June 7, 1950 – Coming up on 5 years since American forces began occupying Japan. Five years since Gen. MacArthur took charge of the revamping and reconstruction of Japan – reshaped the day to day, the social structure and even the politics of the old Japan, the Japan which took a Royalist/nationalist/militarist turn starting in 1937.
It was the occupation and MacArthur’s oversight of Japanese society which brought about the enormous changes forever epitomizing the adjustment of Japan to a peaceful, democratic, modern and productive nation.
In this report, given by CBS News Far East Correspondent Robert Martin, he gives a detailed account of those changes Japan was undergoing and how they were working out, some five years later and the potential warning signs of this new Cold War era.
MacArthur’s first job was to disarm and de-militarize Japan. Then, he had re-written Japan’s constitution, making it clear Japan no longer had the right to wage war or maintain any military force – that professional officers were barred from public office and certain types of work. He had purged the ultra-nationalists who had tried to carve out an empire by force. Military training was banned, even the Japanese Police were stripped of their weapons. Army and Navy officers retired or became laborers. The Ultra-nationalists became labor bosses, or went into business.
But with the Cold War and an aggressive Communist Party in Japan, those strict occupation controls were now starting to be relaxed, and most Americans lost interest in keeping close watch on the former officers. Calls for Japan to be given an Army in order to defend themselves against Communist aggression were coming from no less than Commanding General of the American 8th Army Bob Eichelberger, who himself was responsible for a number Japanese defeats during the War. They were welcome words for the old militarists who had scorned the brand of democracy being introduced by MacArthur. They respected American Military strength and had, over the years come to view America as a great and good friend.
The fervent Anti-Communist rhetoric was viewed by many in Tokyo as only a means to an end – the end being a return to an extreme Right wing government and the building of a strong military.
The post-war reconstruction and emerging New Japan became a hotbed of new political parties, all vying for seats of power under the guise of the Cold War atmosphere.
The report is an interesting one in that it outlines much of how the Post-War intentions were modified by the Cold War realities. And equally ironic in that, only days later, we were plunged into the Korean War and the conversation changed radically.
In this 20 minute report, much is covered – but the bottom line was, Japan under occupation would be coming to an end eventually, and a new Japan was bound to emerge – what that was going to look like was cause for much speculation on this June 7th in 1950.