Embracing Defeat


One of the most pernicious aspects of the occupation was that the Asian peoples who had suffered most from imperial Japan’s depredations — the Chinese, Koreans, Indonesians, and Filipinos — had no serious role, no influential presense at all in the defeated land. They became invisible. Asian contributions to defeating the emperor’s soldiers and sailors were displaced by an all-consuming focus on the American victory in the “Pacific War”. By this same process of vaporization the crimes that had been committen against Asian peoples through colonization as well as war were all the more easily put out of mind.


Because the victors had no linguistic or cultural entree to the losers’ society, they had little choice but to govern “indirectly,” through existing organs of government. This was unavoidable. As actually put into practice, however, this indirect rule led to several incongruous developments. For all practical purposes, General MacArthur’s supergovernment relied on the Japanese bureaucracy to carry out its directives, creating in effect a two-tiered mandarinate. When the Americans departed, the native mandarins carried on, stronger than they had been even during the war.

占領軍は日本の言語や文化とのつながりが無かったため、既存の政府組織を利用して「間接的に」統治する方法を選ばざるを得なかった。<中略> マッカーサー元帥の統治政府はほぼ全ての場合について、日本の官僚組織に頼って実務を遂行する羽目になり、実質的に2種類の政府組織が併存していた。アメリカが日本を離れたあと、日本の官僚組織は戦争中よりさらに強化して維持されることになった。

The emperor’s active contribution to his country’s aggression had not been negligible, although serious investigation of this was thwarted by the occupiers. His moral responsibility, in any case, was transparent; and in choosing not merely to ignore this but to deny it, the Americans came close to turning the entire issue of “war responsibility” into a joke. If the man in whose name imperial Japan had conducted foreign and military policy for twenty years was not held accountable for the initiation or conduct of the war, why should anyone expect ordinary people to dwell on such matters, or to think seriously about their own personal responsibility?