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FOREIGN OFFICE FILES FOR JAPAN AND THE FAR EAST
Series Three: Embassy & Consular Archives - Japan (post 1945)
(Public Record Office Class FO 262)


Detailed Correspondence for 1945-1957 (PRO Class FO 262/2040-2132)

BRIEF CHRONOLOGY, 1945-1957

1945:

August Japanese Government accepts Allied surrender terms.

September Instrument of Surrender signed on board USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Emperor Hirohito meets General MacArthur at the American Embassy.

Yoshida Shigeru becomes Japan’s Foreign Minister.

October General Headquarters, Supreme Commander Allied Powers, established in Tokyo under General Douglas MacArthur.

November Foundation of the Japan Socialist Party.

December Trade Union Law gives workers the right to join trade unions.

American food imports necessary to avert famine in Japan.

Prince Konoye commits suicide rather that face trial as a war criminal.

1946:

January The Emperor renounces his divinity in a new year address.

SCAP begins purge of those officials it considers responsible for Japan’s envolvement in the War.

April Elections, held with revised election law giving voting rights to women, won by a coalition party of Liberals and Progressives.

May Yoshida Shigeru becomes Prime Minister after the coalition’s leader, Hatoyama, was purged by SCAP.

International Military Tribunal for the Far East begins proceedings against major Japanese war criminals.

September All political prisoners released.

October Land Reform Law redistributes land in favour of tennants..

November A new constitution; establishing the rights and freedoms of the Japanese people, and committing the nation to pacifism, is promulgated by the Emperor.

1947:

March General MacArthur announces his intention of working towards the conclusion of a full peace treaty with Japan.

April Elections see the Japan Socialist Party winning the highest number of seats, and forming a coalition government with the Democratic and the Co-operative parties.

May Katayama Tetsu, leader of the Japan Socialist Party, becomes Prime Minister.

The Socialist led government brings in legislation allowing the new Constitution to come into effect, and, under pressure from SCAP, continues the flow of social legislation.

The Labour Standards Laws are introduced along with the Fundamental Law on Education, the School Education Law. Later in the year the anti-trust Economic Deconcentration Law, designed to break up the “Zaibatsu” groups, was introduced by Katayama’s Government.

Ashida Hitoshi replaces Yoshida Shigeru as Foreign Minister.

SCAP bans General Strike.

 

1948:

SCAP’s policy toward Japan begins to change from one of social reform, to an emphasis on economic revival and political stability in order to rebuild the country as a US ally in the Cold War.

The Strike and Johnston reports both call for the economic recovery of Japan.

February Prime Minister Katayama resigns.

March Ashida Hitoshi, leader of the Democratic party, replaces Katayama as Prime Minister. SCAP puts pressure on the new leadership to reverse social legislation; in particular to withdraw from government employees the rights to collective bargaining and to strike.

August The Republic of Korea is founded.

October Showa Denko scandal brings down Ashida’s government.

Yoshida Shigeru becomes Prime Minister, as well as returning to the post of Foreign Minister.

November International Military Tribunal for the Far East closes its war crimes proceedings.

December Seven Japanese war criminals, found guilty by the International Military Tribunal, are executed.

1949:

January The general election called after the fall of Ashida’s government shows increased support for radical left wing parties, but Yoshida’s Democratic Liberal Party wins a clear majority.

Comprehensive anti-inflation measures introduced by the ‘Dodge Plan’ result in increased unemployment and economic hardships.

March General MacArthur tells foreign correspondents that he believed the majority of the Occupation’s work was done, and that a peace treaty and Allied withdrawal should be swiftly negotiated.

August Chinese Nationalists retreat to Taiwain.

October Communists proclaims the establishment of The People’s Republic of China.

 

1950:

January United Kingdom recognises the People’s Republic of China.

June The Korean war breaks out and Japan becomes of vital strategic importance to the United Nations forces. The war also gives a great boost to the Japanese economy and manufacturing.

The creation of a National Police Reserve establishes a military force despite Article 9 of the Constitution which denied Japan the right of belligerency.

‘Red Purge’ in Japan removes 1,177 government employees who are members of the Japan Communist Party, from their positions.

October UN forces cross into North Korea and capture P’yôngyang. First clashes with Chinese ‘volunteers’.

November Massive Chinese offensive launched against U N forces.

December Communists regain P’yôngyang.

 

1951:

January Communist forces capture Seoul.

February First United Nations Counter Offensive, ‘Operation Killer’, launched in Korea.

March Seoul regained by U N forces.

April U N forces advance as far as the 38th Parallel.

General MacArthur dismissed as Supreme Commander by President Truman; replaced by Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgeway.

June Soviet Union proposes that representatives of U N and Communist forces begin discussions aimed at a cease-fire in Korea.

July Truce negotiations begin between Korean War belligerents at Kaesòng.

September Conference held at San Francisco to negotiate a Japanese Peace Treaty attended by representatives of 51 countries, but the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia refused to endorse the final agreement.

Security pact between Japan and the United States also agreed at the San Francisco Conference.

1952:

National Police Reserve is reorganized as National Security Force.

April Japanese Peace Treaty brought into effect and full sovereignty returned to Japan. The end of the Allied Occupation.

May 1,232 workers arrested during a May Day demonstration, under the Riot Law .

Sir Maberley Esler Dening confirmed as British Ambassador in Tokyo.

October General elections for the Lower House of the Diet sees increase in support for socialist parties, but a collapse of the Japan Communist Party’s vote.

1953:

Television broadcasting begins in Japan.

Fresh elections following the dissolution of the House of Representatives sees further gains for the socialists, whilst support for Yoshida’s Liberal Party declines.

July Korean truce signed at P’anmunjòm.

1954:

Lucky Dragon’ incident provokes a wave of anti-American feeling in Japan.

Defence Agency and Self Defence Force established.

Mutual Defence Assistance Agreement signed between Japan and the United States.

Shipbuilding scandal brings down the government; Yoshida resigns and is replaced by Hatoyama Ichiro as Premier of Japan.

December Hatoyama Ichiró becomes Prime Minister.

1955:

February Hatoyama’s Democratic Party victorious in Lower House elections

Japan enters into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

November Merging of the Liberal and Democratic parties in Japan to form the Liberal Democratic Party.

 

1956:

Japan joins the United Nations.

A White Paper on the Economy declares an “end to the post-war period”.

Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration establishes diplomatic links between the two countries.

December Hatoyama resigns his premiership and is replaced by Ishibashi Tanzan.

 

1957:

January Kishi Nobusuki takes over as acting Prime Minister.

February Kishi Nobusuki becomes Prime Minister.

March Kishi Nobusuki becomes President of the Liberal Democratic Party.

September Sir Daniel William Lascelles replaces M E Dening as British Ambassador in Tokyo.

Japanese expedition establishes the Showa Station in Antarctica.

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