Publication Details

Gerster, R. & De Matos, C. M. (2009). Introduction. In C. M. De Matos & R. Gerster (Eds.), Occupying the "other": Australia and military occupations from Japan to Iraq (pp. 1-11). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


“Military occupation” suggests a transitory and transitional state rather permanent annexation or sovereign control. In practice, however, the takeover can seem to be total, obliterating the independent life of the occupied country. When the American writer Harry Roskolenko, a sometime resident of Australia, visited occupied Japan in early 1947, he observed that the hierarchy of the United States military had been superimposed over the social landscape of the country. At the top of the new pecking order was “SCAP”, personified by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur. “If General MacArthur is the unconscious Emperor-Elect,” Roskolenko wrote, “then every GI over the rank of 2nd lieutenant is a prince”, and the common soldiery “mere barons and dukes”.1 In newly-feudal Japan, the Japanese themselves were invisible. From the usurped Emperor Hirohito down, they had become nameless serfs, at the pleasure of the conquerors.

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