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The Japanese people consider the love of learning to be one of life's main virtues. That fact has led to education playing a crucial role in their culture, especially since the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Virtually all Japanese people complete education through the high school (also called upper secondary) level, and most go on to further technical or university training. This emphasis on the value of education has contributed to the success of Japan in the modern world.
Despite its overall exemplary record in education, Japan does face some serious challenges in the new century. For example, minorities such as the native Ainu and the Korean-Japanese still do not participate adequately in the educational system. Also, the system has been criticized for focusing too much on test-taking and not enough on critical-thinking skills. Because many parents believe public school fails to prepare students adequately, they send their students to juku (private academies), after school and on weekends, to prepare for the next level within or beyond the public school system. But the Japanese educational system does satisfy the needs of the vast majority of the population and has helped the nation compete on the international scene for over 100 years.
The Ancient Period: Formal education in Japan started when the Chinese language system was introduced into Japan in about 500 A.D. At that time only the aristocracy had access to education through schools that primarily taught Confucianism and Buddhist thought and practice. The first real school, the Daigakuryo (the university), was started by Emperor Tenji during this period. Located in the capital of Kyoto, the Daigakuryo focused mainly on providing prospective government officials with a background in Confucian practice that would relate to their future jobs. Later the school became an official institution under the Taiho Code of 701. Young men usually entered the university in their early to mid-teens. When they graduated, they were placed in government positions at levels that corresponded to their success at the university. The Taiho Code also called for establishing colleges called kokugaku, located in each of the country's provincial areas. Besides teaching the Chinese classics, these early provincial schools provided training in medicine and in divination.
During the Heian Period (794-1185 A.D.), the height of Japan's aristocratic age, educational institutions continued to be focused on the nobility and were located in the capital of Kyoto. However, the curriculum of the Daigakuryo made a transition from Confucianism to the arts, reflecting the great emphasis on aesthetics during the Heian Period. Perhaps more than any other time in Japanese history, this period placed the highest value on the ideal of courtly love through the medium of poetry, music, visual art, calligraphy, and dance. Such refinements were of course reserved for those privileged to be educated in the court. Education also continued to take place in the Buddhist temples, both in the capital and in the provinces. After completing their training, priests became the primary means for providing education to those who were not among the aristocracy.
Thus education and religion were intertwined during the ancient period. Two of the most prominent figures in religious education were Saicho (767-822) and Kukai (774-835). Saicho established the Enryakuji Temple at Mt. Hiei near Kyoto. Besides being the center during the Heian Period for educating monks in the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became a focal point for Japanese religious education for hundreds of years. Saicho's friend and rival, Kukai, established a monastery on Mt. Koya, which became the educational center for Shingon Buddhism. Kukai's central role in the history of Japanese education is evidenced by his having invented Kana, the Japanese alphabet, and by his effort to establish a school that addressed the needs of commoners, a group not enrolled in the Daigakuryo or the kokugaku. His private academy, the Shugei Shuchiin, did not exclude the lower classes and promoted the personal, moral, spiritual, and intellectual development of its students.
Medieval Period: During the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) and the Muromachi Period (1333-1573), Japanese education paralleled the militarism of the times. With the rise to power of the bushi (warrior class, made up of samurai) and the shogun (chief lord and military dictator), education in the cities and countryside added skills for warfare to the religious training. A departure from the aesthetics of the Heian Period, the medieval education for warriors included training in weaponry and horseback riding&mdashwhile still teaching young samurai the importance of good manners and knowledge of their culture. Schooling revolved around the warrior's home, the estate of his lord, and the local temples. As for the shogunate and the ruling families, there continued to be educational opportunities unavailable to commoners.
Rather than start new schools, however, the shogunate established several major learning centers that contained libraries open to scholars and members of the priesthood. A famous one called the Kanazawa Library opened in 1275 and remains open today as a museum. Another medieval Japanese educational center, the Ashikaga School, opened in 1439 and offered curricula in Confucianism and military science. Thus even schools and libraries for the ruling class focused on traditional Confucian values and on military education, matching the cultural themes of the age.
Toward the end of the medieval period, Japan's educational system was subjected to a new influence&mdashJesuit Catholic missionaries, beginning with the arrival of Francis Xavier in 1549. These missionaries established schools and churches that emphasized general education, vocational training, Western technology, and&mdashof course&mdashChristianity. Although Christianity was banned less than a century after Xavier came to Japan, and wasn't permitted back into the country for more than two centuries, it did help shape education in late medieval Japan.
Early Modern Period: The early modern period in Japan comprises the years of the Tokugawa Period (1600-1868), during most of which Japan remained isolated from the rest of the world. One positive byproduct of this isolation was that the country could focus on the development of its own culture, including the educational system. Although the very best education remained open only to the upper classes, the period did witness the spread of education among the commoners in a way that had not occurred previously in Japan. By the end of the period, about 40 percent of the boys and 10 percent of the girls were provided education outside the home. These figures probably meant Japan's education opportunities and literacy rate were ahead of most countries in the world, with the exception of two or three nations in the West.
The Tokugawa educational system included several main types of schools such as the hanko, terakoya, Shoheiko, and shijuku. Established in each of the domains of the daimyo (lords), the hanko mainly educated the children of the lord's samurai on topics related to Confucianism. Only later in the Tokugawa Period did the schools enroll a wider range of social classes and expand their curriculum to include non-Confucian topics such as medicine, Japanese studies, and Western science.
Unlike the hanko, the terakoya were independent schools intended mainly for the children of the merchants and townspeople&mdashnot the samurai. Usually set up in Buddhist temples, they offered instruction in a wide range of basic subjects such as penmanship, reading, and arithmetic. Children entered at the age of seven or eight and stayed for about three or four years. In addition to the terakoya were the shijuku, private academies that often were housed in the homes of the teachers and that focused on subjects usually considered to be the favorite fields of the teacher. Finally, the Tokugawa Period also had an official school of the shogunate called the Shoheiko, located in Edo (Tokyo). Here the children of the nation's leaders were educated by Confucian scholars.
Thus far our discussion of educational opportunity in Japan has mostly included only male children. Girls generally were not sent to schools and instead were trained at home in matters of homemaking and etiquette. Although a few girls may have been exposed to education in literature and the arts, most were not. However, opportunities for girls to receive an education did increase in the closing years of the period, with an increase in female students in terakoya and even the start of a few schools exclusively for girls. But the curriculum in these schools was slanted toward nonintellectual subjects such as tea ceremony, flower arranging, and etiquette.
Modern Period: The modern period in Japan began with the restoration of the emperor in 1868, about 15 years after the country had been "opened" to the outside world by the expeditionary tour of U.S. Admiral Matthew Perry. This period saw a tremendous amount of educational reform as the country sought to catch up to the West after more than 200 years of virtual isolation. Although World War II, including its prelude and aftermath, certainly devastated Japan's educational system, the country has witnessed unparalleled educational advancement from the Meiji Period to the present.
Educational goals in the modern period were reflected in the Gokajono Goseimon, the Imperial Oath of Five Articles (or Charter Oath) issued by the emperor in 1868. Article 5 best articulated Japan's international objectives for education that would become the theme of the modern era: "knowledge shall be sought all over the world, and the foundations of imperial rule shall be strengthened." The document also made it clear that "the common people. shall all achieve their aspirations," thus setting out a second basic theme of education in Japan's modern era: availability of the appropriate level of education to all the people.
Four years into the Meiji Period, the government issued the Educational Order of 1872 (Gakusei,) which formed the basis for the modern public system of education in Japan. The Gakusei called for strong control of education by the central government and integrated many of the Tokugawa-era schools into the new system. For example, the terakoya&mdashpreviously the schools in the provinces for commoners&mdashwere transformed into the new primary schools. These primary schools formed the core of the new public school system and numbered 25,000 by the mid-1870s. Students throughout the nation were required to attend primary school. Although schooling was compulsory, the cost still had to be paid by the students' families. Resentment toward the new system led to several later revisions, including Kyoikurei, the Education Order of 1879. It permitted more local control of the curriculum and school policies, and it also relaxed the compulsory requirements.
Despite these revisions, the trend toward national standards for public education continued throughout the rest of the modern era, as did the effort to bring basic education to all the people. The end of the shogunate in 1868 meant an end to the class system that had created significant differences between education for the lords and samurai families and the common people. Now the four former classes&mdashsamurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants&mdashwere viewed as equal participants in the new schooling.
Besides the new primary (also called elementary) schools, Japan's modern educational system included two other main elements: secondary schools and universities. Secondary school was not yet compulsory and was intended for children deserving of additional training. Then, an even smaller group of highly qualified candidates would proceed on to the university system. The most distinguished university of the period was Tokyo University, which had its roots in the elite shogunate institutions of the past. It became the forerunner of other imperial universities such as those established in Kyoto, Tohohu, Kyusha, Hokkaido, Osaka, and Nagoya. Private universities that began during the period include Keio, Waseda, Doshisha, Meiji Gakuin, and Tsudajuku.
During the early years of the Meiji Period, there was a strong and intentional reliance on Western assistance in the development of all levels of education. The government sent emissaries abroad to learn as much as possible about all elements of Western culture, including education, so that Japan could achieve Western-style success in technological advancement. The most famous group to go abroad was the Iwakura Mission, a large group of high-ranking government officials and students that traveled to the United States and Europe from 1871 to 1873. Such missions had a strong influence over the curricula adopted at all levels of schooling in Japan.
Just as important as the Japanese missions to the West were the Western experts who traveled to Japan in the 1870s and 1880s. David Murray, hired to serve as an advisor to the Ministry of Education, came to Japan in 1873 and worked on a wide range of new educational initiatives, including the Education Order of 1872. He also was instrumental in having the government establish the Tokyo Women's Normal School, as well as being heavily involved in planning Tokyo University. Like other Western experts, Murray faced the challenge of deciding what combination of Western and native Japanese features would produce the best educational system for modern Japan. That's the challenge Japan faced throughout the period during which Western influence was strong.
Another Western contributor to the development of Japanese education was James Curtis Hepburn, a missionary doctor who came to Japan in 1859, just six years after Admiral Perry's arrival. Hepburn founded Meiji Gakuin University, became the university's first president, invented a system of Romanizing the Japanese language, and took part in translating the Bible into Japanese. Many other Western Christians were instrumental in promoting education in Meiji Japan, including those who established the so-called "Schools of Western Learning." The three most famous such schools, or "bands" as they were called, were located in Kumamoto, Sapporo, and Yokohama. The Kumamoto Band was led by an American teacher, L. L. Janes, who taught a Western curriculum of mathematics, history, and English, but who also exposed his young sons-of-samurai students to the tenets of Christianity. These young men in the Western bands learned about Western science, technology, and religion. Some of the early leaders of modern Japan were Christian, even though Christianity remained a minority religion in Japan, never gaining more than 1 percent to 2 percent of the population.
Perhaps Japan's best-known private university, Doshisha University, was founded in 1875 by Niijima Jo, a former member of the Kumamoto Band, and by Jerome Davis, a Congregational minister. Niijima was one of the first Japanese to be educated in the United States (at Amherst College). Like some other private universities in Japan, Doshisha adopted curricula similar to that of Western educational institutions. It has six main academic groupings&mdashtheology, law, economics, letters, commerce, and engineering&mdashwith over 25,000 students enrolled.
Doshisha also was the first university in Japan to admit women. Private universities served an important role in coeducation in that the government, in 1879, restricted coeducation to the primary (or elementary) schools. It was only through the support of private groups that high schools and university-level education became available to women. Christian missionaries were particularly active in supporting coeducational and women's high schools and colleges. Also serving an important role in the development of women's education during the Meiji Period was Tsuda Umeko, who had been a student member of the Iwakura Mission in 1871 and became one of the first Japanese women to study in the United States. After completing studies at Bryn Mawr College and also working as a tutor and teacher of young women in Japan for many years, Tsuda founded the Women's English School (now called Tsuda College) in Tokyo in 1900. The government did strongly support coeducation in primary schools in the Meiji Period, but it took support from many dedicated individuals and private groups to maintain educational opportunities for women at the high school and postsecondary levels.
Notwithstanding the efforts Japan was making to pattern much of its modern education after Western content and procedures, by 1890 there was strong sense among many leaders that the nation also needed to emphasize "moral education" that was unique to Japan. The document that resulted from this concern for morality in education was the Imperial Rescript on Education, issued on October 30, 1890, in the name of the Emperor Meiji. Written with the advice and counsel of the Confucian scholar, Nagazane Motoda, the Rescript made clear the essential connection between the education of the people and the tenets of Confucian thought and loyalty to the emperor. A few excerpts from the 315-word document follow:
Know ye, Our subjects: Our Imperial Ancestors have founded Our Empire on a broad basis and everlasting. Our subjects, ever united in loyalty and filial piety, have from generation to generation illustrated the beauty thereof. This is the glory of the fundamental character of Our Empire, and herein lies the source of Our education. Ye, Our subjects, be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters as husbands and wives be harmonious, as friends true bear yourselves in modesty and moderation extend your benevolence to all pursue learning and cultivate arts, and thereby develop intellectual faculties and perfect moral powers furthermore advance public good and promote common interests always respect the Constitution and observe the laws. and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth.
The promulgation of this document served as a corrective measure to the more liberal Western influences on education since the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. Distributed throughout the country by the Ministry of Education, the Rescript reminded the populace that education was inextricably connected to the nation's needs, to traditional Confucian values, and to an Imperial House descended from Heaven. It was read during ceremonial events in schools throughout the nation, with the appropriate bowing required. Though generally accepted by the people, one famous incident of an inappropriate response remains well known in Japan even today. Uchimura Kanzo, a high school teacher who had been educated in Japan and in the United States, apparently failed to bow deferentially enough to the Emperor's signature on the Rescript when it was read at his school. This incident led to his leaving the school, after which he became a famous journalist and religious figure until his death in 1930. In about 1900 Uchimura founded what became the largest branch of indigenous Christianity in Japan, Mukyokai, or nonchurch Christianity.
By the end of the 1900s, Japan had seen considerable development of all parts of its education system&mdashboth under the influence of Western experts and under the watchful eye of nationalists who made certain the country retained its Confucian and imperial focus. With direction from the Ministry of Education&mdashand its influential first minister, Mori Arinori&mdashthe country had a compulsory primary school system throughout the country about 500 secondary schools throughout the country, with some providing technical training and others providing traditional academic subjects and an elite system of public and private universities that prepared students for teaching, medicine, law, government service, and other professions.
In the early years of the twentieth century, attendance in primary schools continued to rise to over 90 percent, and in 1907 the years of compulsory education were increased from three to six. From the 1890s to the start of World War I, Japan's rush to industrialize and to create a strong military led to a greater focus on industrial education and training than in the past. Victories in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) had stimulated this change in direction. Japanese education came somewhat under the influence of the democratic, socialistic, and related worldwide movements that were "in the air" after World War I and after the Russian Revolution. One example was the Shin Kyoiku Undo (New Education Movement), which emphasized the individuality of children and encouraged each child's effort to demonstrate initiative in ways that were largely not reflected in conventional Confucian education. Although this movement lost favor when a more conservative climate returned during the militarism of the 1930s, it did significantly influence the direction of Japanese education during the Taisho Period (1912-1926). Another noteworthy trend of the period after World War I was the expansion in the number of colleges and universities. The University Order of 1918 stimulated this growth by extending government recognition to postsecondary institutions that were not associated with the government. Students surged into the private schools as a result of this change.
The militarism of the 1930s and the beginning of World War II ended Japan's brief period during which progressive ideas had been promoted in education. Now the schools could best be characterized as tools of the state. Even the name of primary schools was changed to kokumin gakko, or national people's schools, reflecting their mission of training loyal subjects for the Japanese empire. Graduates of the kokumin gakko were obligated to attend seinen gakko, schools that emphasized the kinds of vocational skills that would serve the country in its effort to marshal a major militaristic expansion. Even textbooks were used during the wartime period to reinforce the ultranationalistic objectives of the state. One set of texts, called the Kokutai No Hongi (Cardinal Principles of the National Entity), served the government's purpose to control the people's thinking and their access to a full range of historical information.
After its defeat in World War II, Japan was occupied by the Allied Forces under the command of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur. From 1945 until 1952, the Occupation forces aimed to transform Japan into a democracy and to demilitarize the country. A significant part of the plan involved altering the educational system that had been part of the prewar and wartime culture. The socalled "moral education," central to the ultranationalism of the wartime period, was ended. The major catalyst for all changes was the United States Educational Missions to Japan, which took place from 1946 to 1950. The recommendations of these missions formed the plans by which education was reformed after the War.
The centerpiece of the postwar educational transformation in Japan was a series of reforms that took place in 1947. They were overseen by SCAP and by the Education Reform Council, consisting of Japanese civilians. At the core of the reforms was the Fundamental Law of Education, which replaced the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education that had been issued by the Emperor Meiji. Consisting of a preamble and 11 articles, the law replaced the former emphasis on training to be a loyal subject of the emperor with a new focus on the following principles: equal opportunity to education for all citizens, coeducation, the full development of one's personality, an appreciation and respect for truth and justice, and a new emphasis on academic freedom for faculty. Following are some specific features of the reformed system:
- The 6-3-3-4 structure with six years of primary school (also called elementary school), three years of lower secondary school (also called middle school or junior high school), three years of upper secondary school (also called high school), and four years of university
- Compulsory education for nine years&mdashthat is, both for primary and lower secondary school
- Education of handicapped persons
- Replacement of government-produced textbooks with texts that were published privately, with less involvement by the government than in the past
- New emphasis on the training of public school teachers at the university level
- Shift from total central control of education to much greater autonomy in villages, cities, and prefectures
- Permission to have teacher unions and other support organizations such as parent-teacher groups
Most reforms were retained after the Occupation ended, but there was some backtracking when a conservative government came to power in 1956. For example, the government increased its efforts to review textbooks, influence appointments to local school boards, place restrictions on leftist teachers' unions, and reestablish some level of moral education in the school system.
The decades since the 1950s have brought few structural changes to Japanese education. However, a number of social and political events have related to education, such as the following: criticism of government influence on textbooks in the 1960s student demonstrations in 1968 against rising costs of a university education the introduction in 1979 of a common general admission exam for public universities and concern that private academies are needed to supplement a child's public education if he or she is to have a good chance of being accepted to a university.
Japan Received First Written Constitution - History
France’s current republic, the Fifth Republic, was established with the adoption of a new constitution on October 4, 1958, with direct presidential elections introduced in 1962. The Constitution of the Fifth Republic strengthened de Gaulle’s powers as head of state at the expense of parliament and the judiciary. The Constitution also draws inspiration from the first French Constitution, and incorporates the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen by a reference in its preamble.
France has a semi-presidential system. The President is elected by universal suffrage for a five year term, and may serve no more than two consecutive terms (down since 2002 from the previous no-limits seven year term) using a two-round majority system: if no candidate receives an absolute majority of the vote, a second round takes place between the top two vote-getters from the first round. To take part in the election, candidates must obtain 500 sponsoring signatures of elected officials from at least 30 departments or overseas territories.
The President is head of state and supreme commander of the military, and chairs the cabinet.
The Council of Ministers
The President appoints the Prime Minister, who nominates the other ministers for appointment by the President. The Prime Minister and cabinet can only be removed by the National Assembly, to which they are collectively responsible. As the National Assembly has tended to have a majority belonging to the President’s party or coalition, the President and the Prime Minister have tended to come from the same political party. Sometimes, however, the National Assembly has been controlled by the party opposing the president, leading to a divided executive where the President and Prime Ministers came from different parties. This is called cohabitation. There have been three periods of cohabitation, lasting a total of nine years. While the President retains an independent power in determining foreign policy, all domestic decisions made by the President must be approved by the Prime Minister. Cabinet ministers determine policy and put new legislation before parliament. In practice, the Presidents exerts a great deal of influence over a cabinet of the same political colour, including the effective power to dismiss a cabinet, but much less in cases of cohabitation
The President has the power to dissolve the National Assembly and call new elections, but no more than once per year. He has no veto over legislation, although he may return a bill to parliament for reconsideration if passed again, the bill must be promulgated as law. The President may be removed by Parliament sitting as the High Court (impeachment) for “a breach of his duties patently incompatible with his continuing in office”. This process is initiated by one house, with the other house issuing a ruling by secret ballot, in which a two-thirds majority is necessary for a removal. On the request of the Prime Minister or both houses of parliament, the President may call a binding referendum on many issues. In practice, presidents have been able to call referenda without such request, as the Constitutional Council held the results to be valid under the principle of popular sovereignty.
The French parliament is bicameral, consisting of the Senate and the National Assembly. The National Assembly is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term. It currently consists of 577 Deputies elected (according to the electoral law) from single-seat districts by two-round plurality: if no candidate received a majority of the votes in the first round, any candidate which received votes equivalent to at least 12.5% of registered votes may take part in the second round, in which the candidate with most votes wins. A candidate for an election must be a citizen, have attained the age of 18 years, be qualified to vote, not be ineligible by dint of a criminal conviction or judicial decision, and have a bank account.
The Senate is elected indirectly by electoral colleges for each department (district), consisting of a total of more than a hundred thousand councilors from the different levels of local government. The electoral system is proportional in departments with three seats or more, but majoritarian in departments with one or two seats. The departments are divided into two classes, so that half of all Senators are elected each three years, for a term of six years. Originally, Senators served nine-year terms but this was reduced to six in 2004.
The National Assembly is far more powerful than the Senate. When there is disagreement between the two houses, the government calls a conference committee of representatives from both houses. If one of the houses rejects the committee’s compromise proposal, or a compromise cannot be reached, the government can ask the National Assembly to make the final decision. The government is quite dominant over parliament, having other considerable powers over the legislative procedure, including when debate ends on a government bill and which amendments are debated. It can also make a finance or social security financing bill into a confidence vote, which is considered to have passed the National Assembly unless the government is voted out by a non-confidence vote. Furthermore, if parliament does not reach a decision on a finance bill or a social security financing bill within 70 or 50 days, respectively, the government is empowered to pass such legislation by decree. The autonomy of parliament is also restricted, as each house is not allowed to form more than eight committees.
There are multiple final courts in France, each with its own jurisdiction. The Court of Cassation hears appeals on criminal and civil cases the Council of State hears administrative appeals a jurisdictional court decides in case of conflict between the civil and administrative systems of justice. The Court of Cassation and Council of State each consist of more than a hundred judges, who hear different kinds of cases in small panels. The Council of State also has an advisory role, reviewing government bills before they are submitted to parliament as well as decrees and delegated legislation. Judges are appointed to the Court of Cassation by the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature (Supreme Council of the Judiciary), which is also in charge of disciplining judges. The Supreme Council consists of the President of the Republic (presiding), the Minister of Justice (as vice-president), four judges and four legal department lawyers (one in each group appointed by the President of the Republic, the President of each House of Parliament, and one elected by the assembly of the Council of State), and six judges and six legal department lawyers elected by their colleagues to represent each of their ranks the president and vice-president are ex-officio, the others serve for a renewable four-year term. The Council of States consists of various members: most are appointed based on competitive examinations, some are appointed by the President of the Republic, and others appointed by the government. Cases of misconduct by ministers are heard in the Court of Justice of the Republic, which consists of six parliamentarians elected from each house and three judges of the Court of Cassation.
The Constitutional Council handles constitutional issues. It consists of nine regular members who are appointed by the President, the President of the Senate, or the President of the National Assembly every three years for a nine-year, non-renewable term. In addition, former Presidents of the Republic are also members of the Constitutional Council, by right (currently there are three such members). The Council must confirm ex ante the constitutionality of all organic laws before promulgation, as well as regular laws challenged by the President, the Prime Minister, a president of one of the houses, 60 Senators, or 60 Deputies. Constitutional amendments in 2008 extended the powers of the Council to review the constitutionality of laws after their promulgation when a case concerning fundamental rights arises in the context of court cases.
Constitutional amendment procedure
A constitutional amendment can be proposed by the President on advice of the Prime Minister or by members of parliament. It must be passed by both houses of parliament sitting separately and ratified by referendum. If the amendment is a government proposal, it may be ratified by a three-fifths majority of a joint session of parliament.
Japan has continued its close cooperation with the United States, but it also has sought to rebuild relations with its Asian neighbours. Despite the rapid political transformation of the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, ties between the United States and Japan have been little altered in their fundamental tenets. Both countries officially remained committed to the Mutual Security Treaty, which keeps Japan under the U.S. nuclear weapons “umbrella” and permits thousands of U.S. troops to be stationed there, particularly on Okinawa however, many Japanese favour redefining the relationship between the two countries and reducing the number of U.S. troops.
Economic issues have often strained U.S.-Japanese relations, as Japan’s resurgence in the early postwar decades transformed the country from a client to a competitor of the United States. Such a change has not been easy. Trade issues sometimes have been particularly acrimonious, intensified by essential misunderstandings on solutions proposed by each side. While friction on economic issues has removed some of the harmony that once typified the relationship between the two countries, there nevertheless remains substantial goodwill, both countries realizing that, as the dominant economic and military powers of the Asian Pacific region, their bilateral relationship is the most important in East Asia.
The end of the Cold War provided Japan with the opportunity to pursue an independent China policy. Following Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei’s trip to China in 1972, which began the process of normalizing relations between the two countries, Japan vigorously pursued trade opportunities with China, and in 1978 a peace treaty and the first of a series of economic pacts were concluded. Both trade and cultural contacts between Japan and China expanded dramatically, and by the early 1990s China was Japan’s second largest trading partner, surpassed only by the United States. Tensions occasionally have arisen between the two countries over issues such as Chinese objections to the Japanese attitude toward its wartime conduct and its colonial rule of China and to visits by Japanese officials to the Yasukuni Shrine or to Japanese protests of the Chinese repression of demonstrators in 1989. The visit to China by Emperor Akihito in 1992, however, which included a tacit apology for the “severe suffering” that the Japanese had inflicted on the Chinese during the war, demonstrated that Japan was determined not just to build economic ties with China but also to transcend the gap that stemmed from the war and to restore cultural ties. Nevertheless, the political relationship between the two countries remained uneasy into the 21st century.
Although Japan’s formal relationship with Taiwan was discontinued after 1978, Taiwan continued to play an important role for Japan, particularly since the late 1980s, when Japan sought to strengthen its ties with the so-called newly industrialized countries of Asia ( South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, as well as Hong Kong when it was a British colony). These were all seen as areas capable of providing high-quality goods for the Japanese market and consequently as sites for direct investment by Japanese firms. Earlier Japanese concerns that these countries would become competitors with Japan for the U.S. market faded as economic interaction between them created a highly dynamic economic region.
Efforts to solidify relations with Southeast Asia advanced in the late 20th century. Lingering resentment over the war and the insensitive attitudes of Japanese businessmen toward local populations in the 1960s produced anti-Japanese riots when Prime Minister Tanaka toured the region in 1974. Anger against Japan and feelings of Japanese exploitation in the region continued into the 1980s, when efforts were made to improve the situation. Southeast Asian nations—particularly Indonesia—became recipients of extensive Japanese development aid. Japan also made efforts to work with Vietnam and Cambodia. Japan’s interests in Vietnam have been largely economic, but in Cambodia Japan played an important role in working out the 1991 UN Security Council “peace plan” and helped with its implementation the following year through passage of the International Peace Cooperation Law by the Diet, unarmed troops from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces participated in a UN peacekeeping operation, the first time since the World War II that Japanese forces had ventured overseas.
The Japanese government also sought to address lingering animosities that existed toward Japan on the Korean peninsula. Formal statements of apology to Korea for Japan’s colonial rule were issued (most notably by Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi in 1995), visits were made by the leaders of Japan and South Korea to each other’s countries, and bilateral trade agreements were negotiated. However, such positive steps tended to be offset by events that often angered South Korea: occasional statements by Japanese government officials that seemed to defend Japan’s colonial and wartime actions (including the forced prostitution of Korean women during the war), continued periodic prime ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, and revelations that Japan’s colonial rule was positively depicted in Japanese textbooks. A further issue for South Korea was the status of Koreans living in Japan, many of whom were third- or fourth-generation Japanese-born. Despite these differences, in 2002 Japan and South Korea cohosted the association football (soccer) World Cup finals, the first time the event was held in Asia or staged jointly by two countries.
Relations with Russia have remained decidedly cool. A formal peace treaty was never concluded with the Soviet Union before its dissolution. The major sticking point for the Japanese has been the disposition of the “northern territories,” the four small islands in the southern Kuril chain that the Russians seized following World War II. The Japanese have sought the return of these islands and have been reluctant to grant Russia development aid without an agreement. Negotiations with Russia to resolve the issue continued throughout the 1990s and into the early 21st century.
The American Woman Who Wrote Equal Rights Into Japan's Constitution
As a 22-year-old military aide, Beate Sirota Gordon gave Japan's new founding document its own version of the Equal Rights Amendment.
American efforts to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution have failed since the early 1920s. But, in 1946, a 22-year-old naturalized American citizen participating in a secret crash project in occupied postwar Japan succeeded in writing two strikingly simple but powerful clauses into the modern Japanese constitution that stipulate equality among the sexes as well as civil rights for women involving marriage, money, and family.
The young woman, Beate Sirota Gordon, later became a well-known, decorated figure in Japan for her pathbreaking efforts. But she was never widely known in her adopted country. Gordon died last Sunday at age 89 at her home in Manhattan. The women's rights provisions, drafted under pressure in a seven-day period in early 1946 under Gen. Douglas MacArthur's charge, live on today in the Japanese constitution.
Gordon's remarkable talents and personal history put her in the right place at the right time. Born in Vienna in 1923, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, she grew up in Tokyo from ages 5 to 15, where her father, a renowned concert pianist, taught and performed. In 1939, her parents sent her to Oakland, Calif. to study at Mills College.
As a fellow alumna, I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing Gordon speak twice in recent years, including a memorable 2011 commencement speech at Mills, the oldest women's college in the West. This elegant and eloquent white-haired woman recalled her first years in America, where, in December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she lost all contact with her parents in wartime Japan, as well as their financial support. A student of modern languages and literature, including Japanese, English, German, French, Spanish, and Russian, she was recruited to work at a U.S. listening post in San Francisco monitoring Japanese radio broadcasts.
At the time, Gordon said, "there were only 65 Caucasians in the whole of the U.S. who knew Japanese." So she was highly sought after, and her skills helped her move to the U.S. Office of War Information. She earned her Mills undergraduate degree in 1943 and became a U.S. citizen in early 1945.
Gordon went to work in Washington, D.C., as an interpreter on General MacArthur's staff, and, on Christmas Eve, 1945, arrived in Tokyo as part of his team to find her parent's home devastated and their whereabouts unknown. She said she was the first civilian American woman to work in postwar Japan . In February 1946, she worked in Tokyo on a top-secret project to draft a new Japanese constitution. Her assignment: women's rights.
Despite her young age, while growing up Gordon "had seen discrimination against women in Japan," she told the Mills commencement audience. "Women had no rights at all. The arranged marriages were often unhappy. The women sometimes did not even meet their future spouses until just before the wedding. Women were not trained for careers and thus could not obtain work that interested them. Women had no inheritance rights, no rights to choose their own domicile."
With a tough deadline, she headed for the library, searching through copies of constitutions from other countries. She drafted two provisions that included broad equal rights language -- "All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin" -- as well as specific civil rights for women:
Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis. With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes.
The new Japanese constitution went into effect in 1947. "It set a basis for a better, a more equal society," Carol Gluck, a Columbia University professor of Japanese history, said in an excellent New York Times obituary of Gordon. "By just writing those things into the [Japanese] Constitution -- our Constitution doesn't have any of those things -- Beate Gordon intervened at a critical moment. And what 22-year-old gets to write a constitution?"
Gordon found her parents alive but malnourished in the Japanese countrywide, and went on to marry Joseph Gordon, chief of the interpreter team for American military intelligence in postwar Japan. She settled in Manhattan for the rest of her life, working for more than three decades at the Japan Society as its "iconic" director of performing arts, bringing little-known Asian artists to the U.S.
Gordon said little about her secret assignment on the Japanese constitution until the mid-1980s, not wishing to inflame Japanese conservatives critical of the constitution. But then she began to speak out. Her memoir, The Only Woman in the Room, published in Japanese in 1995 and in English two years later, "made her a celebrity" in Japan, the Times said. She lectured widely in Japan and was the subject of a stage play and later a documentary film, The Gift from Beate. In 1998, the Japanese government gave her a high honor, the Order of the Sacred Treasure.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the 1964 Civil Rights Act and judicial actions brought equal rights protections under the law to American women. But efforts to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, beginning in 1923, have failed to win passage. The closest attempt was passage of a 1972 bipartisan congressional bill, signed by President Richard Nixon, which was unable to acquire the needed approval from three-fourths of the states. In recent years, women's-rights organizations have supported a renewed effort to win ERA passage.
The practical impact of Gordon's youthful contribution to the Japanese constitution is hard to measure. As the Times noted, it survived later attacks by Japanese conservatives and won admiration from Japanese women when she traveled there. But Japan remains a male-dominated society.
Writing about Gordon's death, Bloomberg columnist William Pesek urged Japanese women to take up her charge:
It's time for Japanese to take up the flame of a woman some consider their answer to Gloria Steinem. Nearly 67 years after Japan's constitution was written, sexism remains rampant. In 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 101st out of 135 countries in gender equality, after Indonesia and Azerbaijan. Such inequality holds back Japan's economy by reducing the quality of its labor force. Women must demand their due.
"Few young Japanese women knew much about Beate Sirota Gordon when she died in New York on Dec. 30 at age 89," said Pesek. "That's a shame, considering how much they owe her for the freedoms they enjoy."
Gordon's death has unearthed her legacy promoting gender equality for all women. Let's hope it stays in the light.
Emperor Hirohito and General MacArthur, at their first meeting, at the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, 27 September, 1945. U.S. Army.
The Japanese Occupation (1945-1951)
On the morning of September 8, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur made his way by automobile toward the American Embassy in the heart of Tokyo. One American observer described it as a city "completely flat with destruction," where even "the rubble did not look like much." As he presided over a ceremony at the Embassy -- his home for the next five and a half years -- MacArthur ordered General Eichelberger to "have our country's flag unfurled, and in Tokyo's sun let it wave in its full glory as a symbol of hope for the oppressed and as a harbinger of victory for the right." This moment was not broadcast throughout the world as the surrender ceremony aboard the U.S.S. Missouri had been six days earlier. Yet in hindsight, it was just as symbolic of the occupation period to follow: optimistic, thoroughly American, and unmistakably MacArthur.
Although the occupation was nominally an allied enterprise -- MacArthur's title was Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, or SCAP -- it was very much an American show, and there was no doubt who was in charge. As historian Michael Schaller has noted, "From its inception, the occupation became synonymous with its supreme commander. Although few Americans could name the man in charge of the German occupation (General Lucius Clay and, later, John J. McCloy) most could readily identify the top man in Tokyo." In fact, most of the basic principles and policies for the occupation were drawn up by planners in Washington in the last two years of the war (and are contained in a document known as SWNCC 228). While the impression that MacArthur was behind everything that happened in Japan far exceeds the reality, he deserves a great deal of credit for what most people agree was a highly successful occupation. Initiating some policies and skillfully implementing many others, MacArthur helped a defeated and destroyed nation transform itself with remarkable speed.
Students of the occupation period are stunned by how readily the Japanese remade their country along an American model. Although this is often ascribed to the particular Japanese talent for adapting foreign concepts for their own use, many of the changes wrought during the occupation had roots in pre-war Japanese reform movements. Still, MacArthur's prestige was such that his support could make or break almost any single cause. Among those encouraged by MacArthur and his staff were democratic elections ("This is democracy!" he exclaimed after the elections of 1947) basic civil liberties, including steps toward equality for women the unionization of labor, despite his banning of a General Strike in January, 1947 land reform, which sought to "eliminate the feudal system of land tenure and remove obstacles to the redistribution of land" and the Japanese Constitution itself, particularly Article 9 outlawing war and guarding against remilitarization. Even with all of these accomplishments, MacArthur's greatest disappointment may have been his failure to convert the Japanese masses to Christianity, despite his conviction that "true democracy can exist only on a spiritual foundation," and will "endure when it rests firmly on the Christian conception of the individual and society."
Appropriately, MacArthur established his General Headquarters, or GHQ, in the Dai Ichi Insurance Building in central Tokyo, the higher floors of which overlooked the Imperial Palace. MacArthur's steadfast resolution to protect Emperor Hirohito -- "through him it will be possible to maintain a completely orderly government" -- probably ranks as the single most important decision of the occupation. Considering how well things went, MacArthur's decision seems vindicated yet many historians argue that once the occupation had begun to run smoothly, MacArthur should have allowed the Emperor to abdicate the throne, thereby acknowledging his and the country's responsibility for the war. As historian John Dower says, "From the Japanese perspective, you have a man who becomes America's symbol of democracy, who is totally sanitized by the Americans and by MacArthur, in particular. I think that that poisoned the thinking about responsibility in general, in Japan, to the present day."
Nonetheless, it is remarkable that a man best known as one of the greatest soldiers in American history may have made his greatest contribution during a time of peace. Significantly, MacArthur biographer D. Clayton James once wrote that he decided to undertake his three volume study "with the conviction that a century hence MacArthur will be most appreciated for his role as an administrator, rather than as a warrior."
Creation of the Japanese Constitution:
From the very beginning, it was clear that a primary objective of the occupation of Japan would be, as the Potsdam Declaration put it, "a peacefully inclined and responsible government" based on "the freely expressed will of the Japanese people." MacArthur himself commented early on that meeting this goal would certainly require a "revision of the Meiji Constitution." But even he could not have imagined that a few months later, his young American staff would write an entirely new constitution, one that has governed Japanese affairs ever since without the change of a comma.
The whole undertaking was a bit bizarre from the start. On October 4, 1945, toward the end of a meeting with MacArthur, a high-ranking Japanese cabinet member asked whether the supreme commander had any instructions "about the make-up of the government." The translator mistakenly used the word "constitution" for "make-up," and the official left thinking that MacArthur had commissioned him to draft a new constitution. The Japanese did go to work, but MacArthur rejected their efforts in early February 1946 as "nothing more than a rewording of the old Meiji constitution." Eager to avoid interference from other allies, MacArthur took matters into his own hands. He ordered his government section to draft a document themselves, and to do it before the first meeting of the Far Eastern Commission, set for February 26. Staff member Beate Sirota Gordon, then in her early twenties, still remembers the day well:
And one morning I came in. it was ten a.m. and General Whitney [head of the government section] called us into a meeting room. It was too small for all of us. Some of us had to stand because there were about 25 of us. And he said, "You are now a constituent assembly." You can imagine how we felt. "And you will write the Japanese constitution. You will write a draft and it will have to be done in a week." Well, I mean, we were stunned of course. But, on the other hand, when you're in the army and you get an order, you just do it. You just go ahead.
Mrs. Gordon then recounts how she raced around the still-decimated Tokyo in a jeep, collecting all of the foreign constitutions she could find to provide models for the new "constituent assembly."
Their work resulted in a thoroughly progressive document. Although the emperor was acknowledged as the head of state, he was stripped of any real power and essentially became a constitutional monarch. A bi-cameral legislature with a weak upper chamber was established, and with the exception of the Imperial family, all rights of peerage were abolished. Thirty-nine articles dealt with what MacArthur called "basic human liberties," including not only most of the American bill of rights, but such things as universal adult sufferage, labor's right to organize, and a host of marriage and property rights for women. But the most unique and one of the most important provisions came in Article 9, which outlawed the creation of armed forces and the right to make war. It's not clear whether or not the "No-war clause" originated with MacArthur, but it certainly would not have been included without him, and its presence in the constitution has had an enormous impact on Japan's postwar history.
After marathon negotiations in early March, Japanese officials accepted the American draft with only minor revisions. General Whitney's comment at the outset -- "if the cabinet [is] unable to prepare a suitable and acceptable draft. General MacArthur [is] prepared to lay this statement of principle directly before the people" -- probably helped. Emperor Hirohito, chagrined at having lost so much power but grateful that the throne had been retained, issued an "imperial rescript" endorsing the draft. That fall, after the Japanese people had voted overwhelmingly for candidates who backed the new consitution, Hirohito himself promulgated it before the Diet (Japanese Parliament). Although it ignored his own role in its birth, General MacArthur's message to the nation offered a pretty fair assessment: "The adoption of this liberal charter, together with other progressive measures enacted by the Diet, lays a very solid foundation for the new Japan."
Japan Received First Written Constitution - History
Promulgated on November 3, 1946
Came into effect on May 3, 1947
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.
Article 1. The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the People, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.
Article 2. The Imperial Throne shall be dynastic and succeeded to in accordance with the Imperial House Law passed by the Diet.
Article 3. The advice and approval of the Cabinet shall be required for all acts of the Emperor in matters of state, and the Cabinet shall be responsible therefor.
Article 4. The Emperor shall perform only such acts in matters of state as are provided for in this Constitution and he shall not have powers related to government.
The Emperor may delegate the performance of his acts in matters of state as may be provided by law.
Article 5. When, in accordance with the Imperial House Law, a Regency is established, the Regent shall perform his acts in matters of state in the Emperor's name. In this case, paragraph one of the preceding article will be applicable.
Article 6. The Emperor shall appoint the Prime Minister as designated by the Diet.
The Emperor shall appoint the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court as designated by the Cabinet.
Article 7. The Emperor, with the advice and approval of the Cabinet, shall perform the following acts in matters of state on behalf of the people:
Article 8. No property can be given to, or received by, the Imperial House, nor can any gifts be made therefrom, without the authorization of the Diet.
Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE
Article 10. The conditions necessary for being a Japanese national shall be determined by law.
Article 11. The people shall not be prevented from enjoying any of the fundamental human rights. These fundamental human rights guaranteed to the people by this Constitution shall be conferred upon the people of this and future generations as eternal and inviolate rights.
Article 12. The freedoms and rights guaranteed to the people by this Constitution shall be maintained by the constant endeavor of the people, who shall refrain from any abuse of these freedoms and rights and shall always be responsible for utilizing them for the public welfare.
Article 13. All of the people shall be respected as individuals. Their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness shall, to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare, be the supreme consideration in legislation and in other governmental affairs.
Article 14. All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.
Peers and peerage shall not be recognized.
No privilege shall accompany any award of honor, decoration or any distinction, nor shall any such award be valid beyond the lifetime of the individual who now holds or hereafter may receive it.
Article 15. The people have the inalienable right to choose their public officials and to dismiss them.
All public officials are servants of the whole community and not of any group thereof.
Universal adult suffrage is guaranteed with regard to the election of public officials.
In all elections, secrecy of the ballot shall not be violated. A voter shall not be answerable, publicly or privately, for the choice he has made.
Article 16. Every person shall have the right of peaceful petition for the redress of damage, for the removal of public officials, for the enactment, repeal or amendment of laws, ordinances or regulations and for other matters nor shall any person be in any way discriminated against for sponsoring such a petition.
Article 17. Every person may sue for redress as provided by law from the State or a public entity, in case he has suffered damage through illegal act of any public official.
Article 18. No person shall be held in bondage of any kind. Involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime, is prohibited.
Article 19. Freedom of thought and conscience shall not be violated.
Article 20. Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority.
No person shall be compelled to take part in any religious act, celebration, rite or practice.
The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity.
Article 21. Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed.
No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.
Article 22. Every person shall have freedom to choose and change his residence and to choose his occupation to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare.
Freedom of all persons to move to a foreign country and to divest themselves of their nationality shall be inviolate.
Article 23. Academic freedom is guaranteed.
Article 24. Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.
With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes.
Article 25. All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.
In all spheres of life, the State shall use its endeavors for the promotion and extension of social welfare and security, and of public health.
Article 26. All people shall have the right to receive an equal education correspondent to their ability, as provided by law.
All people shall be obligated to have all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law. Such compulsory education shall be free.
Article 27. All people shall have the right and the obligation to work.
Standards for wages, hours, rest and other working conditions shall be fixed by law.
Children shall not be exploited.
Article 28. The right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively is guaranteed.
Article 29. The right to own or to hold property is inviolable.
Property rights shall be defined by law, in conformity with the public welfare.
Private property may be taken for public use upon just compensation therefor.
Article 30. The people shall be liable to taxation as provided by law.
Article 31. No person shall be deprived of life or liberty, nor shall any other criminal penalty be imposed, except according to procedure established by law.
Article 32. No person shall be denied the right of access to the courts.
Article 33. No person shall be apprehended except upon warrant issued by a competent judicial officer which specifies the offense with which the person is charged, unless he is apprehended, the offense being committed.
Article 34. No person shall be arrested or detained without being at once informed of the charges against him or without the immediate privilege of counsel nor shall he be detained without adequate cause and upon demand of any person such cause must be immediately shown in open court in his presence and the presence of his counsel.
Article 35. The right of all persons to be secure in their homes, papers and effects against entries, searches and seizures shall not be impaired except upon warrant issued for adequate cause and particularly describing the place to be searched and things to be seized, or except as provided by Article 33.
Each search or seizure shall be made upon separate warrant issued by a competent judicial officer.
Article 36. The infliction of torture by any public officer and cruel punishments are absolutely forbidden.
Article 37. In all criminal cases the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial tribunal.
He shall be permitted full opportunity to examine all witnesses, and he shall have the right of compulsory process for obtaining witnesses on his behalf at public expense.
At all times the accused shall have the assistance of competent counsel who shall, if the accused is unable to secure the same by his own efforts, be assigned to his use by the State.
Article 38. No person shall be compelled to testify against himself.
Confession made under compulsion, torture or threat, or after prolonged arrest or detention shall not be admitted in evidence.
No person shall be convicted or punished in cases where the only proof against him is his own confession.
Article 39. No person shall be held criminally liable for an act which was lawful at the time it was committed, or of which he has been acquitted, nor shall he be placed in double jeopardy.
Article 40. Any person, in case he is acquitted after he has been arrested or detained, may sue the State for redress as provided by law.
Article 41. The Diet shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be the sole law-making organ of the State.
Article 42. The Diet shall consist of two Houses, namely the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.
Article 43. Both Houses shall consist of elected members, representative of all the people.
The number of the members of each House shall be fixed by law.
Article 44. The qualifications of members of both Houses and their electors shall be fixed by law. However, there shall be no discrimination because of race, creed, sex, social status, family origin, education, property or income.
Article 45. The term of office of members of the House of Representatives shall be four years. However, the term shall be terminated before the full term is up in case the House of Representatives is dissolved.
Article 46. The term of office of members of the House of Councillors shall be six years, and election for half the members shall take place every three years.
Article 47. Electoral districts, method of voting and other matters pertaining to the method of election of members of both Houses shall be fixed by law.
Article 48. No person shall be permitted to be a member of both Houses simultaneously.
Article 49. Members of both Houses shall receive appropriate annual payment from the national treasury in accordance with law.
Article 50. Except in cases provided by law, members of both Houses shall be exempt from apprehension while the Diet is in session, and any members apprehended before the opening of the session shall be freed during the term of the session upon demand of the House.
Article 51. Members of both Houses shall not be held liable outside the House for speeches, debates or votes cast inside the House.
Article 52. An ordinary session of the Diet shall be convoked once per year.
Article 53. The Cabinet may determine to convoke extraordinary sessions of the Diet. When a quarter or more of the total members of either House makes the demand, the Cabinet must determine on such convocation.
Article 54. When the House of Representatives is dissolved, there must be a general election of members of the House of Representatives within forty (40) days from the date of dissolution, and the Diet must be convoked within thirty (30) days from the date of the election.
When the House of Representatives is dissolved, the House of Councillors is closed at the same time. However, the Cabinet may in time of national emergency convoke the House of Councillors in emergency session.
Measures taken at such session as mentioned in the proviso of the preceding paragraph shall be provisional and shall become null and void unless agreed to by the House of Representatives within a period of ten (10) days after the opening of the next session of the Diet.
Article 55. Each House shall judge disputes related to qualifications of its members. However, in order to deny a seat to any member, it is necessary to pass a resolution by a majority of two-thirds or more of the members present.
Article 56. Business cannot be transacted in either House unless one-third or more of total membership is present.
All matters shall be decided, in each House, by a majority of those present, except as elsewhere provided in the Constitution, and in case of a tie, the presiding officer shall decide the issue.
Article 57. Deliberation in each House shall be public. However, a secret meeting may be held where a majority of two-thirds or more of those members present passes a resolution therefor.
Each House shall keep a record of proceedings. This record shall be published and given general circulation, excepting such parts of proceedings of secret session as may be deemed to require secrecy.
Upon demand of one-fifth or more of the members present, votes of the members on any matter shall be recorded in the minutes.
Article 58. Each House shall select its own president and other officials.
Each House shall establish its rules pertaining to meetings, proceedings and internal discipline, and may punish members for disorderly conduct. However, in order to expel a member, a majority of two-thirds or more of those members present must pass a resolution thereon.
Article 59. A bill becomes a law on passage by both Houses, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution.
A bill which is passed by the House of Representatives, and upon which the House of Councillors makes a decision different from that of the House of Representatives, becomes a law when passed a second time by the House of Representatives by a majority of two-thirds or more of the members present.
The provision of the preceding paragraph does not preclude the House of Representatives from calling for the meeting of a joint committee of both Houses, provided for by law.
Failure by the House of Councillors to take final action within sixty (60) days after receipt of a bill passed by the House of Representatives, time in recess excepted, may be determined by the House of Representatives to constitute a rejection of the said bill by the House of Councillors.
Article 60. The budget must first be submitted to the House of Representatives.
Upon consideration of the budget, when the House of Councillors makes a decision different from that of the House of Representatives, and when no agreement can be reached even through a joint committee of both Houses, provided for by law, or in the case of failure by the House of Councillors to take final action within thirty (30) days, the period of recess excluded, after the receipt of the budget passed by the House of Representatives, the decision of the House of Representatives shall be the decision of the Diet.
Article 61. The second paragraph of the preceding article applies also to the Diet approval required for the conclusion of treaties.
Article 62. Each House may conduct investigations in relation to government, and may demand the presence and testimony of witnesses, and the production of records.
Article 63. The Prime Minister and other Ministers of State may, at any time, appear in either House for the purpose of speaking on bills, regardless of whether they are members of the House or not. They must appear when their presence is required in order to give answers or explanations.
Article 64. The Diet shall set up an impeachment court from among the members of both Houses for the purpose of trying those judges against whom removal proceedings have been instituted.
Matters relating to impeachment shall be provided by law.
Article 65. Executive power shall be vested in the Cabinet.
Article 66. The Cabinet shall consist of the Prime Minister, who shall be its head, and other Ministers of State, as provided for by law.
The Prime Minister and other Ministers of State must be civilians.
The Cabinet, in the exercise of executive power, shall be collectively responsible to the Diet.
Article 67. The Prime Minister shall be designated from among the members of the Diet by a resolution of the Diet. This designation shall precede all other business.
If the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors disagree and if no agreement can be reached even through a joint committee of both Houses, provided for by law, or the House of Councillors fails to make designation within ten (10) days, exclusive of the period of recess, after the House of Representatives has made designation, the decision of the House of Representatives shall be the decision of the Diet.
Article 68. The Prime Minister shall appoint the Ministers of State. However, a majority of their number must be chosen from among the members of the Diet.
The Prime Minister may remove the Ministers of State as he chooses.
Article 69. If the House of Representatives passes a non-confidence resolution, or rejects a confidence resolution, the Cabinet shall resign en masse, unless the House of Representatives is dissolved within ten (10) days.
Article 70. When there is a vacancy in the post of Prime Minister, or upon the first convocation of the Diet after a general election of members of the House of Representatives, the Cabinet shall resign en masse.
Article 71. In the cases mentioned in the two preceding articles, the Cabinet shall continue its functions until the time when a new Prime Minister is appointed.
Article 72. The Prime Minister, representing the Cabinet, submits bills, reports on general national affairs and foreign relations to the Diet and exercises control and supervision over various administrative branches.
Article 73. The Cabinet, in addition to other general administrative functions, shall perform the following functions:
Administer the law faithfully conduct affairs of state.
Manage foreign affairs.
Conclude treaties. However, it shall obtain prior or, depending on circumstances, subsequent approval of the Diet.
Administer the civil service, in accordance with standards established by law.
Prepare the budget, and present it to the Diet.
Enact cabinet orders in order to execute the provisions of this Constitution and of the law. However, it cannot include penal provisions in such cabinet orders unless authorized by such law.
Decide on general amnesty, special amnesty, commutation of punishment, reprieve, and restoration of rights.
Article 74. All laws and cabinet orders shall be signed by the competent Minister of State and countersigned by the Prime Minister.
Article 75. The Ministers of State, during their tenure of office, shall not be subject to legal action without the consent of the Prime Minister. However, the right to take that action is not impaired hereby.
Article 76. The whole judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as are established by law.
No extraordinary tribunal shall be established, nor shall any organ or agency of the Executive be given final judicial power.
All judges shall be independent in the exercise of their conscience and shall be bound only by this Constitution and the laws.
Article 77. The Supreme Court is vested with the rule-making power under which it determines the rules of procedure and of practice, and of matters relating to attorneys, the internal discipline of the courts and the administration of judicial affairs.
Public procurators shall be subject to the rule-making power of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court may delegate the power to make rules for inferior courts to such courts.
Article 78. Judges shall not be removed except by public impeachment unless judicially declared mentally or physically incompetent to perform official duties. No disciplinary action against judges shall be administered by any executive organ or agency.
Article 79. The Supreme Court shall consist of a Chief Judge and such number of judges as may be determined by law all such judges excepting the Chief Judge shall be appointed by the Cabinet.
The appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court shall be reviewed by the people at the first general election of members of the House of Representatives following their appointment, and shall be reviewed again at the first general election of members of the House of Representatives after a lapse of ten (10) years, and in the same manner thereafter.
In cases mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, when the majority of the voters favors the dismissal of a judge, he shall be dismissed.
Matters pertaining to review shall be prescribed by law.
The judges of the Supreme Court shall be retired upon the attainment of the age as fixed by law.
All such judges shall receive, at regular stated intervals, adequate compensation which shall not be decreased during their terms of office.
Article 80. The judges of the inferior courts shall be appointed by the Cabinet from a list of persons nominated by the Supreme Court. All such judges shall hold office for a term of ten (10) years with privilege of reappointment, provided that they shall be retired upon the attainment of the age as fixed by law.
The judges of the inferior courts shall receive, at regular stated intervals, adequate compensation which shall not be decreased during their terms of office.
Article 81. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort with power to determine the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation or official act.
Article 82. Trials shall be conducted and judgment declared publicly.
Where a court unanimously determines publicity to be dangerous to public order or morals, a trial may be conducted privately, but trials of political offenses, offenses involving the press or cases wherein the rights of people as guaranteed in Chapter III of this Constitution are in question shall always be conducted publicly.
Article 83. The power to administer national finances shall be exercised as the Diet shall determine.
Article 84. No new taxes shall be imposed or existing ones modified except by law or under such conditions as law may prescribe.
Article 85. No money shall be expended, nor shall the State obligate itself, except as authorized by the Diet.
Article 86. The Cabinet shall prepare and submit to the Diet for its consideration and decision a budget for each fiscal year.
Article 87. In order to provide for unforeseen deficiencies in the budget, a reserve fund may be authorized by the Diet to be expended upon the responsibility of the Cabinet.
The Cabinet must get subsequent approval of the Diet for all payments from the reserve fund.
Article 88. All property of the Imperial Household shall belong to the State. All expenses of the Imperial Household shall be appropriated by the Diet in the budget.
Article 89. No public money or other property shall be expended or appropriated for the use, benefit or maintenance of any religious institution or association, or for any charitable, educational or benevolent enterprises not under the control of public authority.
Article 90. Final accounts of the expenditures and revenues of the State shall be audited annually by a Board of Audit and submitted by the Cabinet to the Diet, together with the statement of audit, during the fiscal year immediately following the period covered.
The organization and competency of the Board of Audit shall be determined by law.
Article 91. At regular intervals and at least annually the Cabinet shall report to the Diet and the people on the state of national finances.
Article 92. Regulations concerning organization and operations of local public entities shall be fixed by law in accordance with the principle of local autonomy.
Article 93. The local public entities shall establish assemblies as their deliberative organs, in accordance with law.
The chief executive officers of all local public entities, the members of their assemblies, and such other local officials as may be determined by law shall be elected by direct popular vote within their several communities.
Article 94. Local public entities shall have the right to manage their property, affairs and administration and to enact their own regulations within law.
Article 95. A special law, applicable only to one local public entity, cannot be enacted by the Diet without the consent of the majority of the voters of the local public entity concerned, obtained in accordance with law.
Article 96. Amendments to this Constitution shall be initiated by the Diet, through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each House and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for ratification, which shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all votes cast thereon, at a special referendum or at such election as the Diet shall specify.
Amendments when so ratified shall immediately be promulgated by the Emperor in the name of the people, as an integral part of this Constitution.
Article 97. The fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits of the age-old struggle of man to be free they have survived the many exacting tests for durability and are conferred upon this and future generations in trust, to be held for all time inviolate.
Article 98. This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the nation and no law, ordinance, imperial rescript or other act of government, or part thereof, contrary to the provisions hereof, shall have legal force or validity.
The treaties concluded by Japan and established laws of nations shall be faithfully observed.
Article 99. The Emperor or the Regent as well as Ministers of State, members of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation to respect and uphold this Constitution.
Article 100. This Constitution shall be enforced as from the day when the period of six months will have elapsed counting from the day of its promulgation.
The enactment of laws necessary for the enforcement of this Constitution, the election of members of the House of Councillors and the procedure for the convocation of the Diet and other preparatory procedures necessary for the enforcement of this Constitution may be executed before the day prescribed in the preceding paragraph.
Article 101. If the House of Councillors is not constituted before the effective date of this Constitution, the House of Representatives shall function as the Diet until such time as the House of Councillors shall be constituted.
Article 102. The term of office for half the members of the House of Councillors serving in the first term under this Constitution shall be three years. Members falling under this category shall be determined in accordance with law.
Article 103. The Ministers of State, members of the House of Representatives and judges in office on the effective date of this Constitution, and all other public officials who occupy positions corresponding to such positions as are recognized by this Constitution shall not forfeit their positions automatically on account of the enforcement of this Constitution unless otherwise specified by law. When, however, successors are elected or appointed under the provisions of this Constitution, they shall forfeit their positions as a matter of course.
Japan Received First Written Constitution - History
The World at War: 1931-1945
While the United States was still struggling to emerge from the Great Depression at the end of the 1930s, and would do so partly because of the war, Japan had emerged from its own period of depression, which had begun in 1926, by the mid-1930s. Many of the young soldiers mobilized into the Japanese army by the early 1930s came from the rural areas, where the effects of the depression were devastating and poverty was widespread. Their commitment to the military effort to expand Japanese territory to achieve economic security can be understood partly in these terms. The depression ended in the mid-1930s in Japan partly because of government deficits used to expand greatly both heavy industry and the military.
Internationally, this was a time when "free trade" was in disrepute. The great powers not only jealously protected their special economic rights within their colonies and spheres of influence, but sought to bolster their sagging economies through high tariffs, dumping of goods, and other trade manipulation. The Japanese, with few natural resources, sought to copy this pattern. They used cutthroat trade practices to sell textiles and other light industrial goods in the East Asian and U.S. markets, severely undercutting British and European manufacturers. They also developed sources of raw materials and heavy industry in the colonies they established in Korea, Taiwan and Manchuria. Japan used high tariffs to limit imports of American and European industrial products.
The Japanese military faced a particular tactical problem in that certain critical raw materials — especially oil and rubber — were not available within the Japanese sphere of influence. Instead, Japan received most of its oil from the United States and rubber from British Malaya, the very two Western nations trying to restrict Japan's expansion. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's embargo of oil exports to Japan pressured the Japanese navy, which had stocks for only about six months of operations.
The Japanese army, for its part, was originally concerned with fighting the Soviet Union, because of the army's preoccupation with Manchuria and China. The Japanese army governed Manchuria indirectly through the "puppet" state of Manchukuo and developed heavy industry there under its favorite agencies, disliking and distrusting the zaibatsu (large Japanese corporations). But the Soviet army's resistance to Japanese attacks was sufficient to discourage northern expansion.
Meanwhile in 1937, the intensification of Chinese resistance to the pressure of the Japanese military drew Japan into a draining war in the vast reaches of China proper, and in 1940 into operations in French Indochina, far to the south. Thus, when the navy pressed for a "southern" strategy of attacking Dutch Indonesia to get its oil and British Malaya to control its rubber, the army agreed.
While it seems that economic factors were important in Japanese expansion in East Asia, it would be too much to say that colonialism, trade protection, and the American embargo compelled Japan to take this course. Domestic politics, ideology and racism also played a role.
The political structure of Japan at this time was inherited from the Meiji era and was increasingly dominated by the military. During the Meiji period, the government was controlled by a small ruling group of elder statesmen who had overthrown the shogun and established the new centralized Japanese state. These men used their position to coordinate the bureaucracy, the military, the parliament, the Imperial Household, and other branches of government. Following their deaths in the early 1920s, no single governmental institution was able to establish full control, until the 1931 Manchurian Incident, when Japan took control of Manchuria. This began a process in which the military behaved autonomously on the Asian mainland and with increasing authority in politics at home.
From 1937 on, Japan was at war with China. By the time General Hideki Tôjô became prime minister and the war against the United States began in 1941, the nation was in a state of "total war" and the military and their supporters were able to force their policies on the government and the people. The wartime regime used existing government controls on public opinion, including schools and textbooks, the media, and the police, but Japan continued to have more of an authoritarian government than a totalitarian one like Hitler's Germany. In particular, the government was never able to gain real control of the economy and the great zaibatsu, which were more interested in the economic opportunities provided by the military's policies than in submitting loyally to a patriotic mission.
The emperor has been criticized for not taking a more forceful action to restrain his government, especially in light of his own known preference for peace, but Japanese emperors after the Meiji Restoration had "reigned but not ruled." One wonders if a more forceful emperor in fact could have controlled the army and navy at this late date. The doubts are strengthened in light of the difficulty the emperor had in forcing the military to accept surrender after the atomic bombings. The emperor's decision at that point to bring agreement among his advisers was an extraordinary event in Japanese history.
The emperor-based ideology of Japan during World War II was a relatively new creation, dating from the efforts of Meiji oligarchs to unite the nation in response to the Western challenge. Before the Meiji Restoration, the emperor wielded no political power and was viewed simply as a symbol of the Japanese culture. He was the head of the Shintô religion, Japan's native religion, which holds, among other beliefs, that the emperor is descended from gods who created Japan and is therefore semidivine. Westerners of that time knew him only as a shadowy figure somewhat like a pope.
The Meiji oligarchs brought the emperor and Shintô to national prominence, replacing Buddhism as the national religion, for political and ideological reasons — since Buddhism had originated in India and come to Japan via China. The people were not allowed to look at the emperor, or even to speak his name patriotism had been raised to the unassailable level of sacredness.
It is sometimes difficult to comprehend the extreme sacrifices the Japanese made in the name of the emperor. This can perhaps best be viewed, however, as extreme patriotism — Japanese were taught to give their lives, if necessary, for their emperor. But this was not entirely different from the Americans who gave their lives in the same war for their country and the "American" way. The kamikaze pilots, who were named for the "divine wind" (kami kaze) that destroyed the Mongol fleet in the thirteenth century and saved Japan from invasion, might be compared to the young Iranian soldiers fighting in suicide squadrons in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, or even to fanatical Shiites responsible for the truck bombing of the U.S. Lebanese embassy in 1983.
The Japanese were proud of their many accomplishments and resented racial slurs they met with in some Western nations. Their attempt to establish a statement of racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations was vetoed by the United States (because of opposition in California) and Great Britain (Australian resistance). The Japanese greatly resented this.
The Japanese military was convinced of the willingness of its people to go to any sacrifice for their nation, and it was contemptuous of the "softness" of the U.S. and European democracies, where loyalty and patriotism were tempered by the rights and well-being of the individual. The military's overconfidence in its own abilities and underestimation of the will of these other nations were thus rooted in its own misleading ethnic and racial stereotypes. While Asians, the Japanese saw themselves as less representatives of Asia than Asia's champion. They sought to liberate Asian colonies from the Westerners, whom they disdained. But although the Japanese were initially welcomed in some Asian colonies by the indigenous populations whom they "liberated" from European domination, the arrogance and racial prejudice displayed by the Japanese military governments in these nations created great resentment. This resentment is still evident in some Southeast Asian nations.
The World at War: Discussion Questions
- What was the economic situation in Japan around 1930? Why was this?
- Who dominated the government in Japan at this time? What was their ambition?
- Describe the international economic situation that fueled military conflict among nations. How did Japan fit into this situation?
- Who was General Hideki Tojo?
- Explain what an "ideology" is? What ideology was propagated by the Japanese leaders to unite the country behind the war? Explain what role belief in the emperor's special status played in the ideology. What role did racism play — the belief in the special qualities of Japanese and other Asian peoples?
- Give an example of a situation where the Japanese felt insulted by what they perceived as the racism of Western countries.
Japan and the United States at War: Pearl Harbor, December 1941
Today Japan and the United States are close allies. But between 1941 and 1945, they fought a bitter and bloody war, which many people remember well today. Why did they fight this war?
The answer on the American side is simple: the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Americans were angry at the Japanese for their invasions of first Manchuria (1931), then China (1937), and later French Indochina (1940). After the Japanese moved into Indochina, President Roosevelt ordered a trade embargo on American scrap steel and oil, on which the Japanese military depended. But the American people felt that Asia was far away, and a large majority of voters did not want to go to war to stop Japan. The surprise attack on the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 changed this, outraging the whole U.S. nation and convincing it that it must stop the Japanese army and navy.
Why did Japan attack the United States? This is a more complicated question. Japan knew the United States was economically and military powerful, but it was not afraid of any American attack on its islands. Japan did worry however, that the Americans might help the Chinese resist the Japanese invasion of their country. When President Roosevelt stopped U.S. shipments of steel and oil the Japan, he was doing exactly this: the Japanese are dependent on other countries for raw materials, for they have almost none on their own islands. Without imports of steel and oil, the Japanese military could not fight for long. Without oil, the navy would not be able to move after it had exhausted its six-month reserve. Roosevelt hoped that this economic pressure would force Japan to end its military expansion in East Asia.
The Japanese military saw another solution to the problem: if it could quickly conquer the British and Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia and gain complete control of the oil, rubber, and other raw materials it needed, then it could defend its interests in China and Indochina against those Europeans who were now busy fighting a major war in Europe against the Germans and Italians. The only force that could stop the Japanese was the American Pacific fleet — which was conveniently gathered close to Japan at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. Knowing that many Americans did not want to fight a war against Japan, the military thought that if it suddenly destroyed the U.S. fleet, America would simply give up and allow Japan to consolidate its grasp on East Asia.
Japan was not militarily or economically powerful enough to fight a long war against the United States, and the Japanese military knew this. Its attack on Pearl Harbor was a tremendous gamble — and though the short-run gamble was successful, the long-run gamble was lost because the Japanese were wrong about the American reaction.
But behind this mistake was another, earlier miscalculation. Ever since Commodore Perry's fleet opened Japan in 1853, in an era of great colonial expansion, the Japanese had watched the European powers dominate East Asia and establish colonies and trading privileges. China, Japan's neighbor, was carved up like a melon as Western powers established their spheres of influence on Chinese territory. After an amazingly short time, Japan was able to develop the economic and military strength to join this competition for dominance of the Asian mainland. Japan defeated China in 1895 and Russia in 1905, in battles over who should dominate Korea. Japan joined the allies against Germany in 1914-18 in a struggle to control a portion of China and then conquered Manchuria in 1931 in an effort to secure a land area rich in raw materials. The Japanese nation and its military, which controlled the government by the 1930s, felt that it then could, and should, control all of East Asia by military force.
Little Boy: The First Atomic Bomb
Two American atomic bombs ended World War II in August 1945, and the devastation will be forever remembered. In an instant when the first bomb was dropped, tens of thousands of residents of Hiroshima, Japan were killed by “Little Boy,” the code name for the first atomic bomb used in warfare in world history.
Scientists developed the technology for the atomic weapon during the highly classified project code-named “The Manhattan Project.” U.S. Army Col. Leslie R. Groves oversaw the military’s participation, while civilian scientist Robert Oppenheimer was in charge of the team designing the core details of Little Boy. Facilities for the research were set up in Manhattan, Washington State, Tennessee, and New Mexico. Scientists on the project drew from the earlier work done by physicists Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, both of whom received funding from the U.S. Government in the late 1930s to study enriched uranium in nuclear chain reactions. The enriched uranium-235 was the critical element in creating an explosive fission reaction in nuclear bombs.
The Manhattan Project team agreed on two distinct designs for the atomic bombs. In Little Boy, the first atomic weapon, the fission reaction occurred when two masses of uranium collided together using a gun-type device to form a critical mass that initiated the reaction. In effect, one slug of uranium hit another after firing through a smooth-bore gun barrel. The target was in the shape of a solid spike measuring seven inches long and four inches in diameter. The cylinder fit precisely over the spike as the two collided together creating the highly explosive fission reaction. While the theory of the gun firing concept was not fully tested until the actual bomb dropped on Hiroshima, scientists conducted successful lab tests on a smaller scale that gave them confidence the method would be successful.
The final construction of Little Boy occurred in stages. Various components of the bomb were transported by train from Los Alamos, New Mexico, to San Francisco, California. There, the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis shipped the collection of parts to Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean south of Japan, where it arrived on July 26. In order to prevent a catastrophic accident, the target piece of enriched uranium flew separately aboard three C-54 Skymaster transport planes to Tinian Island, where it also arrived on July 26. Upon final assembly, Little Boy weighed 9,700 pounds and measured 10 feet in length and 28 inches in diameter.
Once on Tinian, the officer in charge of Little Boy’s assembly, U.S. Navy Capt. William S. Parsons, decided to forestall the final segment of assembly until the very last moment. He did this in order to prevent a catastrophic accidental detonation caused by an electrical short or crash.
In the early morning hours of August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay took off from Tinian and proceeded north by northwest toward Japan. The bomber’s primary target was the city of Hiroshima, located on the deltas of southwestern Honshu Island facing the Inland Sea. Hiroshima had a civilian population of almost 300,000 and was a critical military center that included 43,000 soldiers.
The aircraft, piloted by the commander of the 509th Composite Group, Col. Paul Tibbets, flew at low altitude on automatic pilot before climbing to 31,000 feet as it closed in on the target area. At approximately 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima time, the Enola Gay released “Little Boy” over the city. Forty-three seconds later, a massive explosion lit the morning sky as the bomb detonated 1,900 feet above the city, directly over a parade field where soldiers of the Japanese Second Army were doing calisthenics.
Even though the Enola Gay had already flown 11 and a half miles away from the target after dropping its payload, it was rocked by the blast. After the initial shock wave hit the plane, the crew looked back at Hiroshima, and Tibbets recalled that “The city was hidden by that awful cloud . . . boiling up, mushrooming, terrible and incredibly tall.”  The force of the explosion was later estimated at 15 kilotons (the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT).
Many Americans viewed the bombing as a necessary means toward an end to the conflict with Japan. When Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer was briefed on the bombing, he expressed guarded satisfaction. He, more than any other, understood the power of the weapon he helped produce and the destruction that was unleashed on humanity.
We will never definitively know how many died as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima. Some 70,000 people are estimated to have perished as a result of the initial blast, heat, and radiation effects. This included about 20 American airmen who were held as prisoners in the city. By the end of 1945, because of the continuing effects of radioactive fallout and other after effects, including radiation poisoning, the Hiroshima death toll was likely over 100,000. The five-year death total may have even exceeded 200,000, as cancer and other long-term effects are considered.
Read the blog post Harry Truman and the Bomb and the notes of Captain Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, to learn more about the first atomic aomb.
TIME’s Jan. 25, 1960, cover story, which came out around the week that the U.S. and Japan signed the revised treaty (and which makes use of some national stereotypes from that era), focused on how Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi had played an important role in reconciling “Japan’s militarist, aggressive past and its democratic present.” (He was born to do it, TIME argued, reporting that the name Kishi, meaning “riverbank,” is used in a Japanese phrase that refers to “one who tries to keep a foot on both banks of the river.”) As the cover story detailed, not everyone was happy about the two nations’ growing closeness. But the forces behind the scenes &mdash especially the economic forces &mdash were stronger than any individual’s protests:
Prime Minister Kishi, 63, flew into Washington this week convinced that the logic of the world situation and the profit of Japan require his signature on the revision of the 1951 U.S.-Japanese Treaty. Not all his countrymen agree. In Tokyo 27,000 demonstrators battled police, and thousands of fanatical left-wing students made plain their feelings about the treaty by using the great doorway of the Japanese Diet for their own kind of public protest&mdasha mass urination…
Kishi’s diehard opponents protest that the treaty revision commits Japan to support all U.S. moves in the Pacific and may therefore “attract the lightning” of a Communist H-bomb attack. There are U.S. reservations about the treaty as well many Pentagon staff officers complain that it gives Japan what amounts to a veto over the movement of U.S. troops on the perimeter of the Asian mainland.
The treaty is to run for ten years, and its ten articles pledge that 1) both nations will take “action to counter the common danger” if the forces of either are attacked in Japan, though not elsewhere, 2) “prior consultation” will be held between the two before U.S. forces in Japan receive nuclear arms, 3) Japan is released from further contributions (now $30 million a year) for the support of U.S. troops in the islands. In Kishi’s words, the treaty will create an atmosphere of “mutual trust.” It inaugurates a “new era” of friendship with the U.S. and, most important, of independence for Japan.
Only 14 years ago such a treaty would have been unthinkable, and that it would be signed for Japan by Kishi, inconceivable. Then, Japan was a nation in ruins: a third of its factories had been leveled by U.S. bombers eight of every ten ships in its merchant fleet lay at the bottom of the ocean its exhausted population faced starvation…
Yet Japan, going into the 1960s, has risen phoenix-like from the ashes. The Japanese people are 25% better off than they were before the war, even though 20 million more of them are crowded into an area 52% smaller than their old territory. Japan’s industrial growth has soared to its highest rate ever, enough to double the national income every ten years. Its tiny farms (average size: 2½ acres) are so intensely cultivated that they have one of the world’s highest yields. Nearly every Japanese family owns a radio, one in every four, a TV set more newspapers are sold per capita than in the U.S. The people of Japan are incomparably the best fed, clothed and housed in all Asia…
Japan did not lift itself by its own sandal straps. Since the war U.S. aid has averaged $178 million a year a serious business recession was eased by the 1950 Korean war, which poured vast sums into the Japanese economy war reparations in kind to Southeast Asia have kept factories humming and the very high rate of capital investment is possible since Japan spends little on armaments. But major credit belongs to the Japanese themselves. In a typically Japanese swing from one extreme to another, they shook off the apathy of defeat, and with skill, hard work and enthusiasm began rebuilding at home and recapturing markets abroad.
In contrast, Kishi could see, the U.S. was supplying economic aid and buying more Japanese goods than any other single country &mdash particularly the fine-quality consumer items that are too expensive for the rest of Asia. The U.S., moreover, is the guarantor of Japan’s security in the shadow of the two Red giants of China and the Soviet Union. Moved by pragmatism, not pro-Americanism, Kishi realizes that his nation’s best and most vital interests are served by close cooperation with the U.S. both in trade and defense.
That said, U.S.-Japan relations would be tested again, during the protectionist movement of the s and s.
Case in point: the car industry. “After two oil crises in the s [and] Vietnam, which cost the U.S. a great deal, the [American] economy wasn&rsquot as strong as it once was. Smaller, cheaper, fuel-efficient Japanese cars were a better option,” says Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Japan’s New Politics and the U.S.-Japan Alliance. With this shift in consumer preferences, Japan grew wealthier. By the 1980s, it had become the second largest economy. But, as the Japanese grew wealthier, Americans blamed them for the loss of American jobs, especially in the auto and textile industries in extreme cases, they reacted by destroying Japanese cars and attacking Asian-Americans. Some Americans thought the Japanese were “cheating” somehow and questioned whether this richer Japan was “not pulling its weight in defense spending,” says Smith.
“During the trade friction in the s, there was a lot of mistrust between the U.S. and Japan, and a lot of people thought the reconciliation process would fall apart because we were becoming economic adversaries,” says Green. “The reason the reconciliation process didn’t break down was in part because, in 1985, the U.S. and the world pressured Japan to bring up the value of the yen. Exports were too cheap, not fair. [After the shift] it cost almost twice as much to buy Japanese goods that were exported, and it actually incentivized Japan to invest in factories in the U.S. and employ Americans”
The economic balance thus resettled. With the Cold War still top-of-mind for many people around the world &mdash and Japan positioning itself as a bulwark against the Soviets &mdash the reconciliation process proceeded once more.
In the years since, anniversaries have several times provided occasions to observe the extent of that reconciliation, and where gaps remain. For example, on the 50th anniversary, American veterans’ groups protested plans for a Smithsonian exhibition that explained the destruction of the atomic bombings and its effect on Japanese victims, arguing it made Americans look like aggressors. Others felt that the perspective of U.S. veterans groups was consistently heard more than the perspective of that of the survivors of the atomic bombings. “Aware of lingering bitterness over their nation’s role in World War II, Japanese are disappointed but not surprised that U.S. veterans’ groups have forced the downscaling of a controversial exhibition commemorating the end of the conflict,” TIME reported back then, quoting Hiroshima survivor Koshiro Kondo as saying, “We had hoped that the feelings of the people of Hiroshima might have gotten through to the American people.”
Meanwhile, a historic display of reconciliation came in 2016, when President Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to visit Hiroshima, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Pearl Harbor seven months later. &ldquoThe two leaders&rsquo visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies,&rdquo the White House said in a statement.
Today, there are signs that the story is not yet complete. Surveys show that some people’s confidence in maintaining the strong relationship under President Donald Trump’s administration is waning. A poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found 43% of Americans believe the U.S. should strengthen its alliance with Japan “as China becomes increasingly powerful in the region.” And yet, a 2017 Pew poll found that 41% of Japanese think U.S.-Japan relations will “get worse, not better” under Trump. Fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China and the war of words between the nations’ leaders exacerbate those feelings.
And the ethical debate over whether it was the right decision to use atomic bombs in 1945 &mdash or if it ever would be &mdash continues, too. Diplomatic relations may have been settled, says Smith, but “that moral question, I think, we&rsquoll never resolve.”