Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Joyce Mandacy




Japanese, war, new


Following the surrender of Japan on September 2 of 1945, American forces occupied Japan in an attempt to remove Japan’s ability to wage aggressive war. From 1945 to 1952, Occupation authorities in Tokyo under General Douglas MacArthur undertook a number of reforms intended to ‘demilitarize’ and ‘democratize’ Japan, some of which left major structural changes to the pre-war Japanese system. This thesis will focus on three reforms: the dissolution of Japan’s zaibatsu (large industrial conglomerates such as Nissan), democratization of the education system, and Article IX of Japan’s Constitution which bans Japan from possessing military forces. I analyze the success of each reform through the end of the Cold War by examining if their purpose and structure has remained in place. By 1947 events on the world stage, including the routing of U.S. ally Chiang Kai-Shek’s forces in China, by Mao Zedong’s communist forces, and the rapid emergence of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, became issues of immediate concern among American policymakers. In Japan, continuing economic troubles including inflation and high unemployment lead to the rise of powerful labor movements that were increasingly linked to communists. In light of these events, conservatives in the United States Government and conservatives in the Japanese government joined forces to reverse some of the early reforms hoping to create a stable country free from communist influence. Beginning in 1948, both the structure and purpose of the zaibatsu reforms were undermined as the U.S. withdrew support for the Occupation’s economic reforms, after which the conglomerates again dominated the Japanese economy. While the Ministry of Education began to regain centralized control of the education system in the 1950s, many structural changes remained in place such as teachers Unions; in addition, pacifist curriculums continue to be an important legacy of the Occupation. Finally, Article IX of Japan’s constitution has faced large challenges after independence, however, it has remained unamended 70 years later, and further, during this time Japan has not fought a war. I will argue that the education reforms and Article IX were successful because of widespread popular support while the zaibatsu reforms failed due to lack of popular support and Cold War Pressures to stabilize the economy.