The Narrative

During the 1930s, Japan began to expand her empire. She initially took control of Manchuria, and then proceeded to attack the rest of China. By 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, joining the alliance known as the Axis. The United States reacted by imposing economic sanctions and ceasing trade with Japan. Trade with the US was one of Japan’s most crucial sources of resources, a source that had been halted. Because of this, Japan decided to expand her empire, in order to seize the many resources around Asia.

By the early 1940s, the majority of Europe was at war against the Axis. The United States of America, however, had not been pulled into the conflict. This changed when, in December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the Naval fleet in Pearl Harbor. The fleet was heavily crippled, and the US declared war on Japan the next day. By 1942, Japan had managed to expand her territory to the Burma, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and many other Pacific islands.

The United States of America saw success as she began to such battles as the Battle of Midway, and their fights for the Solomon Islands, and Guadalcanal. The USA’s and their allies “island-hopping” continued from 1942 to 1945, regaining Japanese territories. By 1945, Japan had lost most of her previously gained territory. On August 6, 1945, the US dropped an atom bomb on the city of Hiroshima. Three days later, another atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. As well, the Soviet Union had declared war on Japan, and proceeded to invade Manchuria. Japan surrendered afterward. The formal surrender took place on September 2, 1945.

Source A – The San Francisco Peace Treaty, September 8, 1951

“WHEREAS the Allied Powers and Japan are resolved that henceforth their relations shall be those of nations which, as sovereign equals, cooperate in friendly association to promote their common welfare and to maintain international peace and security, and are therefore desirous of concluding a Treaty of Peace which will settle questions still outstanding as a result of the existence of a state of war between them;

WHEREAS Japan for its part declares its intention to apply for membership in the United Nations and in all circumstances to conform to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations; to strive to realize the objectives of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; to seek to create within Japan conditions of stability and well-being as defined in Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter of the United Nations and already initiated by post-surrender Japanese legislation; and in public and private trade and commerce to conform to internationally accepted fair practices”

Source B – An excerpt from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech on the attack on Pearl Harbor

The Video

Transcript of the video:

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, [the] United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor, looking towards the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, and his colleague, delivered to our secretary of state a formal reply to a recent American message. Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions, and well understand the implications for the very life and safety of our nation. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God [applause]. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Source C – The Jewel Voice Broadcast (Emperor Hirohito’s radio broadcast on Japan’s surrender)

Note: Translated from Japanese to English

“To our good and loyal subjects:  After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that our empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which we lay close to the heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to insure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years.  Despite the best that has been done by everyone–the gallant fighting of our military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of out servants of the State and the devoted service of our 100,000,000 people–the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives.   Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, nor to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial ancestors?  This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met death [otherwise] and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers and of those who lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude.  The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.

We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects.  However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the [unavoidable] and suffering what is unsufferable.  Having been able to save *** and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it.  Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future.  Cultivate the ways of rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.”

Source D – An excerpt of Shusenki [Account of the end of the war]

“If there is any other opinion to be presented, I would like to make my own comment.

I have carefully listened to the opposition, but my idea has little changed from what I told before. As a result of taking into full consideration the circumstances in the world and at home, I conclude that it is impossible for us to continue the war any more.

There seemingly remain some doubts about the issue of the national polity, but I interpret from the implication of the reply that the other side is considerably well-intentioned. I understand the opinions pointing out a touch of uncertainty in the attitudes on the other side, but I would not like to suspect so. In short, as the whole matter can be reduced to the faith and determination of our whole nation, I think it appropriate to accept the offer. Please think so, too.

Furthermore, it is fairly understandable to me that something like disarmament and military occupation is truly unbearable to the soldiers. But I would like to save my people’s lives even at my expense. If we continue the war, the result will be that our homeland will be reduced to ashes. It is really intolerable for me to see my people suffering any more. I cannot be accountable to the spirit of our ancestors. If we choose peace, of course we cannot put our unconditional trust on the other side. But compared to the result of losing Japan itself we can at least hope for reconstruction as long as some seeds remain.

Remembering the bitterness and grief Emperor Meiji went through in time of accepting the Tripartite Intervention. We, with the nation firmly united, should set out for a future restoration by tolerating the intolerable and bear the unbearable. I cannot be sadder when I think about soldiers dead at battlefields, those dead on their duty, and their beleaguered families. I am also deeply worried about the lives of those who suffer in war and lose their way of making their living. At this time, if there is anything I should do, I will do it. If it is to make an announcement to the nation, I will stand in front of the microphone at any time. As we have not informed people of anything so far, our sudden decision will be very disturbing to them. It is all the more so to the soldiers. It will be very difficult to sooth this disturbance, but, both the Ministers of the Army and of the Navy, please understand my feeling and make your best efforts to put the situation under firm control. If necessary, I will go to public and explain. I think we need to issue an imperial edict, so I would like the government to draft it without delay.”

The above is my idea.”

Source E – A New Constitution

The Video

Transcript: “The occupation introduced basic and fundamental political reforms that guaranteed human rights. This was carried out by the government section of SCAP which was run by General Courtney Whitney. Whitney had a core of civilian experts and these were the people, together with the Army officers, who formulated the reforms for Japan and indeed, Whitney was one of the people who helped to write the new Japanese constitution. The Meiji Constitution which the Emperor bestowed on his people in the 1880’s, placed the burden on subjects, not on government. The new constitution placed the burden on government to care and respect the needs of the Japanese people. The Japanese political order was not receptive to this. They first felt that no new constitution was needed. The Meiji Constitution was fine. It could be reinterpreted. Whitney, with MacArthur’s blessing, was adamant that there would be a new constitution and indeed, after the Japanese submitted their draft, a combination of U.S. military personnel and civilian experts in Japan, literally were locked in a room to produce a constitution. This they did in several days and the Japanese accepted the constitution. Women’s rights were enshrined in the new constitution. In pre-war years, the Japanese had been loosening up and adapting new labor laws to govern unions in Japan. The constitution accelerated this by giving labor unions great latitude and also by abolishing things such as child labor. The secret police and police repression was abolished and the right to dissent was enshrined. The document also ensured social and economic reforms to benefit the livelihood of the general public whereas before, the general public owed their livelihood to the emperor. Now the constitution said the state actually had a responsibility to the people.

Chapter two of the Japanese constitution contains probably the most famous article. That’s article nine in which Japan renounces war and the use of military force. The Japanese were receptive to it because militarism was in such disrepute because of the lost war but if MacArthur, if General Whitney in government section or if other U.S. Army senior officers were against this, it simply never would have happened. So it’s quite a testimony to MacArthur’s foresight that he was willing to endorse this idea. Armed force to settle disputes would no longer play a major part in Japan’s society and culture.”

Source F – Economic Reform

The Video

Transcript: “Underlying the whole notion of democratizing Japan was the notion that you had to break up existing economic cartels; the so called zaibatsu or financial cliques. If these were broken up, it was believed that there’d be a more equitable share of wealth in the nation and tremendous power wouldn’t be concentrated in the hands of a few people. What started out as a very harsh economic policy where the United States was not going to help Japan at all to recover economically, modified over the years to a position where the United States did assist Japan in economic rehabilitation. The idea was that the occupation was to benefit U.S. national security. It was decided that an economically viable and strong Japan would be an advantage to U.S. national security. For that reason, many of these combines, while not left intact, still were left with enormous wealth, perhaps more than many of the idealist in the occupation would have originally hoped for.

Where you do see a far reaching reform and one that plays on pre-war Japanese tendencies is in land reform. There, land is confiscated from landlords and it is redistributed to the landless on very liberal credit terms so that people can purchase land. This is a tremendous redistribution of wealth and of real estate, and again you have to remember that this is all occurring under the auspices of a U.S. Army General. Here the U.S. Army actually supported very successful efforts to redistribute land to the landless in Japan. It was a tremendous accomplishment because what it did of course is give farmers a vested interest in the society and many of the economic reforms that the occupation carried out, in effect, created a stable middle class in Japan that’s endured to this day, sixty years past the war.”

Source G – The Japanese Constitution from 1947

An excerpt from the Constitution

“We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected representatives in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for ourselves and our posterity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land, and resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government, do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution. Government is a sacred trust of the people, the authority for which is derived from the people, the powers of which are exercised by the representatives of the people, and the benefits of which are enjoyed by the people. This is a universal principle of mankind upon which this Constitution is founded. We reject and revoke all constitutions, laws, ordinances, and rescripts in conflict herewith.

We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of the high ideals controlling human relationship, and we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth. We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.

We believe that no nation is responsible to itself alone, but that laws of political morality are universal; and that obedience to such laws is incumbent upon all nations who would sustain their own sovereignty and justify their sovereign relationship with other nations.

We, the Japanese people, pledge our national honor to accomplish these high ideals and purposes with all our resources.”

DBQ

Section 1 – What are the messages of Source A and Source C? 

Source A is the introduction of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The treaty was prepared by the Allied forces and served to officially end the second World War. The treaty gave the Japan’s conditions, and resolved to engage the nations that signed the treaty, like the United States of America, and Japan in peaceful relations. Source C is the english translation of Emperor Hirohito’s radio broadcast to the population of Japan. In the broadcast, the Emperor states the situation of the empire of Japan, and informs the populace that Japan had surrendered to the Allied powers. He also encourages the populace to stay united and that Japan will have a long road to face to regain its previous glory.

Section 2 – In what ways do the two sources agree with each other? (Source A & C)

Both sources were produced during the ending stages of World War II, after the United States of America had dropped the nuclear bombs on the two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both of the sources talks of peace, and in the case of Source A; of peaceful relations between Japan and the Allied Powers. As well, both sources talk of the well-fare of Japan. Source A sought to create stability in Japan. In Source C, Emperor Hirohito tells the people of the long road ahead for the “construction for the future”, and with the peoples’ effort, Japan would keep pace with the world.

Section 3 – What is the origin, purpose, value, and limitation of Source D and Source E?

Source D is an excerpt from Shusenki, a book which accounts the end of the Pacific side of World War II. The excerpt itself is Emperor Hirohito’s dialogue in response to the debate within the Cabinet as to whether Japan should surrender. The book was written by Hiroshi Shimomura, and he wrote his experiences about what happened at the end of the war. This makes him a primary source as he was both involved and present in the events that took place that describes, in this case, the Emperor’s speech. Because the book is based on the author’s experiences, the text would inevitably be biased, even subtly, to a certain perspective, which in this case is a Japanese perspective.

The book was written to inform readers about the events that occurred the end of the Pacific side of World War 2. Because it is a book about the author’s experiences, the book is a primary source which details what occurred during the author’s experiences. Unfortunately, it is in a written media that is sold publicly. This questions the motives of the publisher, if not the author himself.

Source E is a video from the website of the army of the United States of America. This gives the army credibility, because the army would have access, if not possession of, official records and documents that document the events that surrounded the Pacific War and the events after. Unfortunately, there is also the possibility that information is selectively given or withheld that would otherwise limit the amount of content that their website and videos show.

The video that the army hosts in its website is meant to inform audiences and give them a general overview on the constitution that was written by the Allied forces and the government of Japan, for the government of Japan. Unfortunately, because the video was produced by the US Army, it is inevitable that there would be a bias for the American perspective. The video focuses on the American perspective of the writing of the new Japanese constitution.

Section 4 – How did WWII and its aftermath affect American-Japanese relations?

During the World War II, the United-States of America and Japan were at odds with each other. However, at and after the end of the war, the two countries, as well as other countries including Allied powers, collaborated to restore the damage, and to restore Japan. One example was the collaboration with the writing of a new constitution for Japan. The constitution itself affected Japan’s relations with other countries, including relations with the United States of America. Because the Allied powers were directly involved in the writing of the new Constitution, the other countries would, indubitably, have influenced the Japan would work in the future. One passage in the constitution states that “we, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time”. Additionally, the US aided in the economic reform of the entirety of Japan, part of which involved the redistribution of wealth and real-estate. According to the US Army, the break up of the economic zaibatsu and farmers’ gain of economic importance has assisted in the stability of the middle-class that still exists today.

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