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Chapter 3 Planning and Organizing the Occupation
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Chapter 3
Planning and Organizing the Occupation

The occupation of Japan was the largest foreign policy operation in the history of the United States in its duration, the number of Americans involved, and the tremendous authority they wielded. Washington made the basic plans and preparations; the organization and implementing actions were largely the handiwork of General MacArthur and his staff. The Japanese had not made any advance plans to be occupied—the very word senryo (occupation) was for some time taboo—but they proved to be quick and clever improvisers.

Several features of the plans for the occupation were significant. The planning was almost entirely the work of Americans. Its purpose was to reform and punish Japan, not to help rebuild it or make it an ally. The planning ignored the problems of how the Japanese were to feed themselves and revive production of consumer goods, let alone rebuild their industrial machine. It paid no attention to what was going on in the world around Japan and seemed to assume that Japan would have only a modest and unimportant international role. It presupposed that Nationalist China would be a major power in Asia and the most important U.S. ally in the region. It also assumed that the Soviet Union would follow cooperative policies. It said nothing about Korea or Taiwan or Okinawa. Pax Americana, as Washington saw Asia in 1945, seemed to be based on short-term, localized, and sometimes ill-conceived policies.

MacArthur played almost no role in planning these policies. He read about the Potsdam Declaration in the newspapers. He did not know about the atomic bomb until a few days before it was dropped on


Hiroshima. But as a self-assured officer with long experience at senior levels of military command and as the obvious choice for the top job in Japan, he felt no qualms about his new eminence. For a time the United Kingdom questioned whether his mission was simply to receive Japan's surrender on behalf of the Allied powers or to go ahead and implement the surrender terms. This doubt soon faded. The supreme commander remained and his authority grew.[1]

The general came to consider himself an international officer responsible not only to the U.S. government but to all the major Allied nations. In fact, he received 111 directives during the occupation, of which 60 were decisions by the Allied powers and the rest actions by the United States.[2] Many of the early U.S. plans he received were the work of academic and diplomatic experts who knew Japan well and had been able to avoid the pressure for draconian solutions that planners for Germany experienced.

The most concise summary of U.S. plans was composed by MacArthur himself. "From the moment of my appointment," he later wrote in his memoirs, "I had formulated the policies I intended to follow, implementing them through the Emperor and the machinery of the imperial government." Flying in to Japan on August 30 a few hours after he had received from Washington the text of the initial policy he was to carry out, he paraphrased the actions he was to take:

First, destroy the military power. Punish war criminals. Build the structure of representative government. Modernize the constitution. Hold free elections. Enfranchise the women. Release the political prisoners. Liberate the farmers. Establish a free labor movement. Encourage a free economy. Abolish police oppression. Develop a free and responsible press. Liberalize education. Decentralize political power. Separate the church from state.[3]

This was MacArthur's recipe for making the new Japan: a summary of the U.S. policy paper he had just received from Washington. Several of his goals, such as suffrage for women, liberation of farmers, and political decentralization, went beyond the Washington guidance. He did not mention reparations. MacArthur's formulations showed his direct approach to policy issues: long and complex analyses were not his style, and he left them to the staff to wrestle with.

The most significant policy statements he received were the Potsdam Declaration and two papers prepared by the United States—the initial policy statement and a basic postsurrender directive. These three documents gave MacArthur a lot of policy, more in fact than he wanted.

The Potsdam Declaration provided the fundamental statement.


Based on an original draft by the State Department with a few emendations by British officials, it was drafted for the most part in the Pentagon. In thirteen short paragraphs the declaration set out in sweeping language the "terms" the Allies would impose: unconditional surrender and disarmament of Japan's armed forces, punishment of war criminals, payment of reparations, limitation of Japan's territory, "strengthening of democratic tendencies," and a peacefully inclined and responsible government established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people. The occupation would end when these goals were attained.[4]

An early version of the declaration contained a provision allowing the Japanese to retain the monarchy if it was suitably reformed, but this was dropped when American leaders could not agree on it.[5] Even so, Japanese diplomats drew some reassurance because the Allies had gone on record stating that "the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government ... shall be subject to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers," thus meeting, at least for the time being, Japan's one condition for surrender—retention of the emperor. Moreover, Japanese experts were confident that if given the choice, the people would certainly choose to keep the imperial institution.[6]

The second key document was the "Initial United States Post-Surrender Policy," approved by President Truman on September 6, 1945. In mid-August John J. McCloy, the assistant secretary of war, who had been the principal redrafter of the Potsdam Declaration only a few weeks earlier, produced a draft of the initial policy by hastily revising a much longer policy draft to align it with the Potsdam statement. The initial policy set out many general goals, such as demilitarization, freedom of religion, creation of democratic political parties, and protection of civil rights. It provided more specifically for three major reforms. First, "active exponents of militarism and militant nationalism" were to be excluded from public office or responsible private positions; this was the basis for a later "purge" of top officials. Second, "organizations in labor, industry and agriculture organized on a democratic basis" were to be favored; this authorized support of a free labor movement. Third, "a program for the dissolution of the large industrial and banking combinations which have exercised control of a great part of Japan's trade and industry" was to be favored; this aimed at the notorious zaibatsu and their banks. Another key clause stated that' U.S. policy would be to use the Japanese government, not support it.[7]

A significant provision that reflected the liberal trend of some postwar thinking in Washington stated that "changes in the form of govern-


ment initiated by the Japanese people or government in the direction of modifying its feudal or authoritarian tendencies are to be permitted and favored." If force had to be used to make these changes, "the Supreme Commander should intervene only where necessary to ensure the security of his forces" and the attainment of all his other objectives. MacArthur was shocked by this wording, which seemed dose to an invitation to violence.[8]

The United States was the only Allied power to engage in detailed planning for postwar Japan. When British policymakers were shown an earlier draft of the initial U.S. policy, they commented that a large and direct occupation, which might be expensive and risky, could be avoided if the Allied powers applied external controls to Japan's trade and foreign relations and confined themselves to occupying easily held key points and putting on occasional demonstrations of military power. These were the views of Sir George Sansom, probably the outstanding authority in the West on Japanese history. He thought sweeping reforms were not needed and that only a few changes in basic institutions would be required to convert Japan into an acceptably democratic state. This was far from what U.S. policymakers had in mind.[9]

When the initial policy was made public on September 22, 1945, U.S. public opinion seemed to welcome it. The British Foreign Office commented that the economic provisions went much farther than the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. The Japanese were reported to be "aghast." Nevertheless, the Japanese government decided to wait and see. Yoshida commented later that the policy's "objectives were, in essence, our own from the moment the war had ended."[10]

The policy paper was formally approved with minor changes one and one-half years later by the eleven-nation Far Eastern Commission (FEC), formed in 1946 to make Allied policy for Japan. Before submitting the paper to the commission, the State Department discreetly deleted a provision that the policies of the United States would govern in case of differences among the Allies. MacArthur praised the commission, for which he had scant respect, for producing this "great state paper,"[11] which the FEC entitled "Basic Post-Surrender Policy for Japan."

The third key policy document was the "Basic Directive for Post-Surrender Military Government in Japan Proper" sent to MacArthur on November 3, 1945. This was the longer, more detailed paper from which the initial policy had been cloned in mid-August. When MacArthur saw a version of the new directive in early September, he pro-


tested that it was a "rigid and stringent directive...which all but removed from him the detailed method of execution of the mission which has been assigned to the Supreme Commander." He thought it was "in certain respects far beyond the principles set forth in the surrender terms and the Potsdam Declaration" and "would require a much greater force for a greater length of time than is now contemplated."[12]

The War Department hastily replied that the directive "was primarily the concern of the State Department" but could be construed merely as guidance for MacArthur, who could recommend changes and exercise "reasonable latitude" in executing it. Guidance rather than direc-tive had become the standard way for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to deal with MacArthur during the occupation, an approach that reflected Washington's special deference to the Far Eastern commander. The State Department considered the directive something the War Department wanted so that people in the field would know exactly what they were supposed to do.[13]

The basic directive was an interagency document that had not been submitted to the president or the FEC. In structure and some wording it was similar to the famous JCS 1067, the governing statement of policy for the occupation of Germany that reflected the drastic Morgenthau concept of severely limiting the level of the losing nation's industrial production.[14] The directive for Japan was three times as long as the more authoritative initial policy and contained some severe and punitive provisions, especially in the economic field:

—The supreme commander would "not assume any responsibility for the economic rehabilitation of Japan or for the strengthening of the Japanese economy." Helping the economy would not be a task of the victors. This became the best known of all provisions in the basic direc-tive, especially in Japan.

—Strikes would be prohibited only when the supreme commander considered they would interfere with military operations or directly endanger the occupation forces. This was another provision intended to give democratic forces freer rein. MacArthur and his staff prohibited several strikes during the occupation, but they did not cite this provision as the basis of their action.

—The supreme commander could import supplies only to supplement local resources and only when needed to "prevent such widespread disease or civil unrest as would endanger the occupation forces or interfere with military operations." This provision, also contained in


JCS 1067 for Germany, authorized import of food and raw materials to combat starvation and, eventually, to enable industry to get started up.

Despite MacArthur's misgivings, the basic directire became an important fount of policy for SCAP. One enthusiastic liberal on the staff asserted that the directive provided the authority to put the principles of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal into effect in Japan.[15] In fact, U.S. planning for Japan went far beyond the New Deal, especially its provisions for radical reform of political and social institutions, not to mention its stern demands for punishing war criminals and purging nationalist leaders. The Japanese did not see the basic directive until 1949, when it was released for publication in the massive study on Japan's "political reorientation" by the Government Section (GS) of SCAP.

These American policy papers drew on many sources, including the Bill of Rights, trust-busting legislation, New Deal social programs, and several state constitutions. Added to these were the traditional powers of victors to destroy the enemy war machine, exact reparations, punish war criminals, and remove political leaders. Washington guidance was strangely silent on several key points: How extensive the "purge" of public officials should be? What kind of changes should be made in the constitution? Should Japan be permanently disarmed? How should "large industrial and banking combinations" be defined? Enfranchisement of women and land reform were not mentioned. In the economic field the supreme commander was told to make extensive reforms, but he was not told how to keep the badly battered Japanese economy afloat or feed the people, problems that he was soon to face.

MacArthur was not a man to want much guidance from his nominal superiors. He once commented in the early days of the occupation that it had been impossible during the war to obtain any clarification of the basic policies he received from Washington, and as a result he had found it necessary to improvise. The general indicated he himself would therefore interpret general policies such as the Potsdam Declaration, "which is broad and capable of varied interpretation."[16]

Contrasting sharply with the massive U.S. planning effort was the Japanese preoccupation with the present and the immediate future. During the war Japanese diplomatic planners had studied American policy statements, especially the Potsdam Declaration. Additional planning was undertaken by government and academic economic experts, who examined matters such as Allied reparations policy and the Bretton Woods monetary arrangements worked out by the Western powers in


early 1945. The Japanese were particularly anxious to figure out the economic implications of possible limitations on Japan's standard of living.[17]

One man who had some ideas about what to do was Yoshida Shigeru. On August 27, 1945, twelve days after the emperor's historic broadcast and the day before the first Americans were to arrive, he dashed off a couple of notes to an old friend, Kurusu Saburo, who had been in Washington as a special emissary at the time of Pearl Harbor. Yoshida started his note with a sentence in English: "If the devil has a son, surely he is Tojo. "Tojo was no doubt the most unpopular man in Japan at that point, and Yoshida was suspicious of most military men. Yoshida sketched a hopeful blueprint. "The way we have accepted defeat is a performance without parallel anywhere. Now we should apply all our efforts to rebuilding our empire. The cancer of militarist policies must be cut out. Political activity must be reformed. Public morals [must be] promoted. Our diplomacy will have to be totally recast." He then optimistically forecast, "The business world will be improved not only by the advancement of science but also by inviting in American capital." His final words were that he had been reading the English historian G. M. Trevelyan and was filled with admiration for the way British leaders had rebuilt their nation in the nineteenth century' after the loss of the American colonies and the long wars against Napoleon.[18]

Organizing for the occupation was a major task for both Americans and Japanese in the month of September. Running big military operations was one of the supreme commander's strong points. General Dwight Eisenhower, who served under MacArthur in the Philippines for four years, said later he was "deeply grateful for the administrative experience he gained under General MacArthur," without which he did not believe he "would have been ready for the great responsibilities of the war period."[19]

Along with organizing his staff, MacArthur felt it was essential to start disarming Japan's forces and forestall any threat of dissidence. On October 4, 1945, in a meeting with Karl T. Compton, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MacArthur said that he wanted to establish his control in Japan within thirty days, before armed guerrilla bands started operating in the mountains. Although there had been a few reports of the existence of dissident groups, MacArthur wanted to hold off taking actions that might be seriously disruptive—for example, a purge of wartime leaders. He also rebuffed an invitation from Presi-


dent Truman to return to Washington for a victory parade in his honor, citing the "extraordinarily dangerous...situation" in Japan.[20]

SCAP had given the Japanese responsibility for demobilizing their armed forces. Huge amounts of military materiel were destroyed, and military production facilities were set aside for reparations to be awarded later to the Allied powers after they agreed on how war material should be divided up. On October 16, 1945, MacArthur announced that Japan's armed forces "are now completely abolished....Approximately seven million armed men...have laid down their weapons. In the accomplishment of the extremely difficult and dangerous surrender in Japan, unique in the annals of history, not a shot was necessary, not a drop of Allied blood was shed."[21] Without doubt, the demobilization of all Japanese forces within two months of the surrender was a remarkable feat and powerful evidence of Japan's desire to carry out the surrender terms. Any threat of armed resistance had dissipated.

From the moment of surrender the occupation launched a barrage of orders to the government. During the eighty months of its life, SCAP issued some six thousand SCAPINs, or SCAP instructions, on an enormous range of matters, mostly small but on occasion monumental. Other instructions—letters, memoranda, and verbal orders—were also issued. The stream never stopped, but the early months produced the heaviest flow.

The general believed in clear and simple lines of control, leaving no one in doubt that he was the boss. He would permit no American or Allied activities in Japan that he did not control. At the outset, he set up two headquarters, one to control Japan (GHQ SCAP) and the other to command U.S. forces in the Far East (GHQ FEC). MacArthur felt that if an organization "is right at the top, it will be right at the bottom."[22]

GHQ SCAP had fifteen staff sections at its peak strength. The most influential were the Government Section, which dealt with the Diet and political matters; the Economic and Scientific Section (ESS); the Civil Information and Education Section (CIE), which handled education and religion; and G-2, which controlled intelligence and censorship.[23] At its peak strength GHQ SCAP numbered about 5,000 persons. MacArthur also commanded the Eighth Army under Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger in Yokohama and the Sixth Army under General Walter Krueger in Kyoto. At the outset the two armies each had about 230,000 troops. The Sixth Army was disbanded at the end of the year, leaving the Eighth Army with about 200,000 troops. By the end of 1948 the Eighth Army numbered 117,580, including a small British


SCAP Organization Chart


Commonwealth contingent. Large military forces were never needed for the occupation of Japan.

The general held few staff meetings and saw very few members on his staff outside of section chiefs and staff aides. Those who had ready access were the chiefs of the important sections—GS, ESS, G-2, and the Diplomatic Section (DS), which dealt with foreign diplomats. The general saw a few outsiders fairly often, such as the British and Canadian ambassadors and a few American newsmen. He did not have a lot of meetings, perhaps three or four a day, and often they were quite lengthy.[24] MacArthur delegated freely to his section chiefs. He made decisions after reading a one-page abstract or summary prepared by staff officers on the basis of the often complex and lengthy memoranda submitted by the staff sections, as, for example, on the reorganization of the Yokohama Specie Bank. He was not one to delay or agonize over intricate problems. Press releases were important and were often issued in his name, even if he had little to do with the subject matter.

The occupation staff was short of people who had more than a passing knowledge of the country. Only two of MacArthur's section chiefs, William Sebald of DS and Lieutenant Colonel Donald R. Nugent (USMCR), the second chief of CIE and a former high school teacher, had had extensive prewar experience in Japan. Japanese-Americans, a number of whom were professionally trained, were almost all engaged in language work. Nevertheless, the occupation could boast of many persons well qualified in specialized fields.

MacArthur occupied a small office facing an inner court on the sixth floor of the Dai Ichi Insurance building. The occupation took over many office buildings in downtown Tokyo as well as many of the Western-style houses still standing in the city. At one point it had been suggested that Tokyo University might be requisitioned to serve as the headquarters for the occupation, but this idea was not pursued. The Japanese government paid to owners as "occupation costs" the cost of rentals and maintenance of buildings taken over by U.S. personnel. Japan paid more than $4 billion in occupation costs during the eighty months of the occupation; this was about twice as much as Japan received from the United States in economic assistance.[25]

Finding a role for the U.S. State Department was a knotty problem. State wanted a separate office that would handle international political and economic issues, as was the case in the American zone in Germany, but MacArthur insisted that the office be under his control. State finally yielded, and the staff of the political adviser, called POLAD, found a


niche serving as a sort of foreign office in SCAP. Later POLAD took on some political and economic responsibilities, but the role of the State Department was minor for most of the occupation.[26] Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson, a supporter of tough policies toward Japan, decided in 1945 that he did not want a "Japan hand" to head the Tokyo office and selected a China expert, George Atcheson, Jr., to be the first political adviser.

The organization of local U.S. military government teams posed another problem. Initially set up in fifty-three places around Japan to observe and assist in carrying out SCAP policies and consisting on an average of about fifty persons each, these teams were useful in keeping contact with local Japanese officials and even in helping the police ensure that rice collection quotas were filled and taxes paid, but many' teams were inadequately staffed and poorly informed of what the Tokyo headquarters was doing. In 1948 they were renamed civil affairs teams, and their operations were significantly reduced.

The Japanese had the daunting task of preparing themselves to deal with an administration whose purposes and methods they could only dimly fathom. But they plunged ahead resolutely. They set up a central liaison office (CLO) on August 22, 1945, at the request of MacArthur's headquarters in Manila, to serve as a channel between the occupation and the Japanese government.[27] The CLO had representatives from other agencies and established field offices all over Japan to match the American local government teams. These field offices were useful for placing unemployed officials from the Foreign Office, some of whom, such as Okazaki Katsuo and Asakai Koichiro, were later top diplomats. The head of the CLO's Yokohama office, Suzuki Tadakatsu, was especially valuable in his relations with General Eichelberger. Handling criminal incidents by Americans, particularly in the early days of the occupation, was a special test of the liaison system. The Japanese meticulously reported these cases, and the Americans investigated them with equal care, although they did not always prosecute suspects vigorously. Incidents continued throughout the occupation, some of them serious, but each side usually felt the other was acting in good faith. The occupation forces won much goodwill from the Japanese population for their friendly behavior. Former Imperial Army officers were impressed by the good conduct of American enlisted men. Recognizing the crucial importance of the CLO in keeping good relations with the occupation forces, Prime Minister Yoshida kept a firm grip on its operations until it was disbanded in 1948. By then SCAP sections were deal-


ing directly with their counterparts in the Japanese government and no longer needed a liaison agency.

To put occupation orders on a legal basis, the Japanese either passed enabling legislation or issued ordinances under the blanket authority of imperial ordinance no. 542 of September 20, 1945. This decree gave supralegal effect to occupation orders and imposed severe penalties on Japanese for violations. A total of 293 imperial ordinances (called cabinet ordinances after the new constitution went into effect in 1947) were issued during the occupation.[28]

The pressure exerted by the occupation led to the resignation of the caretaker Higashikuni cabinet on October 5, six days after MacArthur told the prime minister he saw no reason for a cabinet change. Installing an imperial prince as prime minister and for good measure making another prince from the old nobility the prime minister's deputy, neither of whom was able to make much headway with MacArthur or his staff, had clearly been a stopgap device that had run its course by early October.

The resourceful lord privy seal, Marquis Kido, decided that the new prime minister should be someone with a clean record and a diplomatic background. Yoshida said he did not even want to be considered. Baron Shidehara Kijuro, a former foreign minister known for his scholarly ability in English and his prewar advocacy of "peaceful diplomacy," was chosen. Shidehara was seventy-five and had been out of the public eye for ten years. Some even asked, "Isn't Shidehara dead?" He told the emperor he had no confidence he would be adequate as prime minister, and the emperor replied, "Who has confidence under today's conditions?" The only questions MacArthur asked Foreign Minister Yoshida about Shidehara were how old he was and if he spoke English.[29]

On October 9 the Shidehara cabinet was installed and included Yoshida as foreign minister. George Atcheson, the political adviser, called it "mediocre." Shidehara was eager, despite his frail health and long absence from public life, not to be a passive agent of the occupation but rather to carry out some of the urgent tasks facing the nation. One of his first projects, to strengthen the police, was turned down by SCAP, which was not yet ready to deal with that sensitive issue.[30]

Yoshida, one of the activists in the cabinet, thought economic reconstruction should be Japan's number one goal. He enlisted the help of a number of specialists from business and academic circles with whom he met regularly for advice. Several of the country's outstanding economists helped him, including Okita Saburo, an electrical engineeer by


training who became a world-famous authority on economic development, and Tsuru Shigeto, a Harvard Ph.D. and later president of Hito-tsubashi University, Japan's equivalent of the London School of Economics. Several of these men, foreseeing the inevitable disaster, had met in secret even before the war ended to plan for the future.[31]

On October 11 Shidehara called on the supreme commander. One observer made the witty comment that new prime ministers now had to call on the supreme commander in addition to visiting the Grand Shrine at Ise. At the outset the general took the unusual step of first reading to Shidehara, and then giving him, a short paper listing five basic reforms MacArthur wanted instituted "as rapidly as they can be assimilated." Prefaced by the statement that unquestionably "liberalization of the constitution" would be necessary, the points listed were:

1. Give women the right to vote, which would make "government directly subservient to the well-being of the home."

2. Encourage labor unions and correct child-labor practices.

3. Institute a more liberal education to make clear that government is "the servant rather than the master of the people."

4. Eliminate practices "which through secret inquisition and abuse have held people in constant fear."

5. Promote "a wide distribution of income and ownership of the means of production and trade."

The selection of points and wording was MacArthur's own, probably with some staff help, and, except for the last point, was not taken from any instruction he had received from Washington. Presurrender planning had made no direct reference to women's suffrage and may have'. taken for granted that it was a basic policy goal. In Washington the State Department told the British ambassador it did not have the text of what MacArthur had given Shidehara.[32]

The prime minister said his government would try to carry out these policies. It was already taking steps to include women's suffrage in a new election law and was looking into some of the other points raised by the general. Encouragement of labor unions and "antitrust" action seemed to give Shidehara some concern, but he said his government would study them. He then commented that Japan had been on the road to a liberal and democratic state some years earlier, before a "malign influence was allowed to prevail." The principle of respecting the will of the people would emerge again but "in the shape of Japanese


democracy" and not like democracy in Western countries. MacArthur said he realized there had been an "interruption" in Japan and added that he wished the new government well. MacArthur's espousal of the "interruption" theory was somewhat at variance with his frequent characterization of prewar Japan as "feudal" and seemed to put him in the camp of those, such as Yoshida, who thought Japan had been on the road to democracy but had temporarily "stumbled."[33]

Nothing seems to have been said about the constitution, but there was almost surely a gap between the thinking of the supreme commander and that of the prime minister about how far constitutional revision should go. Nevertheless, two days later Shidehara appointed a special cabinet minister, Matsumoto Joji, to study the constitutional issue. At the emperor's request, Konoe was hard at work on the same problem. In early November two New York papers wrote editorials criticizing this "acceptance of Konoe as the man to lead Japan to democracy." SCAP quickly issued a press release denying any connection with Konoe and warned Atcheson not to have any further association with him. Konoe's connection with the occupation thus ended abruptly.[34]

The Shidehara cabinet, true to its word, went ahead with election reform. On December 15 the Diet passed a law giving the right to vote to all citizens older than twenty; this action more than doubled the electorate, which had been limited to males older than twenty-five. The law also increased the size of electoral districts, long an issue in Japanese politics. General MacArthur and his Government Section decided not to intervene in the Japanese legislative process, despite the strong SCAP propensity, especially in the early days of the occupation, to press for Japanese adoption of U.S. models. Paradoxically, the Japanese decided in 1947 to go back to the former system of medium-sized districts.[35]

By the fall of 1945 the political parties were busy getting organized. They tended to repeat the late prewar pattern of two large conservative parties and a scattering of smaller parties. The first to organize after the surrender was the Socialist Party, set up on November 2, which preferred to be known in English as the Social Democratic Party because this had a sweeter ring to American ears. Katayama Tetsu, a former Diet member and a prominent lawyer, was its leader. For the first time in Japanese history, the communists formed a legal party. They began to organize after their leaders were let out of prison in early October, with Tokuda Kyuichi and Shiga Yoshio in the vanguard. Early in 1946 another prominent figure, Nosaka Sanzo, returned from exile in China


to join the leadership. The communist newspaper Akabata , or "Red Flag," began publication on October 20, its daily circulation soon growing to six hundred thousand.[36]

The two large conservative parties had only barely discernible differences in doctrine. The head of the Liberal Party, which had 50 seats in the lower house, was the most skilled politician to emerge on the early postwar scene, Hatoyama Ichiro,withmore than thirty years of experience as a political leader. The Progressive Party, with 249 members, was the biggest in the "Tojo Diet" elected in 1942. By December 1945 thirty-five other political parties had declared their intention to participate in the forthcoming election.

The four major parties—Liberal, Progressive, Socialist, and Communist—all advocated in varying ways strict execution of the surrender terms, political and economic reform, and respect for individual rights. The liberals and progressives supported the emperor system, the socialists were silent on this score, and the communists advocated its abolition. The conservatives favored free economic enterprise, the socialists promoted a socialized and planned economy, and the communists wanted participation by the people in the management of industry and confiscation of idle agricultural land. Hatoyama spoke out strongly against communism.

The political pattern that emerged right after the war shaped the entire future of the Japanese system—strong conservative and centrist forces, with socialists to the left of center and communists to the far left. A two-party system never developed.


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