Shall We Destroy Japanese
Trade and Industry?
Economic recovery in East Asia.
We have now reached a phase of the problem of postwar Japan
which should be considered on a basis of what is best for the people of Asia
and the world, rather than on a basis of what we may feel.
of whether Japan
deserves to recover from the devastation of war is, of course, open to debate.
Advocates of extreme penalties against Japan
propose that Japan
be deprived of its industries and foreign trade as a guarantee of remaining unarmed
and as punishment for crimes against its neighbors. Complete elimination of such
industries as iron and steel, shipbuilding and aircraft manufacture would, they
point out, make it impossible for Japan
to embark on a war with any chance of success for many years to come.
the most extreme of these proposals were carried out, Japan
would be reduced to an agricultural country, supporting its population by farming
and handicrafts. Distributing the former Japanese overseas trade among the United
Nations has also been suggested.
Those who fear Japan’s rapid recovery point
to Germany’s industrial development and rearmament after the last war. This was
possible only because Germany’s factories, though worn, were intact. But economists
who would preserve Japanese industry reply that Japan
is no second Germany.
The Nazis inherited the economic heart of a continent, while Japan,
deprived of its empire, will lack both the foreign exchange and the raw materials
for building up a formidable war machine.
Advocates of a moderate policy
agree that Japan
should be completely disarmed. But they point out that widespread unemployment
and perhaps even starvation of a considerable part of the Japanese people can
be prevented only by permitting them to rebuild their factories and by giving
them access to raw materials in Asia and the South Pacific.
one kind o f industry harmless?
Some students of the subject discriminate
between “heavy”and “light”industries, recommending that Japan
give up the machinery which turns out steel rails or guns, and keep the factories
making goods that everyone buys and uses. Japan
has concentrated in recent years on piling up munitions of war. Doubtless many
plants built or enlarged since 1930 could be scrapped without wrecking the country’s
peacetime economy. But some “heavy”industry, it is said, would be needed to support
the restored “light”industries that may be turning out large quantities of consumers’
goods in Japan
after the war.
Economists agree that a ruined and unproductive nation is
a sore from which economic infection can spread to an, entire region. A Japan
without industry and foreign trade might well retard recovery throughout East
Asia. Moreover, the Atlantic Charter promises all peoples “access,
on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed
for their economic prosperity.”At the Crimea Conference, however, British, Soviet,
and American leaders declared their determination to “remove or destroy all German
military equipment; eliminate or control all German industry that could be used
for military production.”Whether a similar policy will be adopted toward Japan
remains to be seen.
is permitted to keep its people employed and fed, through restoring at least a
part of its prewar industry and commerce, some observers believe that Japan
will cooperate more willingly with the victor nations. The products of Japanese
shops and factories will be needed in the rebuilding of China.
Past experience shows that, when they do not have Japanese bayonets at their backs,
the people of Asia and Oceania welcome
Japanese cheap merchandise manufactured at a price they can afford to pay.
is an apparent conflict between two of our purposes—economic recovery in East
Asia and military security for ourselves. But it may be possible to achieve both
if we can keep Japan
from manufacturing the instruments of war while permitting the Japanese to redevelop
peaceful industry and trade. The final decision as to what treatment Japanese
industry and commerce are to receive will probably depend, to a large degree,
upon what type of postwar government develops in Japan.