I encountered (for me) the rare use of this expression in the title of a book: "Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan"

There's an article in Wikipedia with a 'post-' prefacing it, that sounds right: Post-occupation Japan If there's a 'post-occupation Japan' there must be an 'occupation Japan' as well, right?

Is "Occupation Japan" idiomatic? Instead of "occupation of Japan", "occupied Japan" or "occupation-era Japan". Would "occupation Germany" also be alright? Were these OK, but have fallen in disuse?

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    ... the high rate of syphilis and gonorrhea during the first two years of the occupation. This fact of occupation life had led to continual MP raids of the brothels frequented by GI’s. The result of these raids is a vast expanse of statistics that bear out the terrible rampage of venereal disease in early occupation Germany. From a PhD dissertation at Ohio State University in 2003 Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 19:29
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    It's not idiomatic to my Canadian ear, but the intent is clear, and it doesn't sound wrong. In academia, it may be normal though. To me, "occupied Japan" is idiomatic.
    – gotube
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 2:01
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    It's certainly not idiomatic today -- as Jeffreys answer illustrates it's a usage that has fallen out of favor for 'occupied ______'
    – eps
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 7:04
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    @MichaelHarvey Notice that your example has a modifier ("early"), similar to "post-" in the OP's quote.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 14:30
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    As to post-occupation Japan, I really can't think of another way of describing the years after the Americans went home; it really was a post-occupation period. The post is a modifier to occupation, not to occupation Japan
    – Flydog57
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 16:17

5 Answers 5


I have just searched academic articles indexed by EBSCO, a database used by scholars. I find 248 references to Occupation Japan. Here are three titles that come up in the first page of matches:

The Police in Occupation Japan
Literacy and script reform in occupation Japan
Imaging Hope and Despair in Occupation Japan:

So the phrase is apparently common in the academic world. I notice, however, that most of these works were written in the 20th century.

In contrast, the phrase Occupied Japan yields 867 matches. Titles include the following:

Streetwalking in Occupied Japan
Nuclear Fear, the Red Scare, and Science Policy in Occupied Japan
California, Diplomacy, and Occupied Japan

Furthermore, most of these works were written in the 21st century. So both phrases have been common in academic writing, with Occupied Japan being used 3-4 times more frequently overall and more commonly in recent years.

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    Having spent my school-age years (and then some) in the last quarter of the 20th century, I'd venture that Occupation ___ was already out of use by the 70s, at least, probably 60s if you consider the publication dates of some of the text books I used early on. When in the 20th Century were those 248 references published? Y2K certainly isn't the demarcation point.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 16:46
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    @FreeMan, actually, a lot were circa 1997 or so. Journal article databases get spotty before the 90s. Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 18:29
  • Interesting. I would not have expected that.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 19:14
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    Worth pointing out that phrases like "pre-occupation Japan" and "post-occupation Japan" would still be used. It's just the plain "occupation Japan" that now sounds odd to my ears.
    – Muzer
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 9:57
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    So to conclude, it appears to be a phrase that has historical use, but should be avoided in new writing, as linguistic preferences have changed over time. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 20:03

"Occupied Japan" seems more likely, for example there is a book Beneath the Eagle's Wings: Americans in Occupied Japan or a paper Occupied Japan: Embracing Defeat or Surviving the Americans?

I can't find use of "Occupation Japan" (it appears in phrases such as "During the occupation, Japan was ...") I don't think "Occupation Japan" is idiomatic. And likewise I'd use "Occupied Germany" in preference to "Occupation Germany".


Yes, this is idiomatic in the sense of 'Japan at the time of its occupation'. Similar expressions are 'Renaissance Italy', 'Tudor England', 'Pre-Civil War America'.

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    Restoration England? Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 21:56
  • There's a subtle difference in my mind between "at the time of its occupation" and "at the time of The Occupation". In other words, I would find "occupation Japan" with a lower-case "o" odd; but "Occupation Japan" would put me in mind of the other examples you give, where "The Occupation" is a kind of proper noun referring to a specific time period.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 14:21
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    I sort of disagree with this. ‘Renaissance’ and ‘pre–Civil War’ are unambiguously periods of time, whereas ‘occupation’ is primarily an act and only secondarily refers to a time frame (‘Tudor’ is different in that it doesn’t use time as the framing). It’s understandable, but it’s not idiomatic to me, though ‘occupation-era Japan’ is. Similar with ‘invasion[-era] Ukraine’, ‘Revolution[-era] Russia’, etc.: used absolutely, these nouns do not result in idiomatic constructions; they need something extra to become adjectival enough to really work. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 10:07
  • Sorry, Kate… those are only grammatically similar unless you can explain how "'Renaissance" or "Tudor" or "Pre-Civil War" idiomatically equate to "Occupation". For comparison, how often have you heard "Occupation…" as opposed to "Occupied…" France or Europe? "Japan at the time of its occupation" might by itself be fine, were it not an obvious construct, but how could that justify "Occupation Japan"? I think you're trying to justify cheese with chalk; apples with oranges. Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 23:58
  • @RobbieGoodwin - 'Japan at the time of its occupation by the Allies' seemed to me to equate with 'Europe at the time of the Reformation/Renaissance' and (as Michael suggested) 'England at the time of the Restoration of the Monarchy'. Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 7:25

You already have good answers addressing your main question, so I'll just tackle this aside:

If there's a 'post-occupation Japan' there must be an 'occupation Japan' as well, right?

The construction "post-<noun>" functions more like an adjective or prepositional phrase than a noun. For example, we can obviously say "the occupation was […]", but we don't say *"the post-occupation was […]". (Actually there are two relevant-seeming Google hits for the latter, but it's rare to the point of being negligible.) So the acceptability of "post-occupation Japan" says little about the acceptability of "occupation Japan", just as the acceptability of "occupational hazard" says little about the acceptability of "occupation hazard".

So it's perfectly consistent that "occupation Japan" seems to be controversial (judging from the other answers) even though I don't think anyone would bat an eye at "post-occupation Japan".

Likewise for "pre-<noun>", "mid-<noun>", and "inter-<noun>".


"Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan" is at best not idiomatic English. What else might matter?

Whether or not it's a published title, what you Posted isn't incapable of being understood but "(anything) in Occupation Japan" at best fails to be a synonym for "Occupied Japan" or "Japan during the occupation."

Is it not obvious that "Literacy and Script Reform (anywhere or when)" will refer to something more obscure rather than anything generally understood?

How could (for you) the rare use of any expression matter? Would you rather drop that or show both where and how you came across it, and then how it might matter?

Is it not clear that there being a "post-occupation Japan" is at best a flimsy hook on which to hang there being an "occupation Japan", right?

"Occupation Japan" is not idiomatic; less so if compared to "occupation of Japan".

Either way, "occupied Japan" or "occupation-era Japan" are not comparable; neither is "occupation Germany"?

Were those OK, they might have fallen into disuse and was that what you meant, or exactly what?

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    Only the first sentence here seems to even attempt an answer at the question, and it basically just says "no" without any detail or supporting references. The start of the second paragraph is possibly trying to add detail, but even as a native English speaker I'm struggling to understand it, so it's not going to be useful for someone trying to learn the language ("isn't incapable"? "at best fails"?). The rest of the post appears to consist of questions to the author, which isn't what should go in the Answer box on this site, which is very explicitly not a forum.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 9:24
  • @IMSoP Sorry and only if you don't believe what was said, could your objections matter. If you didn't get it, then by definition my Post wasn't clear enough and let's be certain that here, that means clear enough "for you." Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 20:23
  • Well, given that 2 people have upvoted my comment, 4 (plus me) have downvoted your answer, and none have upvoted it or given any other comment, it would seem I am not alone in not understanding how this answers the question. "Believing what was said" has nothing to do with it; I am not questioning the truth of what you wrote, I am questioning whether it belongs in the Answer section of a Question and Answer site.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 20:27
  • @IMSoP Thanks for explaining that, which wasn't clear. What do you object to in "Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan" is at best not idiomatic English. What else might matter? What do you object to in 'what you Posted isn't incapable of being understood but "(anything) in Occupation Japan" at best fails to be a synonym for "Occupied Japan" or "Japan during the occupation" '? If to you queries to Authors don't belong in Answers, why are you following this or any forum? Is it more more polite to say "You're wrong!" or "Could it be otherwise?" Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 20:49
  • As I said in my first comment, this site is explicitly not a forum, as the tour presented to all new users makes clear. The idea is that somebody asks a question, other people attempt to answer it, and that's all that happens. In this case, somebody asked a question, and you rambled on about why the answer doesn't matter anyway, and asked lots of largely rhetorical questions of your own.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 21:35

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