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were Marxists who had been in jail since the late 1920s, when prewar
Communism was brutally suppressed. One concomitant to the release of
such prisoners and the guarantee of basic political freedoms was reestablishment of the Japan Communist Party, which soon acquired about 10
percent of the voting electorate. Japanese intellectuals rushed with eagerness to the previously forbidden fruit of Marxist ideology, and during the
first decade of the postwar period, when there was a marked abandonment of the more simplistic doctrines of historical determinism in the
West, Japanese scholars and other intellectuals vociferously proclaimed
that history had already progressed and would eventually turn out exactly
as Marx (and perhaps also Lenin) had said it would.
Even some of the more vocal critics of the United States and its postwar policies agree that the early, New Deal phase of the American occupation of Japan was an exceptionally progressive undertaking. But rapidly
changing world conditions in the late 1940s—the advent of the Cold War
and the fall of China to the Communists—exerted pressures that brought
policy shifts on the part of SCAP to the point where the second half of the
Occupation (from about 1948 until 1952) has been labeled a time of undisguised reaction or a reverse course. Clearly the revised aim of SCAP
during these years was to transform Japan from an occupied enemy country into a revitalized bastion of the Free World in its struggle to contain
the spread of Communism in Asia.
One aspect of the reverse course of the Occupation was a general relaxation of the zaibatsu-busting program in the hope of stimulating the Japanese economy, which had remained largely dormant after its devastation
during the war. Although they are alleged no longer to have the potential
for regaining their prewar stranglehold on national affairs, such combines
as Mitsui and Mitsubishi certainly have in the intervening years once
again become pervasive entities in Japanese business and commerce. But
undoubtedly the single most important boost to the economy was American military spending in Japan during the Korean War (1950–53). Partly Culture in t...
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- Spring '13