Election Central
Teacher"s Note: Please review the Preliminary task at the end of this reading. This task is designed come be done in course before students review "Bringing Democracy to Japan."

Bringing Democracy to Japan

To the Pacific container has come the vista the a brand-new emancipated world. Today, freedom is ~ above the offensive, democracy is top top the march.

You are watching: The new japanese constitution after world war ii contained a clause that

--Gen. Douglas MacArthur September 2, 1945

The Occupation

In July 1945, shortly after Germany had surrendered, the Allied leaders met in ~ Potsdam near Berlin to talk about postwar policies. Among these was the decision to accounting the Japanese homeland when victory had been completed in the Pacific. The Allies also agreed the the occupation should bring around the finish disarmament the Japanese forces and also the psychological of Japanese war criminals. The Potsdam agreement further called for autonomous reforms in Japan"s government. Finally, the Allies claimed that the occupation would finish only when all these problems had been achieved and "a peacefully inclined and responsible government" had actually been established in Japan.

Immediately after ~ the Japanese announced their decision to surrender, Gen. Douglas MacArthur to be appointed the supreme Commander because that the Allied powers to oversee the occupation the Japan. Back he to be technically under the government of one Allied powers commission, MacArthur took his orders indigenous Washington. Rather than establish an American military federal government to rule Japan throughout the occupation, MacArthur chose to employ the currently Japanese government. To execute so, the would problem various direct orders to Japanese federal government officials but allow them to control the nation as lengthy as they complied with the occupation goals developed in Potsdam and Washington.

MacArthur realized that imposing a new order on the island country would it is in a daunting task even with Japanese cooperation. It would certainly be impossible, MacArthur believed, because that foreigners come dictate radical alters to 80 million resentful people.

Having made decision to store the Japanese national legislature (the Diet), the cabinet and also the bureaucracy in place, MacArthur next confronted the inquiry of Emperor Hirohito. The Russians and also British want Hirohito tried and hanged together a battle criminal. MacArthur recommend Washington versus needlessly angering the Japanese by ruining the sacred symbol of your emperor. MacArthur later on wrote in his autobiography: "...I would need at the very least one million reinforcements must such an activity be take away ... Military government would have to be denote throughout every Japan, and guerrilla war would most likely break out."

At his an initial meeting through MacArthur, Hirohito assumed full responsibility because that the wartime plot of Japan discovering that this admission could mean his execution. Ultimately the U.S. And other Allied strength agreed through MacArthur not to law Hirohito as a battle criminal, but one problem was mandated.

On brand-new Year"s day 1946, four months ~ the occupation had begun, Emperor Hirohito renounced the id that he to be a magnificent or godlike being:

The ties in between us and our world have constantly stood upon mutual trust and affection. They carry out not count upon mere legends and myths. They room not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine and also that the Japanese civilization are exceptional to other races and also fated to preeminence the world.

These words, while shocking to most Japanese, smoothed the method for the more than six years the occupation that were come come.

Certain elements of the U.S. Occupation policy brought out by MacArthur were very harsh. Wartime element Minister Tojo and six other leaders to be tried and hanged for war crimes. The plans dismantled and also abolished the Japanese armed forces establishment and banned 200,000 military and civilian leader from holding any type of public office, consisting of the bulk of present Diet members. The large industrial monopolies the had sustained the war effort were broken up. Also government assistance for the main Japanese religion, Shinto, was eliminated.

At the very same time, MacArthur promoted the advancement of democracy in Japan. The suspended Japanese legislations restricting political, civil and religious liberties. The ordered the release" of political prisoners and also abolished the an enig police. The announced a general election come be organized in April 1946, just seven months following the surrender. He also called for the Japanese Diet to pass a new election legislation to carry out for totally free democratic elections, including, because that the very first time in the background of Japan, the appropriate of women to vote. In addition, under MacArthur"s direction, the development of job unions to be encouraged, large landholdings were broken up and also the education and learning system to be reformed.

Surprisingly, every one of these advancements were accepted and in some situations even invited by the Japanese. Of course, Japan was under the control of armed U.S. Troops. Still, the simple Japanese, seeing death and also destruction every around, appeared to conclude that the old means of act things had actually failed. War and also a humiliating defeat had made Japan ripe because that revolutionary change.

A new Constitution

The Meiji constitution of 1889 concentrated actual political power in the hands of a little group of government leaders responsible to the emperor, no the people. Native 1930 to the end of the battle this governing team was conquered by the military.

Before 1945, democracy as we know it had little chance to develop in Japan. No free elections or actual political parties existed. Women were denied same rights. From an American viewpoint, back the Meiji Constitution listed a number of individual liberties, couple of were meaningful. Because that example, even though free speech was protected by the constitution, the federal government prohibited what it considered "dangerous thoughts."

Early in the occupation MacArthur experienced the need to drastically adjust the Meiji Constitution. In his autobiography, MacArthur argued:

We can not merely encourage the growth of democracy. We had to make certain that that grew. Under the old constitution, federal government flowed downward from the emperor, who hosted the can be fried authority, come those to whom he had actually delegated power. It to be a dictatorship to start with, a hereditary one, and also the civilization existed to offer it.

MacArthur interacted his views to the leaders of the Japanese government who developed a committee to rewrite the Meiji Constitution. After four months" work, through February 1, 1947, the committee had produced a revision with just minor indigenous changes. For instance, in the rewrite the emperor ended up being "supreme" rather than "sacred" together in the old constitution.

MacArthur refuse to accept the Japanese revision. He provided his own world the job of composing a "model constitution" which would certainly then be supplied by the Japanese in preparing another revision, i m sorry he want completed before the Japanese general. Choice scheduled just two month away. He saw the election together a test of even if it is the Japanese people would accept democratic alters in their political system.

The task of creating MacArthur"s "model constitution" dropped to the federal government Section of his basic Headquarters. A team, of about a dozen Army and Navy policemans (all through special maintain in government) to add a couple of civilian specialists met secretly to discuss, debate and also write their design for a new Japanese constitution. The team members provided a 1939 edition of a book on world constitutions as their main reference. Most of the last wording was drafted by three army officers, every lawyers. This "constitutional convention" it s long a full of six days.

The resulting constitution borrowed from the British system in establishing a cabinet and also prime minister who were responsible come the elected Diet. The promises of individual rights included wording comparable to that uncovered in the American invoice of Rights. One part, guaranteeing equal rights, also went past the legit protections Americans enjoyed at that time. Various other provisions sounded choose they had actually come native the steady policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt"s brand-new Deal. Because that example, workers obtained the right "to organize and to bargain and also act collectively...."

Perhaps the many unique component of the "model constitution" to be the "no-war clause." follow to short article 9: "...The Japanese civilization forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the country and the threat or usage of pressure as means of settling worldwide disputes." post 9 walk on to abolish all land, sea and air army forces. This short article was had as the an outcome of a pointer made by prime Minister Shidehara to MacArthur. Shidehara thought that this supplication would display the remainder of the civilization that Japan never again plan to wage aggressive war.

To the Japanese people, however, the most radical adjust from the Meiji Constitution to be the removed of the emperor together the source of all federal government authority. In the "model constitution" the people, acting through the elected Diet, to be supreme. MacArthur decided to keep the place of emperor, however merely as "the price of the State and of the unit of the people."

The Japanese federal government leaders were shocked through the radical alters proposed in the "model constitution." In particular, they found it difficult to expropriate the idea the "rule by the people" i beg your pardon conflicted through the Japanese legacy of absolute obedience come the emperor. After ~ disagreeing among themselves, the Japanese cabinet checked out the emperor. ~ above February 22, Hirohito finished the deadlock by commanding the the "model" end up being the basis because that the new constitution of Japan. "Upon these principles," Emperor Hirohito said, "will truly remainder the welfare of ours people and also the rebuilding the Japan."

On march 6, the Japanese cabinet welcomed the brand-new constitution. This was adhered to by declaration of approval by Emperor Hirohito and Gen. MacArthur that later dubbed the document "the many liberal constitution in history."

The constitution was commonly publicized and also enthusiastically questioned by the Japanese people, especially during the days leading up to the April general election. As soon as the Dietmet throughout the summer of 1946, the newly chosen legislators debated and also then voted final approval. Japan"s new democratic structure went into impact on may 3, 1947.

Has Japan"s autonomous constitution been a success? MacArthur himself dubbed it "probably the single most important accomplishment of the occupation." rather have because criticized MacArthur because that unnecessarily forcing the Japanese come renounce their political traditions and also accept democracy too rapidly.

In 1952, the American occupation of Japan ended. The Japanese to be again an elevation people free to run their nation as castle wished. Since then, the Japanese have changed or excellent away v a number of the revolutionary instituted through MacArthur. One reform stays firmly in place: the "MacArthur Constitution." because that 40 years it has never been revised or amended. In the words of Japanese scholar Sodei Rinjiro: "Clearly the constitution has sunk the roots among the people. "

For Discussion

Why was basic MacArthur wake up to i have loaded radical alters on post-World battle II Japan and also its government? List numerous policies basic MacArthur offered to encourage the advancement of democracy in Japan. Exactly how did the vault Meiji structure stifle democracy in Japan? perform several policies of the brand-new Japanese structure that assisted make the democratic. how did the Japanese people respond come the new constitution?


This activity is designed to be done in class before they check out the post in this section. The questions listed below had to it is in answered by the United claims after the surrender the Japan on august 14, 1945.

Meeting in little groups, students need to discuss and also write down at least one factor for their very own answers to both the following questions.

1. When Japan is occupied, need to the Japanese government be entirely abolished and replaced by the straight rule of American army authorities?

In Germany the Nazi government had broke down as allied troops closed in top top Berlin. Adhering to Germany"s defeat, the Allies set up their very own military federal governments to ascendancy in their corresponding zones of occupation. In Japan, however, the emperor, nationwide legislature (called the Diet), ruling cabinet and also the entire government bureaucracy all stayed in location at the moment of the surrender.

2. Need to the U.S. Insist that Japan change its constitution in order to develop a democracy?

Japan had actually a composed constitution, a "gift" the the Emperor Meiji in 1889. In plenty of respects that wording make it comparable to our own Constitution. However, the Japanese constitution made the emperor, no the people, the sole source of political authority. Thus, the Meiji Constitution to be a mix of west political thought and also Japanese legacies that had emerged over the centuries.

See more: Ahab The Call Of The Wretched Sea, The Call Of The Wretched Sea

The two questions noted below had to be answered through the United says after the surrender of Japan on respectable 14, 1945. Conference in small groups, students have to discuss, answer, and record at least one factor for their answers.


Have students accomplish in the same groups they did previously for the "Preliminary Activity." questioning each team to again answer the two concerns from the "Preliminary Activity" and write down at the very least one reason for each of these decisions, this time introduce to the info they gained from the reading. Each group should next compare the answers it composed in the "Preliminary Activity" through the information it found in the reading. Each group should report its result to the class. Finally, the class as a totality should comment on the adhering to questions:What distinctions did you find between your own answers come the questions in the "Preliminary Activity" and the actual decision made by the U.S. And also MacArthur? go you adjust your mental on any of these questions? execute you think that the endure in populated Japan proves that the U.S. Constitution have the right to be transplanted to any type of other land? Why or why not?