Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hawkish policies, historical revisionism, and heavy-handed efforts to manipulate domestic and foreign media have infuriated critics in Japan and its neighborhood. They might want to reserve some of that anger for U.S. super-diplomat George F. Kennan.

During the early years of the U.S. postwar occupation, an ungainly mix of idealistic New Deal reformers and right-wing satraps of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, launched a radical attempt to liberalize Japan’s economy and society — prosecuting war criminals, busting up industrial combines, imposing land reforms and nurturing a labor movement, among other changes.

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