The Neutral City – Intervention/ influence of SCAP on the urban planning and industrialisation

Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP)

As a defeated country, Japan was occupied by the Allied Power during the post-war period. SCAP stands as the title of the US General Douglas MacArthur during the Allied occupation from 1949 to 1952. Under his rule, Japan still had elections for the Diet and the Prime Minister. With his leadership, Japan was smoothly transferred from a totalitarian state to a democratic country. SCAP was generally known as GHQ (General Headquarters) in Japan, as it was referred to the office of the occupation. (“Hiroshima for Global Peace” Plan Joint Project Executive Committee, 2015).

Post-war occupation reforms

The major goals of the occupation were demilitarisation and democratisation. The occupation authorities aimed to eliminate the existing political and social structures that were believed to be the basis of Japan’s totalitarian control and military aggregation. A new constitution was formulated that celebrated sovereignty of the people: creating a new election system that based on universal suffrage and the principle of equality; upholding judicial independence; granting the local government higher degree of administrative independence and finally eliminating the military and imperial court  (Sorensen, 2002).

Land reform

To alleviate social unrest and tenant poverty in the rural area, land reform was carried out under the occupation supervision, which had enduring impacts on later urbanization by breaking down most of the land ownerships. One-third of the farmland in the country was redistributed from landlords to cultivators. All the land with unknown ownership and large (above 3 hectares) owner-cultivated land was bought by the government and redistributed to tenants, thus every farmer could obtain a certain amount of land. Despite land parcels were small and fragmented, the total number of farms grew from 5.4 million in 1940 to 6.2 million in 1950 (Dore, 1959). Productivity in the agricultural sector was enhanced as peasants were motivated to cultivate their own land as they owned part of it. Moreover, the peasant families were less likely to move into cities to look for employment as they were satisfied with owning some land. In the 1950s, the farm population in the state remained stable and high with the number of 6 million farm households and 16-16.5 million farm workers (Dore, 1959).

Agriculture had offered a strong base for industrial development, as stable food supply was guarantee for the growing population in cities, agricultural products were exported in exchange for imported machinery and raw materials. Increase in land tax revenue for the state formed a substantial funding for building massive infrastructure that facilitated industrial development.

Although the existing rural villages in Hiroshima to a large extent belonged to the egalitarian type, where the landlords had less influence on the use of farmlands, the development of a cooperative organisation required for agricultural development was still impressive, and the influence of landlords was completely removed after 1950 (Dore, 1959).

The state of announcement of exchange lot – land was exchanged and houses were relocated to acquire more land for constructing roads and planning

source: 広島都市生活研究会編 (1985)『広島被爆40年史―都市の復興』広島市企画調整局文化担当










“Hiroshima for Global Peace” Plan Joint Project Executive Committee. (2015). Hiroshima’s Path to Reconstruction.

Sorensen, Andre. (2002). The Making of Urban Japan: Cities and Planning from Edo to the Twenty First Century. Routledge.

Dore, R.P. (1959). Land reform and Japan’s economic development. The Developing Economies. Vol 3, Issue 4. p.487-496

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.