1947 New Japanese constitution goes into effect On May 3, 1947, Japan’s postwar constitution goes into effect. The progressive constitution granted universal suffrage, stripped Emperor Hirohito of all but symbolic power, stipulated a bill of rights, abolished peerage, and outlawed Japan’s right to make war. The document was largely the work of Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur and his occupation staff, who had prepared the draft in February 1946 after a Japanese attempt was deemed unacceptable. As the defender of the Philippines from 1941 to 1942, and commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific theater from 1942 to 1945, Douglas MacArthur was the most acclaimed American general in the war against Japan. On September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, he presided over the official surrender of Japan. According to the terms of surrender, Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese government were subject to the authority of the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers in occupied Japan, a post filled by General MacArthur. On September 8, Supreme Commander MacArthur made his way by automobile through the ruins of Tokyo to the American embassy, which would be his home for the next five and a half years. The occupation was to be a nominally Allied enterprise, but increasing Cold War division left Japan firmly in the American sphere of influence. From his General Headquarters, which overlooked the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, MacArthur presided over an extremely productive reconstruction of Japanese government, industry, and society along American models. MacArthur was a gifted administrator, and his progressive reforms were for the most part welcomed by the Japanese people. World War II. Hirohito feared, with good reason, that he might be indicted as a war criminal and the Japanese imperial house abolished. MacArthur’s constitution at least preserved the emperor as the “symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” so Hirohito offered his support. Many conservatives in the government were less enthusiastic, but on April 10, 1946, the new constitution was endorsed in popular elections that allowed Japanese women to vote for the first time. The final draft, slightly revised by the Japanese government, was made public one week later. On November 3, it was promulgated by the Diet–the Japanese parliament–and on May 3, 1947, it came into force. The most important reform carried out by the American occupation was the establishment of a new constitution to replace the 1889 Meiji Constitution. In early 1946, the Japanese government submitted a draft for a new constitution to the General Headquarters, but it was rejected for being too conservative. MacArthur ordered his young staff to draft their own version in one week. The document, submitted to the Japanese government on February 13, 1946, protected the civil liberties MacArthur had introduced and preserved the emperor, though he was stripped of power. Article 9 forbade the Japanese ever to wage war again. Before Japan’s defeat, Emperor Hirohito was officially regarded as Japan’s absolute ruler and a quasi-divine figure. Although his authority was sharply limited in practice, he was consulted with by the Japanese government and approved of its expansionist policies from 1931 through World War II. Hirohito feared, with good reason, that he might be indicted as a war criminal and the Japanese imperial house abolished. MacArthur’s constitution at least preserved the emperor as the “symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” so Hirohito offered his support. Many conservatives in the government were less enthusiastic, but on April 10, 1946, the new constitution was endorsed in popular elections that allowed Japanese women to vote for the first time. The final draft, slightly revised by the Japanese government, was made public one week later. On November 3, it was promulgated by the Diet–the Japanese parliament–and on May 3, 1947, it came into force. In 1948, Yoshida Shigeru’s election as prime minister ushered in the Yoshida era, marked by political stability and rapid economic growth in Japan. In 1949, MacArthur gave up much of his authority to the Japanese government, and in September 1951 the United States and 48 other nations signed a formal peace treaty with Japan. On April 28, 1952, the treaty went into effect, and Japan assumed full sovereignty as the Allied occupation came to an end. 1951 Congressional hearings on General MacArthur The Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, meeting in closed session, begin their hearings into the dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur by President Harry S. Truman. The hearings served as a sounding board for MacArthur and his extremist views on how the Cold War should be fought. General MacArthur served as commander of U.S. forces during the Korean Waruntil 1951. In late 1950 he made a serious strategic blunder when he dismissed warnings that the People’s Republic of China would enter the conflict on the side of its communist ally, North Korea. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops smashed into the American lines in November 1950, driving the U.S. troops back with heavy losses. MacArthur, who had earlier complained about President Truman’s handling of the war, now went on an all-out public relations attack against the president and his Cold War policies. In numerous public statements and interviews, General MacArthur criticized Truman’s timidity. He also asked for permission to carry out bombing attacks against China and to expand the war. President Truman flatly refused, believing that expanding the war would lead to a possible confrontation with the Soviet Union and World War III. On April 11, 1951, President Truman removed MacArthur from his command. Though Truman clearly did not appreciate MacArthur’s approach, the American public liked his tough stance on communism, and he returned home to a hero’s welcome. On May 3, 1951, just a few days after MacArthur’s return to the United States, the Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Relations Committees began hearings into his dismissal. Partisan politics played a significant role in the hearings, which were instigated by Republican senators eager to discredit the Democratic administration of Harry Truman. MacArthur was the featured witness, and he spoke for more than six hours at the opening session of the hearings. He condemned Truman’s Cold War foreign policy, arguing that if the president’s “inhibitions” about the war in Korea had been removed the conflict could have been “wound up” without a “very great additional complement of ground troops.” He went on to suggest that only through a strategy of complete military destruction of the communist empire could the U.S. hope to win the Cold War. The hearings ended after seven weeks, with no definite conclusions reached about MacArthur’s dismissal. However, the general’s extremist stance and intemperate statements concerning the need for an expanded conflict against communism during the hearings soon eroded his popularity with the American public. MacArthur attempted to garner the Republican presidential nomination in 1952, but lost to the more moderate campaign of another famed military leader, Dwight D. Eisenhower.