The occupation of Japan was driven by a sense of urgency, the need to dismantle the old order and a new constitution had to be written before an opposition to the efforts could arise. It was only estimated to take a couple of years, but actually took seven years to eradicate the authoritarian system and build up a liberal democratic society.
In the Potsdam Declaration of 1945, the US, Britain, and China called for the removal of individuals responsible for the war and the punishment of war criminals. The structure of the economy would change to allow for the payment of reparation and prevent rearmament. The values of Democracy would be instilled and the ideology of imperialistic ways abolished. All of Japan’s overseas assets would be lost and thus limiting its dominion to the four main islands.
The first objective was the timely demobilization of Japan’s armed forces. Over 6.5 million soldiers had to travel back home, dispose of their weaponry, and find a way of working and reintegration within society. The structure of the military, which was the basis of government and politics, was dismantled.
A greater concern for human rights and civil liberties was instilled in the population in an effort to keep Japan from repeating the imperialistic and authoritarian ways of the past. This was achieved through educational reforms that were put into place. A less rigid structure allowed for a greater number of people to attend educational facilities. An attempt to mimic US education was implemented in an effort to focus more on the development of the individual. More emphasis was placed on interpretation and analysis as opposed to the traditional methods.
The occupation encouraged a strong labor movement and the American ideology of unionization. This reform of the labor system would abolish laws, ordinances, and other restrictions that prohibited civil liberties. The unionization of Japan was short-lived and eventually the promotion of unionization was weakened by discouragement of industry-wide unions.
Unlike the labor reforms, the land reforms proved to be quite successful. This was partially due to the Japanese wanting to reform the problem along with the American agenda.
Lastly, the occupation was determined to dismantle the zaibatsu, large groups of business that had acquired goods during war. These groups had economic and political power and were believed to be major supporters of militarization. Despite the many efforts to disband the zaibatsu, the effort was eventually given up due to opposition from overseas business and ongoing Cold War agendas.