Japan's Proconsul

The SCAP appointment order contained the following clause: “From the moment of surrender, the authority of the Emperor and Japanese Government to rule the state will be subject to you and you will take such steps as you deem proper to effectuate the surrender terms.” Thus, MacArthur became the de facto leader of Japan and its 71 million citizens. (This number increased to 83 million by 1950.)

On August 30, 1945, MacArthur, who was now beyond the Army's statutory retirement age of 64, flew into the Atsugi airport on the plane he had named Bataan. Unarmed and accompanied by a small party, he entered a nation that had been a bitter enemy until just days before. The twenty-mile drive to Yokohama took two hours. The sides of the ...

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