SHEATHING THE SWORD: The Demilitarization of Japan by Meirion & Susie Hurries Harries

SHEATHING THE SWORD: The Demilitarization of Japan

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A thoughtful, often provocative inquiry that provides perspectives on post-WW II Japan, which differ from but complement those of Theodore Cohen in his worldly-wise memoir, Remaking Japan (p. 687). Where Cohen viewed the Occupation (from the inside) as an imperfect extension of the New Deal, the Harrieses focus on whether Japan has broken with its martial past and traditions. Drawing on recently declassified files from SCAP (Supreme Command, Allied Powers), they review the victors' well-intentioned efforts to democratize the vanquished. Liberal reforms proved difficult to institute in a semi-feudal society accustomed to authority and monopoly, the authors show. Nor did SCAP gain much ground with the badly handled Nuremburg-type trial it staged; the Harrieses attribute this latter failure largely to the political decision not to indict Emperor Hirochito. Near the heart of the matter for the authors is Article 9 of Japan's SCAP-drafted Constitution, which somewhat ambiguously renounces war and arms for all time. Called ""an honest mistake"" by Vice President Nixon in 1953, Article 9 did not and does not reflect the wishes of American policy makers, which were and are, the Harrieses assert, to make an ally of a former enemy. Despite incremental rearmament, they conclude, Japan has been effectively demilitarized. This being the case, Washington would be well advised to consider the contributions, other than troops, that the island nation could make to the Western alliance. An incisive, judgmental audit that offers useful context for a contemporary controversy.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1987
Publisher: Macmillan