The Good Occupation

50 Pages Posted: 25 May 2005

See all articles by Yoshiro Miwa

Yoshiro Miwa

Osaka Gakuin University

J. Mark Ramseyer

Harvard Law School

Date Written: May 2005

Abstract

Many Americans picture the Allied (i.e., U.S.) Occupation of Japan (1945-52) as the quintessentially good occupation: elaborately planned in advance, idealistically administered until derailed by anti-Communist ideologues in its later years, it laid the foundation for Japan's post-War democracy and prosperity. In fact, the Americans - especially those Americans celebrated as most "idealist" - did not plan a Japanese recovery, and for the first several years did not work for one. Instead, they mostly just planned retribution: whom to hang, and which firms to shutter. Economic issues they entrusted to Japanese bureaucrats, and those bureaucrats merely manipulated the controls they had used to disastrous effect during the War. Coming from a New Deal background in Washington, the Americans enthusiastically urged them on.

Although the Japanese economy did grow, it did not grow because of the Occupation. It grew in spite of it. In early 1949, Japanese voters overwhelmingly rejected the political parties offering economic controls. In their stead, they elected center-right politicians offering a non-interventionist platform. These politicians then dismantled the controls, and (despite strong opposition from New Deal bureaucrats in the Occupation) imposed a largely non-interventionist framework. As a result of that choice - and not as result of anything the Occupation did - the Japanese economy grew.

JEL Classification: K23, L44, L52, N45, P2

Suggested Citation

Miwa, Yoshiro and Ramseyer, J. Mark, The Good Occupation (May 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=729463 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.729463

Yoshiro Miwa

Osaka Gakuin University ( email )

2-36-1 Kishibe-Minami
Suita, Osaka 5645811
Japan

J. Mark Ramseyer (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4878 (Phone)
617-496-6118 (Fax)

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