the stories my mother who had been in the Navy before I was born told me of the occupation .

Douglas McArthur, who was no economist asked what the word Yen meant. He was told it meant circle. Since a circle has 360 degrees he devalued Japanese money by that much and the savings people had were suddenly rendered worthless. NO ONE COMPLAINED.

They accepted it as punishment!

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