MacArthur’s first priority was to set up a food distribution network; following the collapse of the ruling government and the wholesale destruction of most major cities, virtually everyone was starving. Even with these measures, millions of people were still on the brink of starvation for several years after the surrender. As expressed by Kawai Kazuo, “Democracy cannot be taught to a starving people”. The US government encouraged democratic reform in Japan, and while it sent billions of dollars in food aid, this was dwarfed by the occupation costs it imposed on the struggling Japanese administration.
Initially, the US government provided emergency food relief through Government and Relief in Occupied Areas (GARIOA) funds. In fiscal year 1946, this aid amounted to US $92 million in loans. From April 1946, in the guise Licensed Agencies for Relief, private relief organizations were also permitted to provide relief.
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