American-Japanese Relations and Post WWII Japan

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The Origin of the Nature of the Occupation of Japan
Christopher Watt

Word Count: 4 370 

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I would like to acknowledge the great help and support of Julius Mok, Cary Jin and James Bott for aiding the footnoting process and tirelessly proof reading my 'works-in-progress'. Also Harrison Jones and Joseph McDonald must be thanked for their 'critical' feedback that created the piece hereafter. Furthermore, the Extended Investigation Class of 2013 at Haileybury College and Dr. Andrew Viney for further support and formation of key argumentative aspects.

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My topic is to determine the nature of the United States Occupation of Japan from 1945-1951 and analyse the roots of U.S. foreign policy that shaped it. In this Extended Investigation I argue that the Occupation of Japan utilised American foreign policy from the 1930's to serve U.S. interests, thus shaping the overall nature. The primary U.S. policies evident in the 1930's decade that were updated and utilised by Americans during the occupation were, as follows, firstly, future financial security by creating a global capitalistic economy, focusing on an 'open-door' policy in China. This policy is evident during the occupation when SCAP reformed and disarmed the rural feudal system to create a more competitive agricultural sector, support the zaibatsu to increase production for a U.S. market and build a capitalistic hub in Asia. Secondly, the policy to maintain the status quo in America's sphere of influence, evident in the 1930's when the U.S. opposed Japanese military involvement in Asia and the Pacific, also evident during the occupation when a post for America to protect their Asian interests was created. Finally, the third policy effecting the occupation was to maintain dominance in their Japanese relationship, as such, creating an "American Style" democratic Japan allowing for a more compatible relationship on more American terms.

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The Pacific saw a bloody conflict followed by an occupation renowned for bringing affluence and stability. War manifested from a series of clashing Asian foreign policies between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan, resulting in "one of the best prepared and best conducted [occupations] in the history of warfare".1 Did the times of conflict immediately before, shape the well executed Allie occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951, or did the events of the 1930's and foreign policy in America and Japan create the occupation witnessed by the world? As such, to what extent did U.S. and Japanese foreign policy, from during the 1930's, affect the nature of Japan's occupation? This essay argues that foreign policy from the 1930's, in primarily the U.S. but also in Japan, was the source of the occupation's nature. This assertion is based on the fundamental goals of the Japanese occupation, being highly similar to U.S. policy goals during the 1930's.


Primarily, the Occupation of Japan was essentially shaped by three main American foreign policies in response to a single Japanese policy, all from the 1930's.2 Firstly, U.S. foreign policy emphasised future financial security by creating a global capitalistic economy, focusing on an 'open-door' policy in China.3 Secondly, maintaining the status quo in America's sphere of influence. Finally, the third U.S. policy effecting the occupation, was maintaining dominance in their Japanese relationship.4 In Japan, a rise in military power early in the 1930's saw policies surrounding a selfsufficient economy, resulting in an era of menacing China and undermining U.S. aims in Asia through military expansionism.5





This essay will break down how the occupation was carried out and highlight how its nature was shaped fundamentally by these major 1930's policies. This will be achieved by looking from the 1930's in both...
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