The Far East
ON THE WORLD TODAY
VICTOR and vanquished in the Pacific have had over three months to take each other’s measure. During that time the main contribution to Allied policy in Japan has come from America, and we can now see something of the shape of American policy as well as the pattern of Japanese behavior. In contrast to Europe, where an attempt at joint control broke up into four separate monopolies, an original American monopoly of the Japanese home islands is moving more and more in the direction of Allied control.
It is to our advantage to share control of Japan with our allies, but there were also certain advantages in our taking the initial burden of occupation. The Japanese had long considered the United States their main enemy — the power which on more than one occasion during the present century blocked Japan’s expansion and was mostly responsible for her ignominious defeat.
They witnessed the occupation of their home islands by an orderly and well-conducted army which did not go in for looting, raping, and all the other things that their own propaganda had led the Japanese to expect. They have had time to see that the makers and users of the atomic bomb and the Superfortress are disciplined and humane in personal behavior.
Our present policies are so important for the future of Asiatic peace and prosperity that it is worth our while to give them more than cursory examination. In varying degrees we have it in our power, by what we do or do not do, to influence the domestic and international development of millions of people.
This is a situation that no one wished or planned, and that not everyone is willing to accept. By the fortunes of war we remain the greatest military and economic power in Asia, with the exception of the Soviet Union.
Few contrasts are greater than that between America and the devastated countries of the East. The problems and issues of this area are far too complicated for any one power, however strong, to handle alone, and they are too closely interrelated to be handled separately.
In dealing with Japan we have been carrying out the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, which was an Allied document. But the implementing power unavoidably makes a good deal of policy in the giveand-take of day-to-day operations. During the first stage of military occupation, General MacArthur exercised almost unlimited authority. With the publication of its outline of policy on September 22, the State Department began to move policy control back to Washington.
Behind our policy toward Asia there have always been two important assumptions. We have always thought that peace and prosperity can best be attained by seeing to it that other countries run their own affairs. It has been our hope, though not always our practice, to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Historically this principle of selfgovernment has been one of our chief weapons against the growth of European empires.
At the same time we have assumed that countries with democratic forms of government are more likely to keep the peace than those living under autocracies or even monarchies. With much more persistence in planning than we often give ourselves credit for, we have for a century attempted to achieve the fulfillment of these political principles.
Behind our policy towards Japan today is the idea that this time we shall complete a custom-made job in producing a democratic and peaceable society. We have taken measures to demilitarize Japan and to create the conditions under which Japan can become democratic.
Basic to our policy has been the assumption that the Japanese themselves must take care of the psychological adjustments and the political movements which will crush the old militaristic ideas and remake their society. It has been no surprise that initial Japanese reactions have been marked by paper reforms, delaying actions, the shuffling and reshuffling of political power, and a full exploitation of our lack of precise information about Japan.
The Japanese still talk too much about preservation of the national structure founded on the Imperial household. The Emperor took the initiative on August 19 to point out that in the construction of a new Japan “there must be no deviation from the sound principles embodied in the constitution.” He told an American correspondent that he was in favor of a constitutional monarchy like the British.
Democracy by decree
On October 11, General MacArthur ordered Premier Shidehara to reform the constitution. The Japanese countered by appointing Prince Konoye to advise the throne on this revision, which he said “depends on the Imperial discretion.”
Konoye’s attitude on the constitution is typical — revision is something to dicker about. In correcting an AP dispatch Konoye said: “It has been reported that before submitting the proposed reform bill to the Diet, I will ask the American authorities for recognition of it. This, however, means that in case of the drafting of such a bill, I might take into consideration the American wishes, unofficially.”
We have encouraged the growth of political parties. Many of the important figures in Hatoyama’s “New Liberal Party” have been equally important in the war. One of the reported members of the new “Labor Party,” Mitsu Kono, was formerly one of the reactionary leaders of the “Social Mass Party.” Even the communists have given themselves the mission of teaching democracy to the Japanese people.
Freedom of speech and press has been a big bone of contention. After the first MacArthur order, September 10, on press and radio, Asahi deliberately published “inflammable headlines” and was suspended for its pains. But this move forced MacArthur into slapping a ten-point censorship code on the press and radio “to educate the press ... in the responsibilities and meaning of a free press.”
The next Japanese move was to advertise this as enforced freedom and to stress “the progressive control being exercised by the occupation forces.” The same tactics come out in the effort to avoid the abolition of Shintoism.
Shidehara argued that it was possible to abolish the bad aspects of Shintoism without destroying the religion. Tokyo blandly broadcast in Japanese: “Some ticklish problems are involved in carrying out the United States government’s decision to abolish Shintoism. ... In the absence of specific information on what ‘field’ of Shintoism the United States government has in mind, there is room for uncertainty as to the future of the popular shrines ceremonies.”
Some difficulties have been of our own making. On September 18, Lieutenant General Kenji Doihara was appointed to take Marshal Sugiyama’s place and was formally received by General Eichelberger, who said, “The new army commander, I thought, was courteous and coöperative.” A few days later Doihara was arrested as one of the leading war criminals.
A hundred-year war
The negligible progress that we have made on the political front contrasts with the skillful job of demobilizing Japan’s forces which MacArthur completed. We have now gone far enough to know that we are dealing with an enemy who is thinking in terms of a hundred-year war and is playing a very adroit game. It is high time that American civilian control be established over the re-education of Japan. This is no job for colonels and generals who may have been anything from bank clerks to radio advertisers before the war and have no special knowledge of Japan.
There are aspects of our policy in Japan which seem almost radical when compared with policy at home. We are trying to break down the big monopolies, the Zaibatsu holdings: we are encouraging labor unions; we are putting Japan in a position where she will probably have to nationalize many of her industries.
One more thing is clear about American policy. We are trying to make changes in an orderly manner. We wish to avoid chaos. We have made it clear that we shall use, but not support, the existing Japanese political order. We have forbidden the Japanese to publish anything “detrimental to public peace and order.” We insist upon a peaceful occupation.
The same general approach is apparent in the Philippines. The President himself has asked the FBI and the Army to coöperate in tracking down collaborators and also the Hukbalahaps, the agrarian reformers who did a good job in guerrilla warfare, but did not give up their arms. From our point of view the restoration of law and order takes precedence over everything else; we feel that social change can await the processes of democratic government as and when they are set up.
A good deal of this expedient thinking lies behind our policies in China. By flying Nationalist troops to North China and transporting them to port cities, we have already given a great deal of support to the National Government in its effort to regain control over occupied territories and to unify the country.
The Russians, by signing a treaty with Chungking, went out of their way to make a bridge between American and Russian policy in China. The Communists, seeing this extension of the power of the National Government as a serious military blow to themselves, tried to block it.
In the early years of the Sino-Japanese war, the United Front between the Kuomintang and the Communists really worked. In 1939 the two parties began to split again, and before long the National Government felt it necessary to enforce a blockade around the Communist areas.
Events in China since 1928 show that Communism is very difficult to smash with force alone. There are many Chinese who know that it could be weakened by far-reaching reforms within Nationalist China, but who despair of seeing those reforms ever take shape.
How much intervention?
If we continue to support the National Government, we shall be interfering openly in the domestic affairs of China and we run the risk of incurring the enmity not only of the Communists but also of many progressive elements within Nationalist China. There is the even greater risk of fighting the Soviet Union by proxy.
The root of our dilemma lies in our apparent determination to accept and maintain the economic and social status quo while promoting political reforms in the direction of formal democracy. We are following the same policy in the Philippines, China, and other parts of the Pacific.
When we turn towards southeastern Asia we find ourselves at variance with the British, the Dutch, and the French because they are unenthusiastic about granting their colonies political independence. When we turn to the Russians we find ourselves at variance with them because they have no respect for our type of democracy and want to go ahead with sweeping social changes.
It is easy to build up a case that America supports reaction everywhere. We support Japanese reactionaries and maintain the status quo in Japan. We use the might of the United States to suppress economic reform in the Philippines. Andres Soriano, a personal friend of Franco, a Spanish citizen until November, 1941, when he became a Filipino, a member of G-2 (Army Intelligence) in Manila during the war and now an American citizen, is on General MacArthur’s staff.
Our approval, if not our active support, goes to the British, Dutch, and French in their reconquest of former colonial territories. In China the National Government, which we support, has grown increasingly reactionary.
This case is misleading. In some instances we have had no immediate alternative. We are only just ending the period of military necessity. The important point is not so much what we are doing now, as what we intend to do in the future in coöperation with or in contrast to our allies.
We must do what we can
Asia today is sick. Whatever we do, we cannot prevent, in the immediate future, civil war, disease, and mass starvation. We know something of the acute economic problems arising from the dislocation of pre-war trade. We know that Korean economy has been divided by the setting up of two political zones. We know that different regimes and interrupted communications have brought ruin and desolation in China. To think of all this in human terms defies the imagination.
We need an integrated national purpose. Just what are our ideas for the economic future of the Pacific? Have we anything more concrete to offer than the Co-prosperity Sphere? Are we maintaining the status quo in Asiatic countries because we approve of it?
Certainly there can be no refutation of the argument that tremendous social and economic changes must be made if there are not to be economic disease and political revolution on a large scale. If we are really in favor of great changes, albeit by peaceful means, we must understand the magnitude of the job before us. We need real leadership from our State Department.
If economic conflict is a cause of war, it is easy to see how fertile is the soil of Asia for future wars. If the vast contrast between American standards of living and financial power and those of Asiatic countries remains or increases, through policies of economic imperialism, we shall give to the concept of “Asia for the Asiatics" an economic base which the Japanese could never have constructed.
We must help to bring about rising standards of living and political progress in Asia. We shall have to resist the temptation to withhold credits, to secure shortterm advantages in trade, or to discourage change. By formulating and applying an integrated politicaleconomic policy, we can do a great deal toward the economic rehabilitation of Asia.