Military History Q&A Series Q20

Brett’s Question: We took a similar stance w/ Japan (as Germany) at the end of the war? In other words we went very easy on them, set them up for stability, etc?

Justin’s Answer:
Yes and No; it depends.
On the one hand, there was a war crimes tribunal: the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and they punished Japanese commanders for war crimes as well.



There was censorship in the Japanese media, banning criticisms of the western policies. The previous pro-war cabinet was disbanded and new pro-western politicians put in place. A new Japanese constitution specifically renouncing militarism was enacted.
On the other hand, Japan got a similar economic package too. Roads were rebuilt, medicines and foods were distributed quickly, and preventing poverty related diseases was top.

After_World_War_2 (40)
Perhaps the biggest difference between GER and JP is due to the head of state. In GER under Hitler, the Head of State / Head of Government were rolled into one person. In Japan, the Emperor is technically the head of state but not the head of government. Nevertheless, the Emperor is a powerful spiritual and societal figurehead. The head of GOV is the PM. What the US did was carefully preserve the Imperial family and allow them to stay in place while culling the government ministers responsible for the war. The US realized that taking away the Japanese Emperor would cause more problems than leaving him in place even though he could have been complicit in the war.


Policy questions:
What did the Emperor actually know and agree to?
What did the people think the Emperor knew?
What did the government do in the Emperor’s name but the man himself was ignorant?
It became Allied policy to allow defendants to blame everyone but the Emperor. This was controversial but in hindsight perhaps made sense. It was from a much friendly Japan that allowed US to stage to retake Korea in June 1950.


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