The American Occupation of Japan: A Retrospective View

Grant Goodman’s 1968 book (available here in free pdf) published by the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas. Goodman served in the U.S. armed forces during the occupation, and later became a professor of History at Kansas, where he compiled this work sixteen years after the formal end of the occupation.

If there is a twinge of nostalgia for those days among Goodman and his contributors, they are conscious of it and dissect it as a part of their study. Goodman was as concerned with what we would now call the “social” history of the occupation as he was with its particulars, contrasting the American triumph with the Japanese trauma and what that difference means for the Japan-American relationship.

If there is a compelling reason to re-examine the period and its aftermath today, it is to try and understand the emotion around the issue of of U.S. bases in Japan, in particular Okinawa. Barring a second Korean War, I think we are a decade or less away from the U.S. being asked to depart its bases in Japan – sooner in the event of a resolution of the North Korean issue. The better we understand why, the less that departure will damage the relationship between the two countries.

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