894.00/676: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

13. 1. Owing to the strong opposition to the Cabinet displayed in the Diet and especially to the conflict between the army and the political parties culminating yesterday in battle of words between Hamada of the Seiyukai and Terauchi, Minister for War, the Diet was last night prorogued for 2 days in order to give the Government an opportunity to deal with the situation. It does not appear possible that the political parties will yield to or cooperate with the Cabinet and consequently the only courses of action left to the Cabinet are to resign or to dissolve the lower house of the Diet upon its reconvening and to call for a general election. The army is reported to be pressing for dissolution and the Asahi this afternoon reported that the Cabinet this morning decided upon this course and is now awaiting some move by the political parties.

2. The opposition of the political parties to the army and its policies appears to be the principal cause of the present conflict between the Diet and the Cabinet. In a release at midnight immediately following the proroguing of the Diet the War Office took up the issue in a spirited political statement the tenor of which is that the political parties, although crying for reform, are not alive to the reform needs which have been evident since the incident of February 26, 19362 and that it is imperative that the people unite at the present time in a positive nationalistic policy of which the political parties are incapable. The army reiterates the necessity of parliamentary reform, clarification of the national policy, national defense and stabilization of the peoples’ livelihood and again emphasizes “the present international crisis”.

3. It appears to the Embassy that the decision of the Hirota3 Cabinet to dissolve the House of Representatives is a threat for use [Page 704] against the political parties in negotiations today and tomorrow. Hirota probably hopes that the parties will prefer his Government to a general election. The army seems confident that a general election would show that recent opposition to the Government emanates from the political parties and not from the people. In the opinion of the Embassy that opposition is widespread but on the other hand the party unity necessary to take advantage of the opportunity is not yet evident. A newly elected House without absolute majority in any one party would probably leave the formation of the Cabinet largely within the control of the military without much fundamental change from the present.

4. Effort at further interpretation would be premature at the present time.

  1. See ibid., pp. 719781, passim.
  2. Koki Hirota, Japanese Prime Minister.