An American in Japan, 1945-1948: A Civilian View of the Occupation

Jacob Van Staaveren, Author, Staavern Jacob Van, Author, Akira Iriya, Designed by
Jacob Van Staaveren, Author, Staavern Jacob Van, Author, Akira Iriya, Designed by University of Washington Press $35 (286p) ISBN 978-0-295-97363-0
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Van Staaveren was an American civilian information and education officer assigned to the U.S. occupation authorities in Japan, tasked with advising and assisting officials and citizens of Yamanashi Prefecture on the democratization of their education system, adult organizations, labor unions and local elections in conformity with General Douglas MacArthur's directives. Much of Van Staaveren's work involved reforming the prewar education system at the primary and middle-school levels, plus related matters such as introducing school-lunch programs and monitoring the development of teacher unionism. His well-written memoir provides ample evidence of the earnestness with which the Americans and the Japanese sought to effect fundamental changes during this watershed period in U.S.-Japan relations. Based on letters, notes and reports he wrote during his three years in Japan, Van Staaveren's account of the American occupation at ground level is informative and emotionally affecting because of the author's faith that the policies he was implementing would benefit the people of the province. Photos. (Apr.)
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