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Impact of the Potsdam Declaration on Japan

In August of 1945, Japan surrendered to the United States unconditionally ending World War II. Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and allowed the United States to occupy all of the land mass of Japan. The surrender was accomplished through the intervention of Emperor Hirohito. The Japanese Cabinet could not reach a unanimous decision to surrender which was required by the Meiji system of government. The minister of the army refused to agree to the army's dissolution as was required by the Potsdam declarations (Iokibe, 1990, p. 97). The Emperor's sacred decision and his announcement to his subjects, that the war must end to save the lives of his people, set the tone for Japan's cooperation with the United States' occupation. The Japanese military establishment knew it would be destroyed but did not oppose the emperor. During the occupation of Japan, the United States instituted lasting reforms that enabled Japan to recover from the war quickly and with a robust economy.

The Potsdam Declaration, in article 6, deprived the military in Japan of their authority and power forever (Iokibe, 1990, p. 96). This set the initial goal of the occupation--to demilitarize Japan. General MacArthur summarized the agenda of the occupation in this way:

"first destroy the military power, then build representative government, enfranchise women, free political prisoners, liberate farmers, establish free labor unions, destroy monopolies, abolish police repression, liberate the press liberalize education and decentralize political power" (Schaller, 1985, p. 24).

The initial goal of disarming and demilitarizing Japan had several effects. The labor market under Japan's militarists was in near chaos at the end of the war. When the army was disbanded it created a pool of laborers who had been exposed to military discipline and were used to accepting orders without question. These men were available to form the nucleus of a we...

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Impact of the Potsdam Declaration on Japan. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:27, September 22, 2023, from