When the World War II finished, Japan was ruined. All the big cities (with the exception of Kyoto), the industries and the transportation networks were hardly damaged. An extreme shortage of food continued for many years.
The invasion of Japan by the Allied began in August 1945 and ended in April 1952. General MacArthur was its prime Supreme Commander. The entire operation was principally carried out by the United States.
The country of Japan essentially lost all the territory gained 1894. Besides, the Kurile Islands were invaded by the Soviet Union, and the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa, were restricted by the USA. Okinawa was recovered for Japan in 1972; however a territorial conflict with Russia concerning the Kurile Islands has not been resolved yet.
The remains of Japan's war machine were destroyed, and war crime trials were held. Over 500 military officers committed suicide right after Japan surrendered, and many hundreds more were executed for committing war crimes. Emperor Showa was not declared a war criminal.
A new constitution was established in 1947: The emperor lost all political and military power, and he was simply made as a symbol of the state. Universal suffrage was instituted and human rights were guaranteed. Japan was also prohibited to ever lead a war again or to maintain an army. Besides, Shinto and the state were clearly separated.
MacArthur also had the intention of breaking up power concentrations by dissolving the zaibatsu and other big companies, and by decentralizing the education system and the police. In a land reform, concentrations in land proprietorship were removed.
Particularly in the middle of the first half of the invasion, Japan's media was subject to a rigid censorship of any anti-American declarations and controversial topics such as the race issue.
The cooperation among the Japanese and the Allied powers operated relevantly smooth. Critics began to grow when the United States acted progressively according to her self interests in the Cold War, reintroduced the persecution of communists, stationed more troops in Japan, and wanted Japan to constitute an own self defence force despite the anti-war article in the constitution. Several aspects of the occupation's so called "reverse course" were welcomed by conservative Japanese politicians.
With the peace treaty that went into effect in 1952, the occupation ended. Japan's Self Defence Force was established in 1954, accompanied by large public demonstrations. Great public unrest was also caused by the renewal of the US-Japan Security Treaty of 1960.
After the Korean War, and accelerated by it, the recovery of Japan's economy flourished. The economic growth resulted in a quick rise of the living standards, changes in society and the stabilization of the ruling position of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), but also in severe pollution.
Japan's relations to the Soviet Union were normalized in 1956, the ones to China in 1972.
In the year 1973 oil crisis agitated the Japanese economy which was ponderously depended on oil. The reaction was a change to high technology industries.
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