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The document set two main objectives for the occupation: (1) eliminating Japan's war potential and (2) turning Japan into a democratic-style nation with pro-United Nations orientation.

Allied (primarily American) forces were set up to supervise the country, and "for eighty months following its surrender in 1945, Japan was at the mercy of an army of occupation, its people subject to foreign military control." At the head of the Occupation administration was General Mac Arthur, who was technically supposed to defer to an advisory council set up by the Allied powers, but in practice did not and did everything himself.

On August 28, 1945, 150 US personnel flew to Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture.

They were followed by USS Missouri, whose accompanying vessels landed the 4th Marine Division on the southern coast of Kanagawa. Mac Arthur arrived in Tokyo on August 30, and immediately decreed several laws.

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Unlike in the occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union was allowed little to no influence over Japan.

According to John Dower, in his book Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq, the factors behind the success of the occupation were: Discipline, moral legitimacy, well-defined and well-articulated objectives, a clear chain of command, tolerance and flexibility in policy formulation and implementation, confidence in the ability of the state to act constructively, the ability to operate abroad free of partisan politics back home, and the existence of a stable, resilient, sophisticated civil society on the receiving end of occupation policies – these political and civic virtues helped make it possible to move decisively during the brief window of a few years when defeated Japan itself was in flux and most receptive to radical change.

Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 14, 1945, when the Japanese government notified the Allies that it had accepted the Potsdam Declaration.

No Allied personnel were to assault Japanese people.

No Allied personnel were to eat the scarce Japanese food.

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