The effects of World War II were experienced by the world major powers that were engaged in it with different magnitude. As nations started to revive their economies, politics also took a different bearing with great struggles which seem even to take shape in present world. Therefore, purpose of this presentation is to discuss the socio-political, trends of postwar era in Britain and Japan. By the end of World War II, Britain was severely affected in that there was tremendous damage economically, politically and socially.
This took several years and great sacrifices of the citizens to salvage the country from debris of the war. War had brought frustration, cynicism, bitterness and joblessness to mention but a few. As result of this, country did require a healthy mood without which rehabilitation, reconstruction and economy revival could not have been possible. Response to this, Britain decided to get rid of the War government and put up the civilian government that would initiate damage control with British citizens on board.
In fact the peaceful transfer of power to a democratic government proved necessary after that bloody War (Singh, pp 56). Shortly after war, elections were held to British Parliament and the Labor Party won over Conservative Party and established the government. The Conservative Party wanted to rule without offering any economic and social balm to the Post-War youths. But with Labor Party sensing the mood of the nation, it presented radical proposals that would offer them solutions.
As a reaction against the War time government, British electorates did transfer the power to the Labor Party by giving almost four hundred out of six hundred seats in the House of Commons. However, in spite of the electoral landslide of the Labor Party, it had a big task before it that required settling of Post-War problems in both local and international. Even though British and its allies had won the battle, it had lost approximately a quarter of its national wealth in the war. It had to repair bomb damages and rebuild foreign trade while maintaining large occupation forces in conquered areas.
To be able to unravel this puzzle related to the domestic economy, British through the Labor government had to exercise its complete direct and indirect control over the British economy which integrated socialization, nationalization and industrialization in order to bring about the desired change in the traditional Britain (Vaidya, pp 224). The first thing the government did was to build and mend the houses that were damaged during the war. The government also had to focus on the education as it had to address the issue of the joblessness among the youths and unprecedented crisis which was brought by the War.
Apart from building houses and educational programs government was also interested in providing social and economic security to each of its citizen. These included provisions such as insurance payments in case of unemployment, maternity and sickness among others. Government through National Health Service every British citizen was eligible for free medical services regardless of their income. For effective social welfare schemes control through exchequer, the government adopted nationalization policy.
This resulted to nationalization of the Bank of England, the oversees wireless services, coal mining industry and other enterprises. Nevertheless, this did not go without opposition which was reflected in the next general elections that were held. Labor Party lost significant number of seats as its popularity had declined because the British population was tired of extensive social and economic experiments carried out by the Labor Party. This was due to the fact that the adoption of policies by the Labor Government resulted in raise of the taxes which were resented by the British Populace.
This made it difficult for the Labor Government to be in power in the next term of the five year. Acute problems faced Labor Cabinet. Adverse trade balance in Britain continued to create financial situation that was compounded by the defence needs that made the national budget to skyrocket. The British youths lost their faith in the Labor Party due to making compromises for previous two elections. Due to these reasons when 1955 parliamentary elections were held, the Conservatives gain power again. But with these two parties the situation did not prove any better.
In fact there were a lot of dissatisfactions with many people and in early 1950 they felt that life was aimless. It happened that from 1955 to 1963 the major political parties in Britain were all subject to severe criticism because none did satisfactory work either on the domestic or foreign front. By late 1963, the British political trend inclined towards the Labor Party as it had gained control of local civic bodies while the Conservative Party enjoyed a comfortable majority. The decline of the popularity of the conservative Government was due to three reasons.
The first reason was that there was widespread unemployment among educated youths. Secondly, the War minister by then was involved in moral scandal and finally the Labor Party members were charging the Conservatives government with the inactivity in public health, housing and education areas in which the Labor government had done much but not into satisfaction of the British people. This made the Labor Party to be in power again in 1964. But this time still the dark economic clouds were hanging over the Britain surrounded with acute housing problems.
Government decided to take extreme measures and imposed restriction against co-operate mergers, tighten the laws against monopolies and dropped many defense projects of which satisfied the British people. Because of these significant developments, it won the British people confidence and it was voted in the elections that followed. British government in 1966 reduced its overseas forces by a third and acknowledged that without help of the United States no major military operation would be possible.
As a result of this, in 1967 and 1968, its pound was devalued as a measure of austerity but trade continued to sag. The government did not enjoy any economic help from the commonwealth but only in the membership of the Common Market. As the Britain held the eight general elections since 1945, the issues of race and the problems of British immigrants and black immigrants were taken up by the Conservative candidates. Therefore, the social and political events which had taken place from 1945 up to around early 1970s were very disturbing both in the domestic and foreign arena (Schonberg, pp 112).
Post-war period caused Britain to suffer heavy losses in trade, industry and foreign affairs. The governments which took power after post war period namely the Labor and Conservatives governments managed to attain some achievements in a nuclear power and developing a successful independent delivery system. After the World War II the British leaders believed the their country would play the major role of the keeper of the European balance of power but this did not happen as result of the economic strain both at home and in the global affairs.
On the other hand, in 1945, the Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin made the Potsdam Declaration the demanded Japan to unconditional surrender. The Declaration also defined the major goals of post surrender Allied occupation that needed the government of Japan to remove all the obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. There was to be freedom of speech, of religion and of thought together with establishment of fundamental human rights (Elsey, pp 98).
The declaration also demanded further that the occupying forces of the Allies to be withdrawn from Japan as soon as when the stipulated objectives were met and established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people, a peacefully inclined and responsible government was to be established. Immediately after the occupation political parties began to revive. There was Left-Wing organizations like Japan Socialist Party and the Japanese Communist Party that reestablished very fast and did other various conservative parties.
The Rikken Seiyukai and Rikken Minseito that existed before appeared again and also the Liberal Party and the Japan Progressive Party. In fact the first postwar elections were held in 1948 where women were given the franchise for the very first time in and the Liberal Party’s vice president, Yoshida Shingeru was the prime minister. The anti-Yoshinda forces left the Liberal Party and Joined forces with the Progressive Party to new Democratic Party.
As result of this, this gave a plurality to the Japan Socialist Party which was allowed to form a cabinet that barely lasted a year. Shortly after a period of Democratic Party reign, Yoshida returned towards the end of 1948 and continued to serve as prime minister until 1954. Before the government had gained full sovereignty it had already rehabilitated about eighty thousand people who had been purged many of whom returned their former political and government positions.
The questions over the limitation of military spending and the sovereignty of the emperor caused heated debate. This contributed to great significant in reduction of the Liberal Party’s majority in the first post-occupation elections. There happened to be several reorganizations of the armed forces and by 1954, the Japan Self-Defense Forces were established under a civilian director. The adjacent instabilities from Korea did contribute to the United States influenced economic redevelopment suppression of the communism and discouragement of the organized labor in Japan.
With time, this caused continued fragmentation of parties and resulted to a succession of minority government that led conservative forces to merge the Liberal Party with the Japan Democratic Party which was an offshoot of the earlier Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party in 1955 (Menton et al, pp 120). The party held power from for more than thirty years since it set in and after which it was replaced by a new minority government. Leadership in this party was drawn from the elite who had seen Japan through the defeat and occupation.
This attracted former bureaucrats, local politicians, businessmen farmers and university graduate among the others. By the end of that same year, socialist groups came together under the Japan Socialist Party that formed a second powerful political force. Behind it, it was followed in terms of popularity by the Komeito-Clean Government Party that was founded in 1954 as a political arm of the Soka Gakkai. This party emphasized on traditional Japanese beliefs and attracted urban labors and formers rural residents among others.
As with similar interests with Japan Socialist Party, it favored the gradual modification and dissolution of the Japan-United States Mutual Security Assistance Pact. Liberal Democratic Party governance lasted until the time Diet Lower House elections in 1993 when it failed to win a majority. Thereafter, a coalition of new parties and existing opposition parties formed a governing majority and elected a new prime minister, Morihio Hosokawa in 1993. The major legislative objective of his government was a political reform that focused on new political financing restrictions and major changes in the electoral system.
In 1994 the coalition government succeeded in passing political reform legislation. However, within the same year there was turbulence that saw the resignations and succession of the prime ministers. The Prime Minister Mahayana picked up the government in 1994 by forming a coalition with his Japan Socialist Party, Liberal Democratic Party and the small New Party Sakigake. This advent of coalition of these parties caused a shock to many who witnessed due to previous rivalry.
Murayama served as Prime Minister for two years before he was succeeded by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto who his term only lasted only for two years after he resigned due to poor electoral showing by the Liberal Democratic Party in Upper House elections He was succeeded by Keeizo Obuchi in 1998 with Liberal Democratic Party which was the governing coalition. Shortly after his death in 2000, Yoshiro Mori took over while the coalition broke out. Prime Minister Mori welcomed Liberal Party splinter group which was known as New Conservative Party into a ruling coalition.
This made the ruling government to be made of three party coalition namely Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party where it maintained its majority in the Diet following the June 2000 Lower House elections. When Prime Minister Mori opted to hold early elections for change, nonconformist politician Junichiro Koizumi defeated former Prime Minister Hashimoto and other part stalwarts on a platform of political and economic reform. This made Koizume to be Japan’s eighty seventh elected Prime Minister on 2001.
Two years later he dissolved the lower house after he was reelected as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party (Day, pp 98). Within same year Liberal Democratic Party won the election though it faced setbacks from the new opposition party and similar event occurred during the 2004 Upper House Elections. The year that followed Koizume called for snap election to Lower House due to threat received after Liberal Democratic Party and opposition Socio-democratic Party parliamentarians when they defeated his proposal on a large scale reform and privatization of Japan Post.
When elections were held in September, 2005 Junichiro Koizumi won in a landslide. One year after this new Liberal Democratic Party President Shinza Abe was elected by a special session of the Diet to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as Prime Minister. He was the youngest post-World War II prime minister. Barely a year he resigned and was replaced by Yasuo Fukada. The year that followed, the main opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa announced his resignation from the post as party president after controversy.
In early 2008, Prime Minister Yasuo forced a bill allowing ships to a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of US-led operations in Afghanistan by using the Liberal Democratic Party’s overwhelming majority in the Lower House to ignore a previous ‘no-vote’ of the opposition-controlled Upper House. This marked the first time in fifty years that the Lower House did vote to ignore the opinion of the Upper House. In the same year, Fukada resigned.
His resignation that was a calculated scheme by Liberal Democratic Party so that it does not suffer the ‘power vacuum’ until next year’s general elections (Ibid). Therefore, it can be seen that British politics revolved round the Conservative Party and Labor Party while in Japan there have been more than three political parties since post World War II. It can be rightly concluded that Britain has enjoyed a moment of relative stability when compared with the government of Japan.
In Japan almost in every two years there has been election of Prime Ministers who barely complete their terms successfully. Significant number of them gets into power but resign shortly after. Work Cited: Day, A. J. ; Political Parties of the World. ISBN 095362787X, 9780953627875, John Harper, 2002 Elsey, G. M. ; An Unplanned Life: A Memoir. ISBN 0826216226, 9780826216229, University of Missouri Press, 2005 Gibbs, M. H. ; Struggle and Purpose in Postwar Japanese Unionism. ISBN 1557290660, 9781557290663, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2000 Menton, L. K. et al; The Rise of Modern Japan. ISBN 0824825314, 9780824825317, University of Hawaii Press, 2003 Singh, S. ; The Socio-political Scenario of Great Britain.
Retrieved on 20th January 2009 from:http://www. globalindigo. com/2008/12/09/the-socio-political-scenario-of-great-britain/, 2008 Schonberg, K. K. ; Pursuing the National Interest: Moments of Transition in Twentieth-century American Foreign Policy. ISBN 0275972062, 9780275972066, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003 Vaidya, A. K. ; Globalization: Encyclopedia of Trade, Labor, and Politics. ISBN 1576078264, 9781576078266, ABC-CLIO, 2006
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