EM 15: What Shall Be Done about Japan after Victory? (1945)

What Shall Be Done about Japan after Victory?By Kenneth Colegrove
Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University

Rewritten by Richard Hart
Assistant Librarian at Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore

(Published June 1945)



Why did Japan choose war?

  • It's our problem now
  • What were the causes of aggression?
  • Japan's "divine mission"
  • Why are the Japanese easily led?
  • Military fascism raises its ugly head
  • Tradition and the constitution
  • Discontented militarists
  • The army moves in
  • The first blow
  • Military mutiny
  • The chance of a century

Did Japan have to go to war for economic reasons?

  • Lebensraum and "co-prosperity"

Could the United States have avoided a showdown?

What should we do when Japan has been defeated?

How can we keep the Japanese from future aggression?

  • Must Japan be disarmed and occupied?
  • How long should occupation last?
  • Are the details all decided?
  • Will collective security answer the need?
  • What will happen to the Empire?

Should Japan pay damages?

  • Justice to Japan's victims

Can Japan pay damages?

Can we find a punishment that fits the crimes?

  • War criminals

Shall we destroy Japanese trade and industry?

  • Economic recovery in East Asia
  • Is one kind of industry harmless?

What sort of government for postwar Japan?

  • How about Hirohito?
  • What can we do about it?

Can Japan get in step with a peaceable world?

Portfolio of Images

  • I. Prewar Face
  • II. School for War
  • III. Rape of China
  • IV. Inside Japan

To the discussion leader

Suggestions for further reading


On December 8, 1941, America straightened up after Japan’s blow below the belt, full of the anger a fighter feels when he has been badly hurt and knows that his own overconfidence was partly to blame. Out of those bitter early days of the war, ending in the surrender of Corregidor, came one lesson that millions of Americans will not have to learn a second time. We know now that wars do not begin all at once on a quiet Sunday—that it takes years to make a war and that we had ample opportunity to watch this one in the making.