What were the major changes that occurred in Japan as a result of the United States occupation
 What was the importance of “Article Nine” in Japan’s post-WWII Constitution?
 Why was Japan considered an important United States ally after 1949?
 How did the 1946 new “Constitution of Japan” as well as the “Shinto Directive” change Japanese society?
The Allied occupation of Japan began with the formal Japanese surrender to the United States on September 2, 1945 at the end of World War II. It was led by Douglas MacArthur, a five-star general, (pictured to the right) who was the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Unlike the occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union was allowed no influence over Japan. This foreign presence marked the first time in Japan's history it had been occupied by a foreign power. The occupation, called code name“Operation Blacklist,” transformed the country of Japan both economically and culturally, as well as politically into a parliamentary democracy. The occupation ended with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951 and effective from April 28, 1952, after which Japan's independence was restored.
General Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito
MacArthur arrived in Tokyo on August 30, and immediately decreed several laws: No Allied personnel were to assault Japanese people. No Allied personnel were to eat the scarce Japanese food. Flying the Hinomaru or "Rising Sun" flag was initially severely restricted, with the restriction completely lifted in 1949.
The formal document containing details of the United States occupation was called the "US Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan," with the document setting two main objectives for the occupation: (1) eliminating Japan's war potential and (2) turning Japan into a western style nation with pro-American orientation. Allied (primarily American) forces were set up to supervise the country.
MacArthur's first priority was to set up a food distribution network, following the collapse of the ruling government and the wholesale destruction of Japan’s major cities. Virtually everyone was starving, and years into the occupation there were even stories of citizens starving to death. As expressed by Kawai Kazuo, "Democracy cannot be taught to a starving people,” and while the US government encouraged democratic reform in Japan, it also sent billions of dollars in aid.
The American occupiers proceeded to demilitarize and democratize Japan with considerable success, and great concentrations of industrial power, the "zaibatsu", were broken up, land was redistributed, and organized labor empowered to have more rights.
Japan's postwar constitution, adopted under Allied supervision, included a "Peace Clause", called “Article 9,” which required the Japanese government to renounce war and banned Japan from initially maintaining any armed forces. The clause was intended to prevent the country from ever becoming an aggressive military power again. However, the United States was soon pressuring Japan to rebuild its army as a strong nation to defend itself against Communism in Asia after the Chinese Civil War (1949) and the Korean War (1950-53). During the Korean War, the United States forces largely withdrew from Japan to deploy to Korea, leaving the country almost totally defenseless. As a result, Japan rebuilt its Army, and today it has the sixth largest military budget in the world.
In 1946, the Japanese government created a new “Constitution of Japan” that drew much of its inspiration from the United States Bill of Rights, New Deal social legislation, and the liberal constitutions of several European countries. It contained the following changes to Japanese society …
 Transferred sovereignty from the Emperor to the people in an attempt to depoliticize the Throne and reduce it to the status of a symbol of the country.
 The 1946 Constitution also gave women the right to vote, guaranteed fundamental human rights, and strengthened the powers of Parliament and the Cabinet to be able to pass laws, spend tax dollars, and run the country without the authority of the Emperor.
 On December 15, 1945, the Shinto Directive was issued abolishing Shinto as the official government religion of Japan and also prohibiting some of its teachings and rites that were deemed to be militaristic or ultra-nationalistic.
On April 10, 1946, an election with 78.52% voter turnout among men and 66.97% among women gave Japan its first modern prime minister, Shigeru Yoshida.
Hirohito’s surrender radio broadcast on August 15, 1945 was a profound shock to Japanese citizens. After years of being told about Japan’s military might and the inevitability of victory, these beliefs were proven false in the space of a few minutes. But for many people, these were only secondary concerns, as many were facing since starvation and homelessness.
It has been argued that the granting of rights to women played an important role in the radical shift Japan underwent from a war nation to a democratized and demilitarized country. In the first postwar general elections of 1946, over a third of the votes were cast by women. This unexpectedly high female voter turnout led to the election of 39 female candidates, and the increased presence of women in politics was viewed by Americans as evidence of an improved role of Japanese women in its society.