Featured Blogger Report: Feeding and Occupying Japan // Pacific Paratrooper #AceHistoryDesk reports

MacArthur’s first priority was to set up a food distribution network; following the collapse of the ruling government and the wholesale destruction of most major cities, virtually everyone was starving. Even with these measures, millions of people were still on the brink of starvation for several years after the surrender. As expressed by Kawai Kazuo, “Democracy cannot be taught to a starving people”. The US government encouraged democratic reform in Japan, and while it sent billions of dollars in food aid, this was dwarfed by the occupation costs it imposed on the struggling Japanese administration.

Initially, the US government provided emergency food relief through Government and Relief in Occupied Areas (GARIOA) funds. In fiscal year 1946, this aid amounted to US $92 million in loans. From April 1946, in the guise Licensed Agencies for Relief, private relief organizations were also permitted to provide relief.

MacArthur and Hirohito, first meeting

Once the food network was in place MacArthur set out to win the support of Hirohito. The two men met for the first time on September 27; the photograph of the two together is one of the most famous in Japanese history. Some were shocked that MacArthur wore his standard duty uniform with no tie instead of his dress uniform when meeting the emperor. With the sanction of Japan’s reigning monarch, MacArthur had the political ammunition he needed to begin the real work of the occupation.

While other Allied political and military leaders pushed for Hirohito to be tried as a war criminal, MacArthur resisted such calls, arguing that any such prosecution would be overwhelmingly unpopular with the Japanese people. He also rejected the claims of members of the imperial family such as Prince Mikasa and Prince Higashikuni and demands of intellectuals like Tatsuji Miyoshi, who sought the emperor’s abdication.

By the end of 1945, more than 350,000 U.S. personnel were stationed throughout Japan. By the beginning of 1946, replacement troops began to arrive in the country in large numbers and were assigned to MacArthur’s 8th Army, headquartered in Tokyo’s Dai-Ichi building.

Of the main Japanese islands, Kyushu was occupied by the 24th Infantry Division, with some responsibility for Shikoku. Honshu was occupied by the 1st Calvary Division. Hokkaido was occupied by the 11th Airborne Division.

By June 1950, all these army units had suffered extensive troop reductions and their combat effectiveness was seriously weakened. When North Korea invaded South Korea in the Korean War, elements of the 24th Division were flown into South Korea to try to fight the invasion force there, but the inexperienced occupation troops, while acquitting themselves well when suddenly thrown into combat almost overnight, suffered heavy casualties and were forced into retreat until other Japan occupation troops could be sent to assist.

Groups involved and running parallel to SCAP (MacArthur),

two women in Sasebo, Japan, Sept-Oct. 1945

The official British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), composed of Australian, British, Indian, and New Zealand personnel, was deployed on February 21, 1946. While U.S. forces were responsible for the overall occupation, BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarization and the disposal of Japan’s war industries. BCOF was also responsible for occupation of several western prefectures and had its headquarters at Kure. At its peak, the force numbered about 40,000 personnel. During 1947, BCOF began to decrease its activities in Japan, and officially wound up in 1951.

The Far Eastern Commission and Allied Council for Japan were also established to supervise the occupation of Japan. The establishment of a multilateral Allied council for Japan was proposed by the Soviet government as early as September 1945, and was supported partially by the British, French and Chinese governments.

Click on images to enlarge,

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Jeffrey Aylward – Plymouth, MA; 176th Ordnance/82nd Airborne Division

Harold Bakken – Kent, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Robert Coleman – Nashua, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Robert Fraley – Flora, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

John Isbell – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, WWII

Jerry Koerner – Paducah, KY; US Army, Vietnam

Leslie May – NZ; RNZ Navy # MX117905, WWII, ETO

Thomas Rice – Columbia, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Robert Steiner – St. Paul, MN; US Army, 81mm gunner, 86th Infantry Division

Timothy Woos – Salem, VA; US Army, SSgt., 2nd Infantry Division

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Source: // Pacific Paratrooper

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