Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy
On 15 August 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, thus bringing the Second World War to an end. Under the leadership of the Supreme Command for the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur, Japan underwent a process of social and political reform. The USA aimed to ensure that Japan would not endanger international peace and security.
For instance, SCAP broke up the business conglomerates, also known as Zaibatsus, which used to support Japan’s warmongering conquests in Asia. In 1947, a new Constitution was established, which included a noteworthy Article 9 that prohibited Japan from maintaining a military force.
The postsurrender instructions given MacArthur recommended dissolution of “large Japanese industrial and banking combines or other large concentrations of private business control.” This concern reflected the fact that some ten zaibatsu families controlled nearly three fourths of Japan’s industrial, commercial, and financial resources. Obviously, any program to curb this power and redistribute the “ownership and means of production and trade” required a tremendous effort and will.An excerpt taken from “The American Occupation of Japan: The Origins of the Cold War in Asia” by Michael Schaller.
The Red Menace: Cold War tensions in East Asia
However, the rise of Communist China in 1949 as well as the start of the Korean War a year later provoked the USA. Fearing the fall of Japan to Communism, the ‘Reverse Course’ (逆コース, gyaku kōsu) policy was launched, which implied a shift in American policies towards Japan from demilitarisation to economic reconstruction and remilitarisation.
The onset of the Cold War altered U.S. thinking about Japan, which suddenly took on a new strategic significance, and a “reverse course” was initiated in 1947. […] Behind the reverse course were concerns about the spread of communism. Global politics once again conspired to intervene in Japanese politics. The victory of Mao Zedong’s communist forces over the Kuomintang (the nationalists) in 1949, the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, and the Soviet Union’s grip on Central and Eastern Europe created concern in Washington that communism could spread to a weak Japan.An excerpt taken from “Comparative Politics: Interests, Identities, and Institutions in a Changing Global Order” by Jeffrey Kopstein, Mark Lichbach and Stephen E. Hanson.
From then on, the Japanese economy recovered and soon became one of the most prominent competitors in the global markets. Its economic miracle was heavily studied by academics.
What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the USA played a paramount role in realising the economic miracle of Japan after World War Two?
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