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 economic recovery.

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.


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