The American Occupations of Japan and Germany

Comparing the Occupations

MacArthur and Hirohito during the early occupation. Notice the difference in dress and demeanor .

Audio: Comparing and Contrasting the Occupations (8:56)

Because of their similar time lines and similar results, there is a lot we can learn in comparing and contrasting the occupations of Japan and Germany. First their similarities:

  1. Both occupations were run in the most undemocratic way possible, by a General at the top of the command chain: Douglas MacArthur in Japan and Lucius Clay in Germany.
  2. Both Clay and MacArthur attempt to break up the huge cartels that controlled so much of economic life in both countries before and during the war.
  3. Both Clay and MacArthur sought to impose democracy from above not only in political institutions, but in educational and cultural institutions as well.
  4. Both Japan and Germany get billions of dollars in direct US aid to their countries and economies.
  5. Both Clay and MacArthur allow anti-communism to to overshadow other concerns when dictating occupation policies and goals.
Occupation zones in Germany. Notice the beige colors, those represent parts of Germany incorporated into other countries. Poland in particular got a lot of land from Germany at the end of the war.

Perhaps even more instructive are the differences between the occupations:

  1. There is no joint occupation in Japan as there is in Germany.
  2. In Japan MacArthur and the Occupation openly embraced the Japanese Emperor and other former elites.
  3. Germany takes responsibility for the war, Japan does not.
  4. Japan renounces its military, Germany does not.


Isolationism and Empire Copyright © by James McKay. All Rights Reserved.

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