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General D Macarthur

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General D. MacArthur

On the morning of September 8, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur made his way by automobile toward the American Embassy in the heart of Tokyo. One American observer described it as a city "completely flat with destruction," where even "the rubble did not look like much." As he presided over a ceremony at the Embassy -- his home for the next five and a half years -- MacArthur ordered General Eichelberger to "have our country's flag unfurled, and in Tokyo's sun let it wave in its full glory as a symbol of hope for the oppressed and as a harbinger of victory for the right." This moment was not broadcast throughout the world as the surrender ceremony aboard the U.S.S. Missouri had been six days earlier. Yet in hindsight, it was just as symbolic of the occupation period to follow: optimistic, thoroughly American, and unmistakably MacArthur.

Although the occupation was nominally an allied enterprise -- MacArthur's title was Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, or SCAP -- it was very much an American show, and there was no doubt who was in charge. As historian Michael Schaller has noted, "From its inception, the occupation became synonymous with its supreme commander. Although few Americans could name the man in charge of the German occupation (General Lucius Clay and, later, John J. McCloy) most could readily identify the top man in Tokyo."

Reference: American Experience. 2009. MacArthur and the Japanese Occupation (1945-1951). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 January 14].

Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 14, 1945, when the Japanese government notified the Allies that it had accepted the Potsdam Declaration. On the following day, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender on the radio (the Gyokuon-hōsō). The announcement was the emperor's first ever radio broadcast and the first time most citizens of Japan ever heard their sovereign's voice. This date is known as Victory Over Japan, or V-J Day, and marked the end of World War II and the beginning of a long road to recovery for a shattered Japan.
On V-J Day, United States President Harry Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), to supervise the occupation of Japan. During the war, the Allied Powers had planned to divide Japan amongst themselves for the purposes of occupation, as was done for the occupation of Germany.

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