chapter  23
Britain’s View of Postwar Japan, 1945–49
Pages 18

AT MIDNIGHT on 14 August 1945 the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, broadcast a simple message commemorating the ending of the Pacific war. In its emphasis this brief statement indicated the first salient feature of Britain’s view of post-war Asia, and, implicitly, of Japan’s significance within it. Essentially Attlee paid tribute to the ‘men from this country, from the Dominions, from India and the Colonies…that fought so well in the arduous campaign against Japan’. He recognized the decisive role of the United States but devoted special thought to ‘our friends in the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand, in India, in Burma and in those colonial territories upon which the brunt of the Japanese attack fell’.1 This imperial vision of the Pacific War, as a struggle fought by a united Commonwealth and Empire was to dominate much post-war consideration of Japan. This, rather than bilateral Anglo-Japanese considerations, characterized British policy in the first post-war years.