3 May 1947

The new post-war Japanese constitution goes into effect.

On May 3, 1947, Japan’s postwar constitution goes into effect. The progressive constitution granted universal suffrage, stripped Emperor Hirohito of all but symbolic power, stipulated a bill of rights, abolished peerage, and outlawed Japan’s right to make war. The document was largely the work of Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur and his occupation staff, who had prepared the draft in February 1946 after a Japanese attempt was deemed unacceptable.

As the defender of the Philippines from 1941 to 1942, and commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific theater from 1942 to 1945, Douglas MacArthur was the most acclaimed American general in the war against Japan. On September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, he presided over the official surrender of Japan. According to the terms of surrender, Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese government were subject to the authority of the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers in occupied Japan, a post filled by General MacArthur.

On September 8, Supreme Commander MacArthur made his way by automobile through the ruins of Tokyo to the American embassy, which would be his home for the next five and a half years. The occupation was to be a nominally Allied enterprise, but increasing Cold War division left Japan firmly in the American sphere of influence. From his General Headquarters, which overlooked the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, MacArthur presided over an extremely productive reconstruction of Japanese government, industry, and society along American models. MacArthur was a gifted administrator, and his progressive reforms were for the most part welcomed by the Japanese people.

The most important reform carried out by the American occupation was the establishment of a new constitution to replace the 1889 Meiji Constitution. In early 1946, the Japanese government submitted a draft for a new constitution to the General Headquarters, but it was rejected for being too conservative. MacArthur ordered his young staff to draft their own version in one week. The document, submitted to the Japanese government on February 13, 1946, protected the civil liberties MacArthur had introduced and preserved the emperor, though he was stripped of power. Article 9 forbade the Japanese ever to wage war again.

Before Japan’s defeat, Emperor Hirohito was officially regarded as Japan’s absolute ruler and a quasi-divine figure. Although his authority was sharply limited in practice, he was consulted with by the Japanese government and approved of its expansionist policies from 1931 through World War II. Hirohito feared, with good reason, that he might be indicted as a war criminal and the Japanese imperial house abolished. MacArthur’s constitution at least preserved the emperor as the “symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” so Hirohito offered his support. Many conservatives in the government were less enthusiastic, but on April 10, 1946, the new constitution was endorsed in popular elections that allowed Japanese women to vote for the first time. The final draft, slightly revised by the Japanese government, was made public one week later. On November 3, it was promulgated by the Diet–the Japanese parliament–and on May 3, 1947, it came into force.

In 1948, Yoshida Shigeru’s election as prime minister ushered in the Yoshida era, marked by political stability and rapid economic growth in Japan. In 1949, MacArthur gave up much of his authority to the Japanese government, and in September 1951 the United States and 48 other nations signed a formal peace treaty with Japan. On April 28, 1952, the treaty went into effect, and Japan assumed full sovereignty as the Allied occupation came to an end.

6 February 1947

Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.

The intercontinental airline service made its debut in 1927. The flight, by Imperial Airways, was from London to Cairo.

In 1930 Charles Townsend Ludington, his brother and two other executives formed Ludington Airline, the first every-hour-on-the-hour air service. It was also the first airline that carried passengers only and was not supported by government revenue from air mail service contracts that all other airlines depended on.

Air India, the flag carrier airline of India, began operations under the name Tata Airlines on October 15, 1932.

Pan American Clipper flights served the first hot meals to passengers in 1935.

The first commercial flight across the Pacific was made by a Pan-American Boeing 314 on April 28, 1937.

The first commercial around-the-world airline flight took place in 1942. Pan American World Airways was the company credited with the historic feat.
Seven years later, on January 6, 1947, Pan American Airlines became the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.

15 September 1947

Typhoon Kathleen hit the Kanto Region in Japan killing 1,077.

On September 15, 1947, Typhoon Kathleen made landfall in the Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Tokyo. One-minute sustained winds at landfall were estimated at 120 km/h—just barely equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. In Shizuoka Prefecture, south of Kanagawa, one-minute sustained winds exceeding 88 km/h tropical storm strength were reported. Having weakened by the time of landfall, wind damage was restricted to towns along the immediate coast.

More extensive, however, was the damage from precipitation-induced flooding from Typhoon Kathleen, which dropped between 300 and 800 mm of rain in the Tone River basin in just two days from September 13 to 15—yielding the highest flood discharge ever observed. North and east of Tokyo, several dikes were breached and embankments suffered failures, resulting in severe flooding along the Tone River, particularly in Kurihashi. More than 303,000 buildings were inundated, and 1,077 people were killed.

6 April 1947

The first Tony Awards are given for theatrical achievement.

The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards® got their start in 1947 when the Wing established an awards program to celebrate excellence in the theatre.

Named for Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing who had recently passed away, the Tony Awards made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947. Vera Allen, Perry’s successor as chairwoman of the Wing, presided over an evening that included dining, dancing, and a program of entertainment. The dress code was black tie optional, and the performers who took to the stage included Mickey Rooney, Herb Shriner, Ethel Waters, and David Wayne. Eleven Tonys were presented in seven categories, and there were eight special awards, including one for Vincent Sardi, proprietor of the eponymous eatery on West 44th Street. Big winners that night included José Ferrer, Arthur Miller, Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal, Elia Kazan and Agnes de Mille.

During the first two years of the Tonys (1947 and 1948), there was no official Tony Award. The winners were presented with a scroll and, in addition, such mementos as a gold money clip (for the men) and a compact (for the women).

In 1949 the designers’ union, United Scenic Artists, sponsored a contest for a suitable model for the award. The winning entry, a disk-shaped medallion designed by Herman Rosse, depicted the masks of comedy and tragedy on one side and the profile of Antoinette Perry on the other. The medallion was initiated that year at the third annual dinner. It continues to be the official Tony Award.

Since 1968 the medallion has been mounted on a black pedestal with a curved armature. After the ceremony, each award is numbered for tracking purposes and engraved with the winner’s name.

10 June 1947

Saab produces its first car.

Saab Automobile was a manufacturer of automobiles that was founded in Sweden in 1945 when its parent company, began a project to design a small automobile. The first production model, the Saab 92, was launched in 1949. In 1968 the parent company merged with Scania-Vabis, and ten years later the Saab 900 was launched, in time becoming Saab’s best-selling model. In the mid-1980s the new Saab 9000 model also appeared.

In 1989, the automobile division of Saab-Scania was restructured into an independent company, Saab Automobile AB. The American manufacturer General Motors took 50% ownership with an investment of US$600 million, and then in 2000, exercised its option to acquire the remaining 50% for a further US$125 million; so turning Saab Automobile into a wholly owned GM subsidiary. In 2010 GM sold Saab Automobile AB to the Dutch automobile manufacturer Spyker Cars N.V.

After struggling to avoid insolvency throughout 2011, the company petitioned for bankruptcy following the failure of a Chinese consortium to complete a purchase of the company; the purchase had been blocked by the former owner GM, which opposed the transfer of technology and production rights to a Chinese company. On 13 June 2012, it was announced that a newly formed company called National Electric Vehicle Sweden had bought Saab Automobile’s bankrupt estate. According to “Saab United”, the first NEVS Saab 9-3 drove off its pre-production line on 19 September 2013. Full production restarted on 2 December 2013, initially the same gasoline-powered 9-3 Aero sedans that were built before Saab went bankrupt, and intended to get the automaker’s supply chain reestablished as it attempted development of a new line of NEVS-Saab products.[8][9] NEVS lost its license to manufacture automobiles under the Saab name in the summer of 2014 and now plans to produce electric cars based on the 9-3 under its own brand name.

6 November 1947

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Meet the Press makes its debut on television.

Meet the Press is a weekly American television news/interview program that is broadcast on NBC. It is the longest-running program in American television history, though its current format bears little resemblance to the one it debuted with on November 6, 1947. Like similar shows that have followed it, Meet the Press specializes in interviews with national leaders on issues of politics, economics, foreign policy and other public affairs, along with panel discussions that provide opinions and analysis. The longevity of Meet the Press is illustrated when one considers that the program debuted during what was only the second official “network television season” for American television. One historical landmark of the program is that it was the first on which a sitting U.S. president, Gerald Ford, appeared on a live television network news program, which occurred on the November 9, 1975, broadcast.