America dropped not one but two atomic bombs on Japan which entailed massive Japanese casualties. Additionally, in our low-altitude incendiary raids of Tokyo, wired.com stated: "Sixty-three percent of Tokyo’s commercial area, and 18 percent of its industry, was destroyed. An estimated 267,000 buildings burned to the ground." At the end of World War II, Japan, was a defeated and humbled nation, yet who would have predicted that by 1978, Japan as a nation, an island state of approximately 115 million peoples and with limited natural resources, would have become the second biggest economy in the world a status it maintained all the way up until 2010 when it was finally surpassed by China, a nation with a much greater land mass and a ten-fold quantity of peoples.
At the end of World War II, the United States effected several changes that were beneficial to Japan in the ensuing years. Women in Japan were granted universal suffrage, war reparations were first suspended and then forgiven, the Japanese military was dismantled and demilitarized, a favorable exchange rate between the yen and the dollar was established, favorable trade conditions were setup between Japan and the United States and most notably in the Korean war, massive exports were produced by Japan to help support that war effort.
Japan was also very successful in taking the technology that was previously developed during World War II for military ends and converting that knowhow and expertise into producing commercial goods that were successfully exported throughout the world, such as automobiles, steel, semiconductors, televisions and other hi-tech devices. During this time of transition, Japan moved from a society that had a large agricultural component to one that was dedicated to providing and exporting finished goods at competitive pricing throughout the world.
After the defeat of Japan in World War II, Japan was an occupied territory, in which General MacArthur was essentially in command of the American occupation. General MacArthur was successful in such a way that although the Americans ran a tight ship and had a firm hand within Japan it worked without any real protest from the Japanese. MacArthur also help established the Romanization system in which Japanese script characters were replaced with Roman script letters which consequently made the translation of Japanese words easier to comprehend and assimilate for Americans. In return, during the occupation, the Japanese were for the most part given free rein to develop their own version of democracy, to create free trade unions, and to implement land reform.
Japan could not be the country that it is today if it wasn't for their defeated peoples of World War II, willingly embracing the new system, the new rules, the new government, and devoting their energies and work-ethic to becoming successful for themselves and for their country. Rather than being resentful or even hateful to their occupiers, the Japanese went about their business which ultimately ended in them becoming the second largest economic giant in the world.
While we may take the Japanese success for granted, today, we shouldn't. Despite different cultures, different religions, different racial characteristics, different histories, the United States and Japan were successful together and this continues until the present day.