World War II Aftermath: American Occupation of Japan--Inter-Personal Relations

Figure 1.--Here we see an American sailor in October 1945, only a month into the occupation. Rather than raping women and bayonetting babies as the Japanese people were told, he is handing out lollypops in which the little boy is really interesting.

Very few Japanese people before the Pacific War had ever seen an American, except in the movies. And the number which had a personal relastionship with an American was miniscule. The Japanese people had no idea wasto expect after the Emperor announced that they were forced to surrender to the Americans. They had been told that the Americans were vicious monsters. That they would rape women and kill children. Civilians including children were being trained to resist the Americans to death. Now they were told that they had to surrender. They were never told what their soldiers had been doing in the countries that Japan occupied, nor do most Japanese fully understand this even today. The Japanese people based on what they were told about the Americans during the War were justfiably apprehensive. What occurred was nothing like they hadbeen ledto expect. At first the streets were largely deserted, people stayed in their homes, peering out the windows. he Americans behaved, however, not only correctly, but humanely. The children especially the boys were often the first to tentavily venture out and make contact, first out of curiosity. This is reflected in the photographic record. Then because they soon found out that candy was on offer. And candy was something that had disappeared from Japan during the War. What ensued was a form of culture shock, both for the Japasnese and the Americans. Because of the disaster that the military had brought on Japan, the people were unusually open to new ideas. Suddenly all things America were popular. Given the intensity and barbarity of the Pacific War, this was something that no one had anticipated. The Americans insisisted on economic and political reforms, but not on the adoption of American culture. This the Japanese eagerly adopted on their, but without letting go of their own rich cultutal heritage. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) orderedan official non-fraternization policy, primarily aimed at contact with women. American sevicemen were forbidden from soliciting Japanese prostitutes and impediments were instituted to marrying Japanese women. After 4 years, SCAP issued a new pro-fraternization (1949). Subsequently the U.S. Congress passed the McCarran-Walter Act (1952). It permitted Japanese spouses of occupation personnel to immigrate to the United States. Some 50,000 Japanese women immigrated to the United States as war brides (1937-65). [Douglas, 2013.]


Douglas, E. Sleeping with the Enemy: Japanese War Brides and the American Occupation of Japan (2013), 96p.


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Created: 10:41 AM 2/11/2019
Last updated: 10:41 AM 2/11/2019