March 17, 1947 – Tight Lips And Empty Pockets – East-West Diplomacy – A Call To End Occupation
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News for this St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) in 1947 had just about everything to do with the state of the World after War.
The grumblings of East-West tensions and speculations over a rumored private meeting between Secretary of State Marshall and Soviet Premier Stalin was high on the list of diplomatic discussions around the world. Not far behind were developments in Greece and Turkey and speculations of a brewing hot-spot in withering Moscow-Washington relations was rife. Diplomacy was an imperitive.
Word from General MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo indicated MacArthur was calling for an immediate end to U.S. occupation and that the U.S. presence needed to be replaced by the United Nations immediately. At a news conference, MacArthur said the Military occupation was over and that Japan’s armed forces were disarmed and no longer posed any sort of threat to peace anywhere. As for a political presence, MacArthur was quoted as saying Japan had gone just about as far as it could under the occupation and now it was time for the democratic process to take over. As for the Economic situation in Japan, MacArthur felt it was time to end the blockade of goods imposed by the the occupation, saying the restrictions imposed were more stringent than they were prior to the War, and that the Allied powers were strangling Japan and that Foreign trade needed to be released from Military control, in order for Japan to become a democratic nation. MacArthur also advocated a quick peace treaty with Japan, regardless of what happens in Europe.
On this particular day, and aside from diplomacy and the Cold War, weather was the big issue in Britain, with reports of a Hurricane battering parts of England with flooding and power and communications outages over a large portion of the country. Winds clocked at over 100 mph toppled trees and telephone poles, along with widespread collapse of buildings. At last count, there were some 10,000 marooned families awaiting rescue from the storm’s aftermath. Reports that the Thames had reached and surpassed its previous flood level of 1894 were adding to the woes. Weather reports were not optimistic – even though the sun was reportedly making an appearance in places – the prediction was for more Hurricane force winds.
Meanwhile, at home – a new plan for Rent Controls was being considered on Capitol Hill. It was promising to be a contentious battle, beginning with a proposal to take all controls off the Building industry. Fueling speculation was news of a leaked report that predicted housing starts would be far below the target of 1 million, and that the best it was going to be was possibly 825,000 housing starts, even with full Federal money help and controls. There was also talk of removing controls on rents for new houses and apartments. And the housing shortage wasn’t going away anytime soon.