- March 18, 1980
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This collection is open to the public.
Biographical / Historical
William Kenneth Bunce (August 31,1907 – July 23, 2008) was interviewed by Marlene Mayo, then Professor of History at the University of Maryland, on March 18, 1980. He was the individual primarily responsible for the formulation of the Shinto Directive, which was issued by the Japanese government in December 1945. According to Bunce, his experience teaching in a Japanese high school from 1936 to 1939, informed his work as Chief of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division during the Occupation. He saw first-hand how, "...Japanese emperor worship was inculcated into students in the Japanese education system and the degree of reverence extended to the Emperor and to all things pertaining to the Emperor, most notably the Imperial Rescript on Education and the Emperor's portrait, formed a reasonably good background for my approach to these problems when I served in the Occupation." (p.3 of the transcript) He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in Navy in 1943 and for nine months studied at the Navy School of Military Government at Columbia University. He met Gordon Prange there. He arrived in Japan in mid-September 1945 and was assigned to the Civil Information and Education Section/Education, Religion, and Arts & Monuments Division.. During the occupation, Bunce worked as Chief of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division under the Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan. His work involved demilitarizing Japan’s cultural, religious, social, and academic institutions. In 1945, Bunce wrote the Shinto directive that reformed Japan’s state and no longer held Shinto as the state religion. After his work during the occupation, Bunce worked for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, eventually returning to the U.S. while remaining in government positions until he retired in 1971. Bunce passed away in Maryland in 2008.