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Reverse Policy in Japan May 9, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in History, World Affairs.
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One month after the atomic bombings of Japan in August of 1945, MacAurther and his SCAP fellows arrived in Japan. The Japanese defeated wartime regime had spent the last month burning massive amounts of evidence of their repressive militarism. SCAP, stood for Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, and was the American occupying administration. SCAP’s two overall policies were democratization and demilitarization. In order to achieve the later, a new constitution was written and then effectuated in 1947. Instead of the militaristic, and totalitarian right-wing regime, America wanted one which was socially and politically liberal. Their new constitution resembled ours, guaranteeing voting rights to all, as well as freedoms of speech, press, and assembly. We freed communists and liberals whom the totalitarian regime had jailed.

This policy of supporting a liberal Japanese government lasted until the Cold War began. By 1949 China had fallen to communists, and tensions with the Soviets were rapidly increasing. In response, the United States began what is known as the “reverse policy.” SCAP then began jailing liberals and communists, eventually totaling in number to 17,000. The US assisted in the election of a conservative man who had ties to the militaristic and totalitarian regime of the 1940s. Communists were suppressed, freedoms were curtailed, all in response to the Cold War framework that was developing. This was the US policy until we “left” in 1952. This is just one example of the heavy-hand the US had in Japan ever since 1853 when Commodore Perry arrived with the US navy to force open Japan’s ports to US shipping and markets. The reverse policy is one of many when it comes to ironic episodes in the history of US foreign policy.

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