The Treaty of San Francisco

The Treaty of San Francisco, also called the Treaty of Peace with Japan, re-established peaceful relations between Japan and the Allied Powers on behalf of the United Nations to officially end hostilities and to seek redress for actions up to and including World War II. It was officially signed by 49 nations on September 8, 1951, in San Francisco, California, U.S. at the War Memorial Opera House, with three member states refusing to sign: The Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia, all part of the Soviet Bloc, and a further two states refused to send representatives: India and Yugoslavia. Italy was not invited and Korea was not invited due to disagreements on whether South Korea or North Korea represented the Korean people.

It came into force on April 28, 1952, and officially ended the American-led Allied occupation of Japan. According to Article 11 of the treaty, Japan accepts the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and of other Allied War Crimes Courts imposed on Japan both within and outside Japan.

This treaty served to officially end Japan’s position as an imperial power, to allocate compensation to Allied and other civilians and former prisoners of war who had suffered Japanese war crimes during World War II, and to end the Allied post-war occupation of Japan and return full sovereignty to that nation. This treaty made extensive use of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enunciate the Allies’ goals.

This treaty, along with the Security Treaty signed that same day, is said to mark the beginning of the San Francisco System; this term, coined by historian John W. Dower, signifies the effects of Japan’s relationship with the United States and its role in the international arena as determined by these two treaties and is used to discuss the ways in which these effects have governed Japan’s post-war history.

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