On August 18. 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving American women the right to vote. When the Occupation of Japan began in 1945, the Nineteenth Amendment was a mere 25 years old but already so well ingrained in U.S. national identity that the thought of women’s suffrage wasn’t revolutionary to General Douglas MacArthur, who led the Occupation as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers to Japan. He made it clear from the start of the Occupation that the emancipation of Japanese women was a top priority – and one of the most sensible things SCAP could do. In his statements at the time – and then later in his autobiography – he made it very clear that enfranchising women was a way to democratize, and then stabilize democracy. To discuss Occupation policy and women’s suffrage in Japan, the MacArthur Memorial Podcast hosted Col. Cornelia Weiss (USAF, Ret.), a former JAG officer and an expert on General MacArthur’s women’s emancipation policy.
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