Emperor Hirohito signing Japan's 1947 Constitution

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Both Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution , which prohibits Japan from maintaining military forces for settlement of international disputes, and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, which allows the U.S. military to maintain bases on Japanese soil, have been at the center of controversy both in Japan and the United States. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

Article 9 of The Constitution of Japan (1947) reads: "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as 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 above statement was written into the postwar Japanese constitution by the American officials who headed the occupation of Japan. This constitution is sometimes called the "MacArthur Constitution," because General Douglas MacArthur, commander of all Allied forces in the Pacific, directed its writing. The United States fought and occupied Japan primarily to ensure that it would not go to war again, and Article 9 was written to guarantee this. In 1947 General MacArthur envisioned a postwar Japan that would remain disarmed and that would be overseen by the new United Nations.”

Websites and Sources: Post World-War-II Japan hartford-hwp.com Essay on Allied Occupation of Japan aboutjapan.japansociety.org ; Essay on Postwar Japan 1952-1989 aboutjapan.japansociety.org ; Essay on 20th Century Japan aboutjapan.japansociety.org ; Birth of the Constitution of Japan ndl.go.jp/constitution ; Constitution of Japan solon.org/Constitutions/Japan ; Takazawa Collection at the University of Hawaii on Social Japanese Social Movements takazawa.hawaii.edu ; Documents Related to Postwar Politics and International Relations ioc.u-tokyo.ac.jp ; Japanese History Websites: ; Wikipedia article on History of Japan Wikipedia ; National Museum of Japanese History rekihaku.ac.jp ; Books: “Making of Modern Japan” by Marius Jansen (2000);”Inventing Japan: (1853-1964)” by Ian Buruma (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2003). “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II” by John Dowser of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1999.

Japanese Foreign Affairs After World War II

Japan's biggest postwar political crisis took place in 1960 over the revision of the Japan-United States Mutual Security Assistance Pact. As the new Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was concluded, which renewed the United States role as military protector of Japan, massive street protests and political upheaval occurred, and the cabinet resigned a month after the Diet's ratification of the treaty. Thereafter, political turmoil subsided. Japanese views of the United States, after years of mass protests over nuclear armaments and the mutual defense pact, improved by 1972, with the reversion of United States-occupied Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty and the winding down of the Second Indochina War (1954-75). [Source: Library of Congress *]

Prime Minister Yoshida signing the US-Japan Security Treaty in 1951

Japan had reestablished relations with the Republic of China after World War II, and cordial relations were maintained with the nationalist government when it was exiled to Taiwan, a policy that won Japan the enmity of the People's Republic of China, which was established in 1949. After the general warming of relations between China and Western countries, especially the United States, which shocked Japan with its sudden rapprochement with Beijing in 1971, Tokyo established relations with Beijing in 1972. Close cooperation in the economic sphere followed. *

Japan's relations with the Soviet Union continued to be problematic long after the war. The main object of dispute was the Soviet occupation of what Japan calls its Northern Territories, the two most southerly islands in the Kurils (Etorofu and Kunashiri) and Shikotan and the Habomai Islands (northeast of Hokkaido), which were seized by the Soviet Union in the closing days of World War II. *

Despite its wealth and central position in the world economy, Japan has had little or no influence in global politics for much of the postwar period. Under the prime ministership of Tanaka Kakuei (1972-74), Japan took a stronger but still low-key stance by steadily increasing its defense spending and easing trade frictions with the United States. Tanaka's administration was also characterized by high-level talks with United States, Soviet, and Chinese leaders, if with mixed results. His visits to Indonesia and Thailand prompted riots, a manifestation of long-standing antiJapanese sentiments. Tanaka was forced to resign in 1974 because of his alleged connection to financial scandals and, in the face of charges of involvement in the Lockheed bribery scandal, he was arrested and jailed briefly in 1976. *

By the late 1970s, the Komeito and the Democratic Socialist Party had come to accept the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, and the Democratic Socialist Party even came to support a small defense buildup. The Japan Socialist Party, too, was forced to abandon its once strict antimilitary stance. The United States kept up pressure on Japan to increase its defense spending above 1 percent of its GNP, engendering much debate in the Diet, with most opposition coming not from minority parties or public opinion but from budget-conscious officials in the Ministry of Finance. *

Changing American Attitudes Toward Japan's Defense

According to Asia for Educators: “The American vision of an unarmed Japan living in peace under the supervision of a world government was short-lived, however, because the international scene changed rapidly in the late 1940s. Chiang Kai-shek, America's wartime ally in China, was defeated by the communists and fled to Taiwan in 1949. Another one of America's wartime allies, the Soviet Union, quickly came to be seen as the greatest postwar threat to democracy. And in 1950 the Korean War pitted communist forces in the Far East against a United Nations force made up largely of Americans. Thus, by 1950 when John Foster Dulles was appointed to begin negotiating a peace treaty with Japan to conclude the American occupation, he and most other American policy makers had come to see Japan as very important to the defense of American interests and democracy in the Far East. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

“In negotiating the peace treaty that would end the occupation and return political control to the Japanese government, Dulles also sought to pressure the Japanese to rearm and to conduct a military alliance with the United States. Although most of the allied countries signed the treaty, which was presented at San Francisco in 1951, several Asian states did not, including the new People's Republic of China (whose representatives were not invited to the conference) and the Soviet Union.

Rearmament and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty

Japanese naval ships
According to Asia for Educators: “Ironically, by the end of the occupation it was the Americans who were pressing for Japanese rearmament while the Japanese government resisted rearmament in the name of the American-inspired constitution. Dulles encouraged Japan to rearm itself in order to become an effective military ally of the United States, but the Japanese were very reluctant, as many remained shocked by the devastation of the war. The Japanese finally agreed, however, to the minimum compromise that the Americans would accept, which was the creation of a "National Police Reserve," a paramilitary force of 75,000 to defend the Japanese islands. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

“In 1952 the United States Congress ratified the peace treaty that formally ended the American occupation of Japan. Simultaneously it ratified the "U.S.-Japan Security Treaty." This treaty allowed the American military to continue to use important bases in Japan for the defense of the Far East and to intervene in Japan to put down internal disturbances should the Japanese government request such assistance. While the Japanese government and a majority of the public supported the ratification of the new treaty, a sizable portion of the public did not. Even many pro-American conservative Japanese felt that the treaty compromised Japan's independence. Having negotiated this security treaty while under American occupation, however, Japan had little influence over its terms.”

Japan's Political Division Over Defense

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “While international events were shaping American attitudes toward Japan's strategic importance, domestic events were reshaping Japanese thinking. Throughout the 1950s, there was strife over the security treaty with the United States and the continued presence of American soldiers in Japan. This conflict paralleled other political problems that pitted the political left and right against one another. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

Riot in 1960 against US-Japan Security treaty

“In the middle were the moderate conservatives, representing particularly the business, rural and bureaucratic sectors, which made up a majority of the country. They supported the creation of modest Self-Defense Forces, but preferred to entrust the primary responsibility for the military security of the country to the United States, so that Japan could concentrate on economic recovery.

“On the right were the nationalists, who supported the U.S. alliance, but favored a stronger military posture and greater independence from the United States in foreign affairs. They were also generally dissatisfied with the liberal "MacArthur Constitution," because they felt that it was imposed upon Japan from outside, and because it renounced Japan's sovereign right to wage war. The constitution also lowered the position of the emperor; weakened state control of education, local government, and political expression; and supported labor unions and other institutions that the conservatives opposed.

“Opposing the moderate conservatives and the right wing nationalists were the labor unions and the socialist and communist parties on the left. These groups had been suppressed by the wartime military regime, but they greatly benefited under the new constitution. The left wing felt that the alliance with the United States might result in Japan becoming drawn into a conflict peripheral to Japanese interests. For the socialists, peace could only be ensured by complete neutrality and passivism in foreign affairs.

Conflict and Compromise Over Defense Policy

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Throughout much of the postwar period the socialist and communist parties maintained enough popular support to achieve the necessary one-third of the Diet votes to block any reform of the Japanese constitution. However, the conservative Liberal Democratic party (LDP) controlled the government for most of this time. The LDP, which includes some right-wing nationalists as well as a larger group of cautious, pro-American conservatives, developed a pragmatic policy of limited rearmament under the protection afforded by a close relationship with the United States. This policy was continually attacked by both the right and the left and even came under pressure from the United States, but for many years it was the prevailing policy in Japan. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

Protests in 1960 against US-Japan Security treaty

“In May 1960, conflict over Japan's defense policy brought about one of the greatest political crises in the postwar period. The security treaty was central to the LDP's defense policy, but it was not entirely satisfactory to the conservatives. The treaty did not allow Japan any control over how American soldiers based in Japan were to be used — whether overseas, for purely American interests, or in Japan, to put down domestic disturbances. The Japanese government sought a more equal treaty — a treaty of "mutual defense" — that would confer benefits more equally on both sides. The Japanese put this issue before the Americans in l958, and negotiated and signed a new treaty in 1960. The most important changes were the U.S. commitment to defend Japan in the event that Japan was attacked, the provision that Japan would be consulted before the United States moved major forces into or out of the country, and the clause allowing either side to end the treaty after 1970 with one year's notice.

“While these changes were important, many Japanese were still not satisfied, and many opposed any military alliance with the United States. The LDP passed the treaty revision at a special midnight session at which the minority Socialist members were not present. This angered many Japanese and there were mass protests in the streets and in the Diet buildings. These protests were so large and unruly that President Eisenhower was forced to cancel a state visit intended to celebrate cooperation between the two countries. The new treaty automatically received Upper House diet approval a few weeks later, but the battle eventually led to the resignation of Prime Minister Kishi.

“Despite the continuing opposition of some Japanese to Japan's alliance with the United States, public hostility to the treaty lessened after 1960 and the treaty was not abrogated in 1970. By the beginning of the 1980's most opposition parties had come to support the U.S.-Japan alliance. Today the United States government continues to believe that its military bases in Japan are essential for the U.S. forward line of defense in Asia, and the Japanese government continues to view these bases as essential for the protection of Japan. The Japanese government pays a substantial portion of the expenses for U.S. military bases in Japan.”

Self-Defense Forces

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “ Although conservative Japanese remain dissatisfied with Article 9 of the constitution, which renounces Japan's right to maintain military forces, vigorous opposition by the left and among the public has prevented the amendment of Article 9. It remains the basis of Japanese defense policy. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

“Japan does, nonetheless, maintain men under arms, because Article 9 has been interpreted to mean that it is acceptable to maintain purely defensive military forces, with no offensive capability. Japan's Supreme Court has refused to overrule this interpretation. In 1954, the Diet established a "Self-Defense Agency" which converted the "National Police Reserve" into the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces. The original bill provided for a force of 150,000, but this number has been slowly expanded to 270,000 — a relatively small force compared with those of any of Japan's regional neighbors, such as Taiwan, the two Koreas, or China. Its deterrent purpose and modest capability is reflected in the prohibition of the ground forces from operating overseas.

“Complete self-defense against major threats would require a much larger, better equipped force, which would probably strain the existing political compromise and popular acceptance of the Self-Defense Forces. Under present circumstances it would also likely cause apprehension among Japan's neighbors.”

Japan's "Nuclear Allergy"

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “While there has been growing acceptance of the American alliance and the Self-Defense Forces, nuclear weapons are still taboo in Japan today. As the only people in the world to have been attacked with nuclear weapons, the Japanese have a special aversion to them — they call it their "nuclear allergy." Although Japan's high level of technology would allow easy development of nuclear weapons, even the most conservative governments have supported the "three nuclear principles," which prohibit the introduction, storage, and use of nuclear weapons. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

“On the other hand, the Japanese government appreciates, especially after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the need to deter potential opponents from using nuclear weapons against it. For this it relies on the strategic arsenal of the United States, represented particularly by the 7th Fleet; and the public, while uneasy about the visits of the 7th Fleet to Japanese ports, has come increasingly to accept them.”

1960 Protests

Japanese and American Attitudes Towards Japanese Defense Today

According to Asia for Educators: “Fears about rearmament remain strong in Japan. Opinion polls show that the majority of Japanese support the Self-Defense Forces but do not wish them to be enlarged. Each August, at ceremonies at Japan's National Memorial to the Dead, which honors those who died in World War II, there is great controversy between the left and the right over the government's official participation. Fear of militarism and of war is still strong in Japan today. Many Japanese feel that the lesson of World War II is that reliance on military power is self-defeating. They also fear that a strong military cannot be controlled and would ultimately destroy democracy. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

“Having been the victors in World War II, Americans are more concerned with the problems of the present than with the lessons of the past. Japan has become one of the most powerful economies in the world. As Japan's economy continues to grow and its manufactured exports compete with and sometimes take markets away from American industries, many Americans have begun to feel that Japan should accept more of the burden of maintaining stability in the world. Together with the growth of Japanese power and increasing problems of trade have come American demands that Japan begin to accept responsibility for the defense of its own islands and the waters surrounding them.”

Bilateral Security Treaty between the United States of America and Japan (1951)

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Although the American Occupation of Japan came to an end on April 28, 1952, when the San Francisco Peace Treaty went into effect, the United States was hardly prepared to abandon its military presence in Japan. With Japan a key strategic partner in Cold War Asia, the Korean War still in progress, and the military threats from China and the Soviet Union apparently very real, American planners were insistent that substantial U.S. forces needed to remain in place in Japan. At the peace negotiations in 1951, the Japanese delegation was pressured to endorse a separate security agreement with the United States. The Japanese were reluctant to accept this ongoing subordination to America, but had no choice but to acquiesce, signing the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty on the same day (September 8, 1951) as the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The Security Treaty was revised and renewed in 1960 and almost 50,000 American troops are still stationed in Japan today. [Source: Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]

Japan-US Security Treat signed on September 8, 1951

The Bilateral Security Treaty between the United States of America and Japan (September 8, 1951) reads: “Japan has this day signed a treaty of peace with the Allied Powers. On the coming into force of that treaty, Japan will not have the effective means to exercise its inherent right of selfdefense because it has been disarmed. [Source: Dennett and Durance, eds., “Documents on American Foreign Relations,” vol. 9, 1951, pp. 266–67; “Sources of Japanese Tradition”, edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary, Carol Gluck, and Arthur L. Tiedemann, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 1071-1072]

There is danger to Japan in this situation because irresponsible militarism has not yet been driven from the world. Therefore, Japan desires a security treaty with the United States of America to come into force simultaneously with the treaty of peace between the United States of America and Japan.

The treaty of peace recognizes that Japan as a sovereign nation has the right to enter into collective security arrangements, and further, the Charter of the United Nations recognizes that all nations possess an inherent right of individual and collective self.defense. In exercise of these rights, Japan desires, as a provisional arrangement for its defense, that the United States of America should maintain armed forces of its own in and about Japan so as to deter armed attack upon Japan.

The United States of America, in the interest of peace and security, is at present willing to maintain certain of its armed forces in and about Japan, in the expectation, however, that Japan will itself increasingly assume responsibility for its own defense against direct and indirect aggression, always avoiding any armament which could be an offensive threat or serve other than to promote peace and security in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States of America and Japan (1960)

Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States of America and Japan (January 19, 1960) reads: Japan and the United States of America, Desiring to strengthen the bonds of peace and friendship traditionally existing between them, and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law, Desiring further to encourage closer economic cooperation between them and to promote conditions of economic stability and well.being in their countries, Reaffirming their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments...Recognizing that they have the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense as affirmed in the Charter of the United Nations, Considering that they have a common concern in the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East, Having resolved to conclude a treaty of mutual cooperation and security Therefore agree as follows:

Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States of America and Japan signed on January 19, 1960

ARTICLE I The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. The Parties will endeavor in concert with other peace.loving countries to strengthen the United Nations so that its mission of maintaining international peace and security may be discharged more effectively.

ARTICLE II The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well.being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between them.

ARTICLE Ill The Parties, individually and in cooperation with each other, by means of continuous and effective self.help and mutual aid will maintain and develop, subject to their constitutional provisions, their capacities to resist armed attack.

ARTICLE IV The Parties will consult together from time to time regarding the implementation of this Treaty, and, at the request of either Party, whenever the security of Japan or international peace and security in the Far East is threatened.

ARTICLE V Each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

scuffle in the Diet over the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation treaty

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Topics in Japanese Cultural History” by Gregory Smits, Penn State University figal-sensei.org ~; Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan; Library of Congress; Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO); New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; Daily Yomiuri; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine, The Guardian, Yomiuri Shimbun, The New Yorker, AFP, Wikipedia, BBC, “Eyewitness to History”, edited by John Carey ( Avon Books, 1987), “History of Warfare” by John Keegan, Vintage Books, Eyewitness to History.com, “The Good War An Oral History of World War II” by Studs Terkel, Hamish Hamilton, 1985, BBC’s People’s War website and various books and other publications. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.

Last updated September 2016

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