894.00/775: Telegram

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

149. Our 105, February 14, 6 p.m.

Considerable friction has recently developed between the Government and the political parties. Meetings of the Lower House of the Diet and of committees have frequently been marked by disorders and by violent denunciation of the Government on the charge of attempting to circumscribe personal liberties and private initiative.
There have been a series of incidents recently tending to support that charge. A fortnight ago the offices of the political parties were forcibly occupied by members of an anti-communist association which has been demanding the dissolution of the parties and the police failed to afford adequate protection. The leader of the Social Mass Party was physically assaulted a few days ago, presumably by a reactionary. An army officer appearing before a committee of the Lower House to explain the National Mobilization Act improperly harangued the committee and when interrupted ordered a member to “shut up”. These and other incidents along with legislation drafted by the Government pointing toward restriction of private initiative and personal liberties have created widespread suspicion that an element within the Government, headed by Home Minister Suetsugu and covertly encouraged by the Prime Minister, is aiming at bringing about changes along totalitarian lines in the political and social structure of the country.
Although the criticism by the political parties of the Home Minister is vehement some of it is theatrical and done for effect. His resignation is being demanded but it remains to be seen whether the Prime Minister who is tied to Suetsugu by obligations of personal friendship will agree to sacrifice him. I am reluctant to make forecasts on Japanese political developments but it seems that the indications are strong that the political parties will not at this time, when the nation is involved in hostilities with China and is externally in a grave position, press the Government to a point where a political crisis of the first magnitude would develop. On the other hand I expect that the Government will make to the parties some gesture of appeasement.

Repeated to Shanghai for Hankow.