University of Oulu

In search of suitable political leadership : Japanese conservatives in occupation plans and policies 1942–1947

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Author: Saunavaara, Juha1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Humanities, General History
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2010
Publish Date: 2010-05-19
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Oulu for public defence in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on 29 May 2010, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Chiharu Inaba
Associate Professor Yoneyuki Sugita


The emergence of a cabinet and political parties that could be called democratic was one of the focal objectives for the Allied Occupation of Japan that lasted from 1945 until 1952. Cooperation with the local political actors was also necessitated by the model of indirect rule through domestic institutions that was adopted. The occupation authorities were actively seeking suitable political leadership to govern Japan and were ready to intervene in the development of Japan’s domestic politics for the sake of achieving their goals. Great efforts were, however, made not to distract the democratic façade that covered the undemocratic and non-transparent behind-the-scenes orders. It was important to make the selection of the new political leadership to appear as something that originated from the freely expressed will of the Japanese people.

This dissertation offers the first narrative identifying and analyzing the characteristics of the occupation authorities’ policy concerning the Japanese conservatives at the beginning of the occupation. The study emphasizes the importance of understanding the planning period’s influence on the actual occupation policy and introduces a wartime discussion concerning the Japanese conservatives. The process of sorting out the most suitable Japanese leaders in 1942–1947 can be divided into several phases. What was considered suitable varied during different times, but what was expected from the suitable Japanese leadership remained rather unchanged. The planners of the occupation looked for moderate conservatives: who were to be thanked for Japan’s prewar steps toward democracy; who were not to be blamed for the war; and who were to help in the reconstruction process. At the beginning of the occupation, the occupation authorities sought for cooperative conservative statesmen who would be ready to follow the wishes of the occupier and yet claim the reforms as their own initiatives. After the first postwar general election in April 1946 this rule had to be connected with the conservative parties. Finally, the occupation authorities began to search for suitable middle-of-the-road conservatives who could, together with the right-wing of the Socialist Party, to continue the previous cabinet’s work while ensuring the social stability and the success of reforms in the changing situation.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. B, Humaniora
ISSN-E: 1796-2218
ISBN: 978-951-42-6175-6
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-6174-9
Issue: 93
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2010. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.