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Social Reform Essay

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Discuss how assumptions that social reforms and equality would flourish in post-war Japan have or have not been realized. Who was assumed to benefit in Japan from the worldwide trend of “social empowerment?” Who or what has benefited thus far?


The devastation in Japan, post-war, was astonishing. Nuclear bombing attacks by the United States caused mass destruction and deaths. Cities, factories, and home were completely destroyed. Japan lost their colonies and laid in ruins. There was no other choice but to surrender.

General MacArthur, under The United States, set out to accomplished social reform in Japan.

Social Reform

On August 6th, 1945, United States dropped their first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Hiroshima was completely annihilated. Thousands lay dead, while many more continued to die from the shock wave and fire. Japan refused to surrender. A second bomb was deployed three days later. The death toll was 120,000 and rising related to radiation exposure. August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito surrendered (National Geographic, 2007). The Emperor publically accepted American rule and demonstrated his willingness to collaborate in the occupation (Brower, 2006).

United States occupation in Japan instituted political reform. General MacArthur was responsible for the new constitution introduced.

Women received protection of their rights. The educational system was expanded. War criminals were tried and convicted. Masses of land were redistributed. New laws were set in place to protect the factory workers. Small businesses and labor unions were encouraged. Unfortunately, labor unions became controlled by the Communist Party, causing shortages of goods. Strikes began nationwide. United States and Japan made economic and social stability their top priority.

United Stated and Japan withdrew their support for labor unions. This conservative social policy set the pattern for Japanese capitalism in the decades to come. The U.S. occupation authorities installed in Japan a type of democratic, free enterprise system that promoted political and economic practices closely resembling those in Japan in the 1920”s (Brower, 2006). In 1947, the socialist party elected their new leader, Shigeru Yoshida. Yoshida was anti-communist and worked well with General Douglas MacArthur.

In 1948, Yoshida became the Japanese prime minister. Major economic changes rapidly began. During this time, General MacArthur sought to make Japan self-supporting nation. Japan and The United States became very close allies. Years later, Japan became one of the most thriving, productive, and prosperous countries in the world. Education and technology were growing. New industries were built throughout Japan, while goods expanded into the foreign market. Today, Japan is a highly successful nation.

Brower, D. (2006). The World in the Twentieth Century: From Empires to Nations. (6th edition, p. 292) Pearson: Upper Saddle River, NJ Jared, D. (2007). 1000 Events That Shaped the World. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

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