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

No. 3505

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 3380, November 1, 1938, and as another step in the direction of national solidarity and mobilization in Japan under the Government’s auspices, I have the honor to report that the movement, which began with attempts to form a new “national party”, toward the creation of a new national organization has reached a definite climax with the announcement by the Cabinet of an outline for a national organization embracing representation in every existing public organization in village, town, city and prefecture.

The present political parties had resisted strongly the attempts to form a new political party. They advanced the argument that such a party was entirely unnecessary because present parties were cooperating to the fullest extent with the Government. To make this fact even more obvious, leaders of the Seiyukai and the Minseito announced in October and actually launched about the middle of November a series of mass meetings throughout the country. These assemblies were for the purpose of explaining the parties’ recently established “National League for the Reconstruction of East Asia” and of bolstering the spiritual mobilization of the people to give greater support to Japan’s “immutable policy”. The first meeting on November 15, 1938, at the Hibiya Public hall in Tokyo was highly successful.

It was announced in the press on November 17 that Premier Konoe was to discuss with political leaders of the parties his plan for the “reorganization of the nation”. At the same time, the Asahi reported that Prince Konoe had said that this movement must be of a broader scope than merely that of a national party, that it is essential for the disposition of the China incident and the building of a new order in East Asia, and that he had ordered Count Arima, Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, and Mr. Akira Kazami, chief secretary of the Cabinet, to consult other members of the Cabinet and to prepare a [Page 610] draft plan of organization. Subsequent developments followed the usual pattern of negotiations within the Cabinet.

On November 24 the Kokumin newspaper reported that the movement was showing no progress owing in the first place to “an uncertainty concerning the reaction in financial circles and an inadequate appreciation of the movement within the Cabinet”, emphasis being placed on the “indifference” to the movement in financial circles. It was stated that Premier Konoe was determined to launch the program but that he would not act until a “concrete plan is ready”.

The next step was an announcement that the new program was to be an enlargement and reorganization of the Central League for Spiritual Mobilization which, it was said, has long been criticized for its inactivity and ineffectiveness.

On December 1 the Yomiuri published the outline of the organization of the new “National Council” (Kokumin Kyoji Kai). In this article the purpose is stated to be the “revitalizing of national solidarity and the promoting of a new order in East Asia by the uniting of every aspect of national power”. Every organized body in the nation is to join. Premier Konoe is to be president of the National Council, and Home Minister Suetsugu and Education Minister Araki, vice presidents. The presiding chairman has not been decided upon. A board of directors, with representatives from all influential organizations, is to be set up as the executive organ. This board is to be subdivided according to cities, villages, etc. The local governor, mayor or head man will be the chief of the subdivision in his own district. A central bureau is to be organized for administrative work under the Board of Directors. A board of trustees is to be established as a consultative, deliberative body and will have representatives from all participating organizations. In addition there are to be formed prefectural branches under the local Governor. The organization in Prefectures, cities, villages, etc. will be built up on the pattern of the central organization.

First reaction in the newspapers has been on the whole unfavorable. They criticize the frequent changes made by the Government in its spiritual mobilization plans, suggest that the possible relation of this new organization with the Imperial Diet may be unconstitutional, and add that the fact that it is not clear whether this movement is actually a national party in disguise or an expansion of the Central League for Spiritual Mobilization lends to confusion and thereby defeats the purpose in view. The Nichi Nichi states that the movement is still dominated by the “spirit of the old organization” which failed.

An article appearing in the Japan Advertiser outlining the projected plan is enclosed.22

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There is but one comment which can, and needs to be, made at this time. It is apparent that the Prime Minister favors in principle the establishment of a national party such as the Fascist Party in Italy, or the National Socialist Party in Germany, but that he feels that the nation is not as yet ready. It is clear that this national reorganization movement is intended first to integrate the people politically, and that when that objective shall have been accomplished there is to be a conversion of the organization so formed into a national party.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Not reprinted.