October 4, 1945: The Birth of Japanese Civil Liberties

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General MacArthur wasted no time in letting the Japanese government know precisely the direction that the new Japan would take. By his directive of October 4, 1945,  (SCAPIN-93) he ordered the Japanese government to remove restrictions on the civil, political and religious rights of Japanese citizens.

Five days after the directive, the Japanese prime minister resigned, unwilling to carry out this sweeping change.  His successor released all political prisoners, repealed or abrogated fifteen laws restricting the rights of the Japanese people and began a far sweeping purge of government officials wedded to the old regime. 

After initially balking at the democratization wished by MacArthur, the Japanese government was now committed to carrying out his drastic reshaping of Japanese government and society.

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One Comment

  1. Japan had a competitive parliamentary system prior to 1938, albeit one with a limited franchise of the sort characteristic of post-Napoleonic Europe. Shy of a quarter of the adult population cast ballots in the 1930 elections, A generation earlier, it had been below 5%. Not sure how free public deliberation was, or what sort of immunities the general public had in dealing with the authorities. The military paid no heed to elected officials after 1930. In our time and place, it’s the legal profession who appear to be beyond control.

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