An American Jew Who Created a New Japan

Charles Louis Kades is known for his role in drafting the Japanese Constitution post-World War II. He served as the chief and deputy chief of the Government Section of General Headquarters (GHQ). This was during the Second World War. He played an important role in creating the draft of the Japanese constitution by GHQ. The Japanese constitution had a profound affect on the country’s direction after the war.

Early years

Kades was born in the Newburgh city of New York State on the 12th of March 1906. He graduated from Cornell University and Harvard Law School. Later, he began working at the law firm of Hawkins, Delafield, and Wood in Manhattan. He was a municipal bond lawyer at this law firm.

Kades helped in the implementation of New Deal policies. He served as the Assistant General Counsel for Public Works Administration and the treasury department of the United States. During his long career, Kades handled several complex issues. During his private practice in New York, he specialized in matters related to taxation, bonds, banking, corporate, and estate.

He had also advised Governor Hugh L. Carey on Municipal Assistance Corporation’s creation and operation. The Municipal Assistance Corporation was instrumental in supervising New York City’s recovery from financial crisis.

Supervising Japan’s transformation

Nothing compares to the contribution that he made in the transition of Japan’s monarchy into a modern democracy. The impact of this was more than the cases he worked on and the deals that he made. After the Second World War, the Japanese Government was under tremendous pressure from the Allies.

They began revising the Meiji Constitution in late 1945. The details of the work from the drafting committee was leaked out in 1946. There was an immediate outcry upon seeing that it was just a slight rework of the old constitution. The Supreme Allied Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, had to intervene in order to set things right.

According to his order, his Government Section staff comprising 24 members would draft a constitution. Before arriving in Japan, Kades was a part of the general staff of the War Department. He participated in the invasion of France in 1944. He arrived in Japan a week before the country’s formal surrender. Later, he was in charge of a steering committee for drafting the new constitution of Japan.

In order to accomplish this mission, he worked day and night and even resolved many debates. The document that he came up with stripped the Japanese Emperor of his authority. Additionally, it established an elected government and guaranteed various civil rights. They included full equality for women.

Adoption of the new constitution

Kades presided over the negotiations with the Japanese authorities. This ultimately led to the adoption of the draft, which was prepared by America. In the draft, Kades composed a part on renunciation of war with the help of the notes of MacArthur. The new constitution came into effect on the 3rd of May, 1947.

It was highly effective in laying the foundation for the re-emergence of Japan as an economic power. Kades became immensely popular in Japan and was decorated by the United States army. In 1976, he retired from his law practice in New York. He was 90 years of age at the time of his death in 1996.

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