The Chargé in Japan (Neville) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 26—10 a.m.]
14. Department’s 8, February 25, 10 a.m. The Prime Minister has been in attendance at the Diet today and I have been unable to see him personally. The Vice Minister told me on his behalf that the Government was experiencing a good deal of difficulty with the multilateral treaty because of the phraseology “in the name of the people”. This matter has been and is now the subject of interpellation in the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister feels that he could not possibly present the treaty to the Privy Council while its terms were the subject of political discussions in the Diet.
The Prime Minister told me some time ago that the phraseology was the subject of a good deal of question. He said that he had hoped to get the treaty through without any political discussion and he has assured me several times since the Japanese Government adhered to the pact last summer that the substance of the treaty would cause no difficulty whatever. Mr. Yoshida reiterated this statement today.
The Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs told me that he had had a long discussion and that the Prime Minister had had several discussions with political leaders in both branches of the Diet explaining that the treaty had no domestic significance and that the phrase “in the name of the people” was not an acceptance by Japanese Government of the theory that the Emperor is the agent and not the sovereign of Japan. He said that the Government was hopeful of avoiding any resolutions on the subject of the treaty by either branch of the Diet but until the possibility of this occurring had been eliminated the Prime Minister would not be able to ask its consideration by the Privy Council. He added that while the Japanese Government did not make the request at the moment it might become necessary to ask the American Government’s permission to use the correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Japanese Chargé.7
I am completely satisfied that the Government is prepared to do all that it can to obtain speedy ratification. The political position of the present Government, however, while not precarious, is by no means an easy one, as it is faced with severe opposition to some of its tax proposals in the House of Peers. The political temper of the Diet at the moment is such that almost any pretext may be seized upon to make trouble for the administration. An attempt on the part of the [Page 240] Prime Minister to obtain ratification of this treaty while the Diet is discussing it would arouse antagonism both in the Diet and in the Privy Council.
I shall take early occasion to discuss this matter further with Baron Tanaka.
- Exchanged prior to the signature of the treaty. See memorandum of June 23, 1928, by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs and telegrams of July 6 and 20, 1928, to and from the Chargé in Japan, ibid., 1928, vol. i, pp. 96, 103, 123.↩