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MacArthur famously uttered the words, "Japan is a nation of twelve year olds". Why?

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When and where did he utter the quote? What was the context? Is this something documented, or something you've hear? –  Mark C. Wallace Feb 17 at 12:57
    
He said it during his Congressional hearing on his dismissal as Commander of US Forces in Korea in 1951. The hearings are supposed to be about his conduct in Korea, but they went on for 7 weeks. Since McCarthur was in charge of the occupation of Japan and the hearings were very politicized, I infer the Senate just got off topics. –  Razie Mah Feb 18 at 2:21
    
Edit: McCarthur's title was Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General United States Army, Far East. (Partially why this was big deal!) –  Razie Mah Feb 18 at 2:39

1 Answer 1

The full quote is actually: "Measured by the standards of modern civilization, [Japan] would be like a boy of twelve as compared with [the Anglo-Saxon] development of 45 years,”

In the 1800's and early 1900's, Japan placed great emphasis on Westernizing. They brought American and Western military leaders to Japan to modernize their army. In many respects, Japan had become very modern and "Western" by WWII, but it was still a feudal society with an emperor, as well, with many conservative, traditional customs. Read more about the reasons for these historical developments in Japan.

McCarthur is expressing his view that Japan was still "backwards," but on its way towards becoming, in his view, a "civilized" nation.

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