World War II Aftermath: American Occupation of Japan--the Japanese People

Figure 1.--Neither the Japanese or the Americans knew quite what to expect after the Emperor announced that Japan would surrender to the Americans. It proved to be a learning experience for both.

Most Japanese were stunded by the final year of the War and the massive destruction. There was also widespread hunger because the American destruction of the Japanese merchant fleet as well as the domestic transportation system made it impossible to import and distribute food. Many Japanese had been led to expect a brutal, if not genocidal American occupation. There were no Batan death marches, slave labor, or mass slaughters like the Rape of Nanking. The Japanese people were unaware as to just how brutal their military had been in other countries and how real attrocities involving millions of people were. The military knew, but not the civilians. I'm not sure just how seriously the Japanese people had taken the warnings of brutal Americans. The Germans certainly expected the Western Allies to behave with civility. I'm not sure to what extent the Japanese people expected this, They seem to have been widely accepted on Saipan and Okinawa. I'm not sure why this would have been different in Japan itself. I'm not sure to what extent, however, the Japanese were surprised at the conduct of the Americans. Perhaps readers know of some studies which have addressed this subject. Emperor Hirohito certainly was surprised at how the Americans treated him. The Americans for their part, after fighting bloody battles which got increasingly savage as the approsached the home island were not at all sure how they would be greeted when they landed in the Home Islands to begin the occupation.


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Created: 8:59 AM 11/9/2007
Last updated: 8:59 AM 11/9/2007