Week 3 (Setp 22-24). War Responsibility and Constitutional Politics During the Occupation
The Occupation, the Tokyo Tribunal, and War Responsibility
Overall assessment of the occupation:
- A period of major reforms from above by the American Occupation, but intense role for Japanese political leaders (Shidehara, Yoshida) and bureaucrats as well.
- Most reforms were partly shaped and full implemented by Japanese government officials. A lot of bargaining went on.
- Some unwanted reforms were in fact reversed in the early 1950s after the US departure (education reform police reform).
- With respect to the Emperor and war responsibility, practical decisions led to an incomplete outcome.
- Overall Approaches followed during the Occupation
- The legacy Constitution
- Decisions with respect to the Emperor
- The Tokyo Tribunal
- Key steps in the 1950s
- Impact and Legacies
- The Yasukuni Question
1. Overview of key occupation decisions
1. The Pivotal Role of the Emperor (August 15, 1945):
- War comes to an end following a personal intervention of the Emperor, who urged the most extreme military commanders to stop the war and went on the radio (for the first time) to ask Japanese people to accept surrender gracefully. This was a key factor in the US decision to retain the Emperor.
2. The Extent of Destruction and Despair in Japan in 1945 (cities destroyed by air raids, atomic bombs, economy in shambles…)
3. US-only Occupation:
- The Soviets were prevented from “sharing” in the Occupation, despite their interest in being present in Hokkaido. The British, Canadians, Australians, and other Allies were mostly absent
IMMEDIATE STEPS TAKEN BY THE US OCCUPATION FORCES (1945-1946):
- Demilitarization, Purge of key leaders (military, business, politicians)
- Land Reform: a major reform that redistributed land
- Reform of the giant industrial groups (Zaibatsu), who later regrouped in looser structures (keiretsu)
Key Political Observation in the early Occupation:
- The US Occupation purged military leaders and removed the military from the political scene. They also purged many of the senior political leaders and reformed the police (and Home Ministry). But they kept two political pillars:
- a/ the Emperor (albeit only as a symbol)
- b/ the bureaucrats who were needed to administer the reforms. In fact, because of the removal of most key competitors (politicians and military), bureaucrats grew in power and occupied the power vacuum. This strengthened the trend of government-guided capitalism.
2. The Genesis of the 1946 Constitution
- The key priority of the American occupation was to democratize Japan (smash authoritarian rule, equalize political and even economic rights, and transform values).
- Oct 45: freedom of speech, press, assembly, labor unions declared. Order issued to extend political and civil rights to women
- Dec 45: land reform ordered
- Feb 46: constitution written by McArthur’s staff
- Apr 46: elections, Yoshida becomes PM
- Oct 46: Diet discusses constitutions, votes it
- May 1947: new constitution effective
THE POLITICAL STORY BEHIND THE CONSTITUTION
- Initially, McArthur wanted to let the Japanese government (under PM Shidehara) write its own constitution. But by early 1946, he grew unhappy with the process and thought that the Japanese drafts resembled too much the 1889 Meiji Constitution.
- So, McArthur asked his political staff (20 people) to draft a constitution in 6 days. This GHQ draft was handed to the Japanese government. Eventually, when the Diet passed the constitution 4 months later, it looked very much like the GHQ draft.
Initial Fierce Tug-of-War over Government
- Sept 3, 1945: McArthur planned to put Japan under direct military rule. Meets foreign minister Shigemitsu who argues for continuation of JP govt based on Potsdam declaration. McArthur accepts.
- Sept 15: McArthur orders plan for “revision of constitution”
- Oct 3: McArthur dismisses Interior Minister and head of police. Higashikuni gvt resigns. Shidehara becomes PM.
Battle over Constitution
- Japanese Cabinet divided (yet, needs unanimity): Prince Konoe appoints himself to revise constitution as preemptive strike against US. Yoshida-Shidehara refuse, fearing opening floodgates.
- Nov 1: McArthur’s dismisses Konoe draft. Konoe commits suicide Dec 15.
- Oct: McArthur gave five-point memo to Shidehara, ordering major revision. Shidehara stonewalls. Sees constitutional revision under occupation as improper.
- Fierce debate within US and allies: Soviets +Acheson want Emperor out.
High Drama in Feb 1946
- Jan 24: long meeting McArthur-Shidehara. Shidehara accepts need for new constitution with popular sovereignty and
- Emperor as symbol-only way to save Emperor
- McArthur holds tight about US pressures to try Emperor (crucial letter)
- Feb 1: Matsumoto draft of new constitution leaked. McArthur infuriated. Too little
- Feb 3: Gal Whitney and staff draft new draft in a week (by Feb 12).
- Feb 13: Ultimatum to For Minister Yoshida by Gal Whitney (crucial meeting - read story)
More on the Constitution:
- The Constitution guaranteed sweeping rights: human rights, collective rights, social rights, rights to education and work, etc…
- The Constitution created a parliamentary system quite similar to the British (and Canadian) system.
- The Constitution also entitled women to vote for the first time. It guaranteed equality in marriage, divorce, property, inheritances…
- The Constitution included the famous Article 9, which forbids Japan to wage war and to maintain armed forces (the pacifism clause).
Details of Article 9:
CHAPTER 2: RENUNCIATION OF WAR
- Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat of use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
- In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
The Emperor Saves the Day
- Feb 13: Yoshida and Matsumoto refuse to accept ultimatum. Feb 21:Shidehara-McArthur meeting. No outcome. Cabinet deadlocked.
- Feb 21: consulted by PM Shidehara, Emperor order acceptance of US draft (see Dower 384).
- March 4: Cabinet issues translated Japanese version (Matsumoto), in fact watered down. Long night at SCAP translating back.
- June 20: Diet begins debates. Intense debate in UH (constitutional scholars)
- Yoshida forced to defend draft as “will of Japanese people”, some battle with SCAP.
A Few Major Changes to the Initial McArthur Draft
- Exhausting back and forth in Spring 46
- Biggest change: McArthur draft had unicameral Diet - under strong pressure from Shidehara-Matsumoto, bicameral feature added (to protect against communist sweep).
- Big battle over Cabinet vs Emperor: US holds firm (Cabinet primacy). Emperor legitimacy built up a bit (unbroken line).
- A few rights are cut out (espec. Rights for foreigners- Japanese promise to issue those by law).
- Many small changes through Diet process (approved by SCAP, but only orally. Some grassroots additions (use of common language, stronger education rights, abolition of peerage).
The Battle over Art 9
- The Ashida amendment added in Diet lower house:
- “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph”.
- Aim: open the door to future armament for self-defense.
The Make-Believe Operation
- Acknowledging GHQ draft became taboo for Japanese officials. SCAP orders given secretly and orally.
- Constitution officials comes from Emperor’s order to revise old one and free will of people expressed through parliament.
- Yet Japanese could see the total difference between Feb 1 draft and March 06 public new draft.
Other Points about the US Occupation period:
- There was a social and cultural demonstration effect (American affluence on display)
- Labor unions and leftist parties were allowed / encouraged (at first).
- Initially, a lot of the Americans involved in the occupation were young so-called “New Dealers” (heirs to FDR’s Social New Deal program). They brought a lot of social idealism to Japan.
The Reverse Course: 1947-1948 + Dodge Line: 1949
- In response to the beginning of the Cold War (tensions in Europe in 1947, Berlin Blockade in 1948, etc…), the US began to put an emphasis on security and stability in Japan over social reforms. They banned a general strike by newly-freed labor unions (1947) and imposed restrictions on leftist parties. They favored a democracy run by old conservatives from the old system over social reformers: neither military nor socialists.
- In 1949, the banker Dodge was sent to Japan to curb inflation and implement a restrictive economic policy (that had social costs but stabilized the economy).
June 1950: Start of the Korean War
- Big impact on Japan. Japan becomes the rear base for US troops fighting in Korea. The war creates huge demand for Japanese goods and kick-starts the economy.
1951: San-Francisco Peace Treaty and New Security Treaty
- At the height of the Korean War, the US agreed to end the Occupation and to sign a peace treaty with Japan (which was seen as generous). But Japan and the US also immediately signed a security treaty that included the continued large-scale military presence of US troops and the continuing American rule over Okinawa (it lasted until 1972).
Consequences for Japan
- The US also urged Japan to rearm (to share the burden of protecting itself against the Soviet Union and China). Japan eventually created a Self-Defense Force in the mid-1950s (with an ongoing row over its constitutionality).
- Japan adapted the so-called “Yoshida Doctrine” (see Pyle, chapter 2): decision to rely on the US for its security and concentrate its resources on economic recovery.
- Certain essential historical events became embedded in institutions and norms that frame the political system today
GOING BEYOND ? DEEPER LASTING ISSUES:
- Analyze how the issue of war responsibility was handled during the Occupation
- How the Tokyo Tribunal was managed
- Decisions by Conservative governments in the 1950s
- Legacies and Impact today
Two Big Questions
- Should Japan be held responsible for the war in the Pacific? Or was Japan pushed into war by an unstable/unfair international system and by US economic policies (oil embargo)?
- Was the Emperor responsible? Did the Americans shield him?
3. Decisions With Respect to the Emperor
- Early Decision made by McArthur and Washington to rely on Emperor for early Occupation and to postpone decision
- At several key moments (espec April 1946), Allies decide to do fact-finding and postpone decision.
- McArthur does not pursue active fact-finding
- The End of Occupation still left the issue open for future Japanese governments. The Emperor is neither proved innocent nor tried as guilty
Assessing the Emperor’s Role in WWII
- Classic view is that of a passive ruler, without real power, constrained by his commanders
- Emperor actively participates in presenting this version in 1946 through long monologues dictated to his aides and passed on to McArthur.
- All key documents remain secret (including the Emperor’s thorough diaries).
Herbert Bix’s Thesis (2000, p15)
- A carefully planned schooling, which stressed military training as well as preparation for “virtuous rule.”
- A deepening involvement in political and military affairs, as well as in the legitimation of the imperial bureaucracy and its policies.
- Very well informed and knowledgeable on military
- “Practical application of the Meiji Constitution required him to operate within a pluralistic, consensual system of decision-making that deliberately blurred lines of accountability. But I also stressed his inconsistencies, the important moments when he vacillated, and those occasions when he changed his mind and did not act rationally.”
A few key moments
- 1928-1929: after the Manchurian incident (Japanese Kwantung Army killing Zhang Zuo-Lin), the Emperor stops PM Tanaka from court-martialing the officers. He effectively fires Tanaka and selects Hamaguchi
- 1936: 2-28 rebellion crushed actively by HiroHito, 17 rebels executed; issue of sibling rivalry with Prince Chichibu
Bix and the Conduct of the War
- During the 1930s and early 1940s, Japan’s major players in this process—the army, navy, and foreign ministry in particular—were often deeply at odds with each other.
- Caught up in, and at the very center of, this consensual decision-making process, Hirohito appeared simultaneously passive, noncommittal, and remote—indeed almost invisible. But behind the scenes and out of public scrutiny, he became more and more dynamic and activist, more and more the prodding political monarch, willing and able to inject his “imperial will” into the process before prime ministers ever brought cabinet decisions to him for his sanction.
Responsibility vs War Crimes
- Hirohito “shared responsibility” for “the military’s refusal to apply international law to China”—a legal “void” that, as I said, lay behind the atrocities and the mistreatment of prisoners of war, whether military or civilian.
- “He alone was free to act in this area and needed to act, but did not act. If he had intervened and insisted on establishing rules and regulations, or even an organization for handling war prisoners, the result could well have been different.”
- “Hirohito bore more direct responsibility for the use of poison gas. Gas was the one weapon that Hirohito, the Imperial Headquarters and the high command retained close, effective control over throughout the entire China war” (Bix, pp. 360-61).
Key Impact with respect to the end of the war
- Not until late June 1945 did Hirohito finally, personally and directly, order a search for an early, negotiated peace to avoid capitulation.
- “It was [Hirohito’s] reluctance to break with the military proponents of fighting to the bitter finish that mainly delayed Japan’s surrender” (p. 15).
Bix on HiroHito after 1945
- The emperor of my four postwar chapters was an extraordinary survivor, determined to avoid attending the Tokyo Trials, and to do whatever was necessary to ensure the continuity of his dynasty and the imperial institution.
- His behavior after 1946 showed his disregard for the Constitution of Japan and for the autonomy of the Japanese people, whom he continued to regard as his “children.”
- Chapter 15 on the Tokyo war crimes trial showed that Hirohito and his advisers wanted to avoid any possible judicial questioning. For Hirohito, the Tokyo trial always carried the threat of exposing the deception that he had been a normal constitutional monarch.
- In the end, I described a culpable emperor who was born to preserve the Japanese empire and his people, but who led them instead to disaster. After Japan’s surrender American authorities, for their own selfish reasons, handled him with kid gloves.
- I argued that maintaining Hirohito on the throne after the defeat, not investigating his role in policy making, and insulating him from criminal investigation and possible trial created more problems than it solved. It contributed to a falsification of history.
4. The Tokyo Tribunal (source: Yuma Totani)
- Established 4.5 months after Sept 2, 1945 (Missouri signing of end of war)
- Legal basis for trial rested with this surrender document (allies have power over justice and war tribunal)
- One tribunal in Tokyo and 40 other courts on war crimes in Asian theaters (240 trials, 5518 defendants at these national courts).
- In Tokyo, a single trial with 28 defendants, following Nuremberg example: high level military and political leaders (incl Tojo Hideki, war cabinet leader at Pearl Harbor), ie those most responsible for planning, deciding, waging war (since 1931). Also charges of authorizing JP forces of committing war crimes, rapes, etc.. as a strategy of JP warfare
- In the end, 920 people executed
Problems of the Tokyo Tribunal
- Problem of int’l law: ex post application of new concepts (crimes against humanity, crimes against peace)
- Undue process - some short cuts, and exclusion of Emperor
- One-sidedness - no review of Hiroshima and other crimes committed by Allies
- Important dissent: 3 out of 11 judges (Indian, French, Dutch), although sidelined
Legacies of the Tokyo Tribunal
- Doubts about its legitimacy linger (cf Japan Times article, Aug 4, 2005)
- An increasing number of young Japanese are questioning the validity of the tribunal.In a 1982 NHK poll of 2,623 people, 10 percent of those aged 16 to 19, and 11 percent of those in their 20s, replied that "they can't tell" whether Japan waged a war of aggression. Those ratios grew to 29 percent and 37 percent, respectively, in the 2000 poll.
- Many conservative leaders, including Abe Shinzo have questioned the Tokyo Tribunal
Tokyo Tribunal and Current Nationalist Politics
- August 29, 2006: interview with Kato Koichi:
- Mr Kato said last night that while Mr Koizumi did not deny the 14 war leaders were properly convicted, Mr Abe did."He says he feels strong doubt about the legitimacy of the Tokyo court," Mr Kato said, citing the new Abe book, My Beautiful Country.
5. Some Key Steps in the 1950s
- Decision made by post-occupation leaders to reject part of the war evaluation and to reinstate many of the purged leaders
- One example: Kishi Nobosuke, indicted war criminal, becomes Prime Minister in 1957
- Silence and refusal, no active management
- Key debates were frozen until now
6. Legacies of These Decisions Today
- Certain essential historical events became embedded in institutions and norms that frame the political system today
- The assessment of WWII, of Japan’s war responsibility, and of the role of the Emperor was never fully conducted. Partly short-circuited by the Allies’ management of the Tokyo tribunal, partly opposed by Conservative politicians.
- Absence of a common truth. A debate postponed and coming back to the surface now.
7. The Yasukuni Question
- Origin: small shrine (shokonsha) in Kyoto, established late Tokugawa
- Transfer to Tokyo after 1868, put under Army and Navy control
- 1879: Made into a Special Government Shrine (bekkaku kampeisha).
- Became a shrine to commemorate solidiers who died in Japan’s wars (1894-95 with China, 1904-05 with Russia) etc..
- 1930: Prominent military nationalist (Suzuki Takao) appointed as chief priest.
Post-War Yasukuni Management
- 1947: Constitution calls for clear separation of church and state. Shrine becomes private.
- Yet, remains as a sort of national monument to memory
- First leaders post-1945 visited Yasukuni, yet MacArthur quickly forbade them. They resumed in 1952
- ** 1956: Ministry of Health and Welfare decides to enshrine all those eligible for war pensions
- 1959: Convicted Class B and C criminals allowed to receive war pensions. Interpenetration.
The Crux of the Problem: 1978 Enshrinment of War Criminals
- October 17, 1978, secrete enshrinment of 14 class A war criminals (including Tojo Hideki). Announced many months later in April 1979.
- Formally a private decision of the Shrine’s priest (nationalist), but acting on lists of recipients of war pensions by government.
First Uproar: Nakasone, 1985
- Nakasone goes regularly. Yet, by 1985, Yasukuni has caught the attention of both China and Korea. Pressure builds up. Nakasone gives up.
- No PM returns until Hashimoto in 1996 (once, after Taiwan missile crisis and PCR’s nuclear tests) and Koizumi in 2001 (5 times).
- Interestingly, Mori Yoshiro, Chair of bereaved families association, did not go
The Other Problem: the Yushukan Museum
- Museum attached to the shrine, fully renovated a few years ago
- Main narrative: a story of resistance to the imperial powers of the West and of Japan's leadership in a rebellion that spans the continent of Asia.
- Artifacts praise the glory of the Imperial Army in the war (big map of 1942 victories); kamikaze torpedoes and planes etc..
- A Key Site to know more: http://www.chinajapan.org/sites/yushukan/index.html
Visits by Prime Ministers to Yasukuni (data: Prof. Phil Deans)
The Meaning of Yasukuni in Japan - Concentric Circles
- Association of War Bereaved Families (2 Million, core LDP support groups) = litmus test of support for veterans
- Nationalist Politicians, Bureaucrats, Thinkers: important to make a point that 60 years of shame must end. Time to assert a proud Japan
- Koizumi: praying for piece and paying respect to war veterans (but catering to nationalist supporters of LDP)
- Larger population: low salience, quite indifferent and divided; but reacts against Chinese or Korean anger (rallying around the PM)
The Koizumi Escalation
Visit in 2002
Response in Korea
The Final Koizumi Trick: August 15, 2006
- Thick context: Koizumi became key issue on national political agenda in 2006, Fukuda-Kato-Yamazaki vs Koizumi
- July 06: Memo by Showa Emperor leaked by Nikkei newspaper: angry at enshrinment of 14 war criminals in 1978
- Opinion moving away from support to visits
- Koizumi turns everything around in one go
- At core, more extreme than Koizumi, namely Abe questions legitimacy of Tokyo war tribunal. Strong supporter of Yasukuni and its larger meaning
- Went repeatedly to Yasukuni, most recently in April 06 (secretly)
- Yet, no need to prove nationalist credentials. Will not go this year and seek China summit immediately
The Meaning of Yasukuni in China and Korea
- In China, the Yasukuni Shrine plays both at the elite and mass level: the CCP has used it as a tool to pursue other policy objectives; but there is genuine grassroots resentment and anger (which can become uncontrolled).
- Yasukuni seen as litmus test of Japan’s genuine acceptance of war responsibility (persecution during colonialism for Korea, war crimes for China)
- The Yasukuni issue represents a deeper problem, namely:
- The absence of a common narrative of the war (and imperial period) between Japan and its neighbors
- And continued ambiguities within Japan about the war and war responsibility. Party due to middle position of Japan as oppressor and victim at the same time (caught between dangerous external system and vulnerable neighbors).
- Void exploited by nationalists - vulnerability
- The ambiguities and limits of the Tokyo War Tribunal and the mixed nature of Japan’s role in the war have kept historical issues as a live lightening rod.
- The post-war fragile status quo is now being tested by a nationalist government in Japan eager to restore Japan’s pride and role in int’l affairs and by vigorous reactions by China and Korea.
- There is potential for a vicious tit-for-tat cycle to take place. Waste of time for Japan when it ought to build institutions with China.
- Or, will Abe proved to be Japan’s Nixon?