The American Occupation of Japan - Confiscation


The General Headquarters (GHQ), the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) directed the Government of Japan to collect books those were identified as propaganda publications from warehouses, bookstores, book dealers, publishing companies, distribution companies, and all commercial establishments, as well as various Japanese governmental offices, etc. During the occupation of Japan by GHQ, 7,769 titles were confiscated in total from these places.


The GHQ delivered a memorandum entitled “Confiscation of Propaganda Publications” to the Government of Japan on March 17, 1946. The memorandum includes the following sentence.

The Japanese Government is directed to collect from all public channels, including warehouse, book shops, book dealers, publishing companies, distributing agents and all commercial establishments, or agencies of the Japanese government where these publications are held in bulk, the following listed propaganda publications:

The memorandum listed 10 book titles. The GHQ continued adding book titles that were identified as propaganda publications in subsequent memorandums, and the number of such book titles reached 7,769 by March 15, 1948. Although the majority of the banned publications were related to the war propaganda, many publications that were not related to the war were identified as the propaganda publications.

In the beginning stage of the confiscation, the Japanese police directly confiscated those publications, but the task of the confiscation was transferred to the Social Education Bureau of the Ministry of Education in June 1948.

Although individual copies in private home or libraries were exempted from the confiscation, these publications were disappeared from many libraries in Japan, probably because of voluntary restrains by leftwing people.

The confiscation was so sophisticated that most Japanese people did not know that the authority carried out the book banning in the period of the occupation.

In 1982, the complete list for publications designated by GHQ for confiscation was published. Recently, these confiscated publications were called as GHQ’s Burned Books in Japan. Since those books privately owned by individual persons were not confiscated, some the books are introduced in the Internet.

Why this fact affects the rightward trend?

The leftwing praises the post war regime for its democratic system. They insist that press was censored before and during the war while freedom of press was introduced after the war. However, the fact that more than 7,000 different books were banned by GHQ during its occupation of Japan shows that the new regime had not necessarily been formulated based on democratic conditions. Instead, Japanese people were indoctrinated through the suppression of the freedom of the press.

The list confiscated books indicates that what kind of information USA wanted to conceal. The confiscation was carried out not only for propaganda publication but also for the publications those were inconvenient for USA and its alliance.

For example, books about European colonialism, the history of Australia, discrimination against Black people in USA, and the history of wars by European countries are included in the list.

Recently, the fact of the confiscation has become a popular theme in the Internet and people learn what kind of books had been read before and during the war and what kind of information was inconvenient for USA.