General MacArthurís job was to ensure that Japan never went to war
again. To do so, he tried to change the entire social system of the
country. He drew up a new constitution which stated that "the
Japanese people forever renounce war". From then on, Japan was
to have no army, no navy and no air force. Since the time of Emperor
Meiji, the Japanese had been taught that the emperor was divine.
General MacArthurís new constitution stated that the Emperor was
not divine. Instead he was a symbol of the state, a constitutional
monarch like the Queen of England.
One important reform that MacArthur wanted to make was to break
up the zaibatsu, the large family-run conglomerated which dominated
the countryís economy. They were extremely powerful; and they had
played a large part in supporting the war. A few were broken up, but
many retained their power. In the end, MacArthur realized that these
great businesses would play a vital part in speeding Japanís
The Korean War
In 1950 war broke out in Korea. United Nations forces, consisting
largely of American troops, were sent to support the South Koreans.
For Japan, the Korean War was the turning point. The Americans no
longer wanted a quiet, passive Japan. They needed a strong and
co-operative ally in Asia. They also needed arms. Japanese factories
began producing arms again, to supply the American soldiers fighting
in Korea. There was also demand for lorries, tools and spare parts
for military equipment and aircraft. As a result, Japanese heavy
industry quickly began to expand.
Soon afterwards, in 1952, the Occupation ended, although American
troops continued to be stationed in Japan. By the end of the
Occupation, thanks to American financial aid and American help, the
economy was already much strengthened.