Sunday, March 04, 2001

American Caesar

Douglas MacArthuer (1880-1964)
by Willaim Manchester

IIV. At High Port (!944-1945)

{p. 438} He had no illusions about the savagery that lay ahead — he told Stimsom that Downfall would "cost over a million casualties to American forces alone" — but he was confident that twith the tanks from Europe he could outmaneuver the defenders on the great Kanto Plain before Tokyo. Whether he would be as adroit with Eisenhower's generals, not to mention Ike himslef, was another matter. Granting an interview to Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune, he said that the ETO {European Theater of Operations} commanders had made "every mistake that supposedly intelligent men could make," that "the North African operation was absolutely useless," that "the European strategy was to hammer stupidly against the enemy's strongest points," and that if he had been given "just a portion of the force" sent to North Africa in 1942, he "could have retaken the Phillippines in three months because at that time the Japanese were not ready."123

{p. 441} ...One of his first acts, he told Bonner Fellers, would be to give women the vote. "The japanese men won't like it," said Fellers, and indeed, as events would prove, many of them regarded it worse than sexual assauly. The General said, "I don't care. i want to discredit the military. Women don't like war."

VII. Last Post (1945-1950)

{p. 461} ...the Japanese Diet provided only the trappings of democracy. It was more authoritarian than the Riechstag. There was no middle class. Women were formally ranked as inferior beings. Real power was vested in the gumbatsu, the militarists, and, later, the zaibatsu, the eleven great industrial families — The Mitsubishis, Mituis, Su-
{p.462} mitomos, Yasudas, and the rest — who controlled 75 percent of the country's commerce, raw materials, and transportation. peasantrs were sharecroppers, shackled to the land by ground rents and surcharges, supporting 100,00 absentee landlords. The Jpanese religion, Shinto, which had been declared a "national structure" (kokutai in 1884 was not really a religion at all; it was what National Socialism would later be in Germany, an indigenous folk creed promoting the national character, the martial virtues, and the inferiority of other races. There were 110,000 Shinto shrines, all supporterd by the state. In addition, every home, down to the last thatched hut beside the most remotre rice paddy, had its small shrine, or "god shelf" (Kami-dana, at which the family would gather at certain times of the day to genuflect in the direction of the Imperial Palace. The people had no civil liberties, no civil rights, no habeus corpus. Instead they were given the absilute obligations to obey orders. Truth was unknown. The purpose of conversation was to be polite, not to convey information. The smallest departure from courtesy was prohibited by law. the kempei-tai, the Japanese gestapo, imprisoned countless thousands for harboring, or giving the impression of harboring, "dangerous thoughts." It was, MacArthur wrote, "more ... akin to Sparta than any modern nation." It was also imitative of Europena totalitarianism.5

{p. 472} ...Clearly a political hanami lay ahead, but the General's liberal programs were preempting the reform issue. Some Japanese had even mad a pun of their pronunciation of his name, "Makassar," since the kanji characters for it can be read as "left-red," and it became more appropriate with each decision he made. Moreover, the number of Marxist converts dropped sharply when Stalin, breaking a wartime commitment to roosevelt and Churchill here as in so many matters, decided to keep 376,00 Japanese soldiers of the Kwantung army, who had been stationed in Manchuria, as Siberian slave laborers.26

{p. 503} In Japan {women} had never been equal. Concubinage and family contract marriages, consigning wives to servility, had been lawful. Women had been forbidden to own property; indeed, they had had no economic, legal, or political rights at all. Girls had gone to their schools, if there were any, after the sixth grade. Public-scholl courses had been segregated by sex — with the curriculum and textws pitched lower for girls — and there had been no colleges for women. Adultry had been licit for husbands but illicit for wives. The new Diet had to face this form of sexism squarely in an early session. Under the MacArthur constitution, lawmakers had a choice: either
{p.504} both partners to an adultry were punishable, or neither was. After anhuished debate, the legislators invited correspondence from their constituents. In the past, voters had never written the Diet; the had read its edicts, trembled, and obeyed. Now, in the new spirit, a blizzard of mail arrived, and after reading it the delegates abolished adultry as a crime.

Contract marriage went; so did concubinage. Marriage and divorce statutes were rewritten. High schools became coeducational, and twenty-six women's universitites opened. In the provinces women were elected to public office in increasing numbers: 23 to the prefectural assemblies, 74 to the city councils, and 707 to town assemblies. by the third year of the occupation a tradition had been established that every national cabinet must include a woman vice-minister, and before macArthur left japan, two Diet committtees would be chaired by women...



123 MacArthur Reminiscences 261; Forrestal 17

5 Reischauer Japanese 78-84; MacArthur Reminiscences 284; Gavin M. Long 188; Sheean in Holiday 12/1949, "Making Milwaukee Famous," Newsweek 7/28/1947; Brines 27

26 Reischauer Japanese 105; "I Remember Mac," Newsweek 4/19/1948; "New Door to Asia," T 5/9/1949


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