Meiji Mutual Life Insurance Co. Building, Marunouchi, c. 1946.

1940sArchitectureHistoric DistrictNotable LandmarkOccupation Era
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Meiji Insurance Co. building, c. 1946

Front exterior of the Meiji Insurance Co. building, c. 1946, during the time it served as the headquarters for the Allied Council of Japan during the Occupation of Japan (1945-1952).

See also:
Dai Ichi Semei Sogo Building, Marunouchi, c. 1946

“MacArthur had another great advantage which the Allies in Europe lacked. Soviet attempts to sabotage the Occupation continued to be thwarted at every turn. In Washington an Allied Far Eastern Commission ‘settled down,’ in Reischauer’s words, ‘to a genteel position of pompous futility,’ while the Allied Council in Tokyo first became an arena for ‘acrimonious argument’ and then ‘lapsed into a moribund state.’

“The Council, which met in a paneled second-floor boardroom of the Meiji Insurance Building, just down the street from [SCAP headquarters at] the Dai Ichi [Sogo building], had been assigned a vague ‘advisory’ role. MacArthur attended only one of its first meetings. ‘As the functions of the Council will be … consultative,’ he said pointedly, ‘it will not divide the heavy administrative responsibility of the Supreme Commander as the sole executive authority for the Allied Powers in Japan.’ Thereafter, he let it adrift.”

American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 – 1964, by William Manchester, 1978

Construction of the stately and statuesque Meiji Insurance Co. building began in 1930 and was finally completed in 1934, delayed by the untimely death of the building’s architect, Shinichiro Okada, a professor of architecture at Tokyo Imperial University. The building was requisitioned during the Occupation (1945-1952) for use by the Allied Council for Japan. In 1997, it became Japan’s first building to be registered as a Tangible Cultural Asset as an example of Showa-era architecture.

“Convening in the Meiji Insurance Building in downtown Tokyo, the [Alllied Council of Japan] held a total of 164 sessions between April 1946 and April 1952. Many of the meetings, however, were adjourned within minutes for lack of agenda, and a full 47 of the 53 that US delegate William J. Sebald attended between 1948 and 1949 ended as soon as they began. Like the Far Eastern Commission, the Council found itself dealing with questions that had become non-issues by the time they were brought to its attention.”

Inside GHQ: Allied Occupation of Japan, by Eiji Takemae, 2003

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  1. Pingback: Takashimaya Department Store, c. 1940. | Old Tokyo

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