- The Good Occupation
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- by Ramseyer, J. Mark; Miwa, Yoshiro
- Many Americans picture the Allied (i.e., U.S.) Occupation of Japan
(1945-52) as the quintessentially good occupation: elaborately planned in advance,
idealistically administered until derailed by anti-Communist indeologues in its later
years, it laid the foundation for Japan’s post-War democracy and prosperity. In fact, the
Americans—especially those Americans celebrated as most "idealist"—did not plan a
Japanese recovery, and for the first several years did not work for one. Instead, they
mostly just planned retribution: whom to hang, and which firms to shutter. Economic
issues they entrusted to Japanese bureaucrats, and those bureaucrats merely manipulated
the controls they had used to disastrous effect during the War. Coming from a New Deal
background in Washington, the Americans enthusiastically urged them on.
Although the Japanese economy did grow, it did not grow because of the
Occupation. It grew in spite of it. In early 1949, Japanese voters overwhelmingly
rejected the political parties offering economic controls. In their stead, they elected
center-right politicians offering a non-interventionist platform. These politicians then
dismantled the controls, and (despite strong opposition from New Deal bureaucrats in the
Occupation) imposed a largely non-interventionist framework. As a result of that choice—and not as result of anything the Occupation did—the Japanese economy grew.
- Publication Type: WCFIA Working Paper
- Published Date: May 2005
- Field of Interest: Global Issues
- Ramseyer, Mark, and Yoshiro Miwa. "The Good Occupation." Working Paper 2008-0098, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, May 2005.
- Also John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business, Working Paper no. 514.