894.00/884: Telegram

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

713. 1. It is still too early to estimate accurately the full significance of the action of 250 members of the Diet in signing and presenting yesterday to the Prime Minister a resolution calling on him to resign.15 The step, however, is definitely a reflection of the growing popular discontent against the increasing governmental control over all aspects of national activity which is resulting in irksome restrictions without bringing perceptibly nearer an end to the basic cause for such control, namely, the China conflict. Measures thus far taken to prevent rises in the prices of daily necessities and to avert inflation, formulated for the most part by government officials lacking in practical experience, have not been effective, and we feel that this recent move on the part of members of the Diet is a strong reflection of the feeling of insecurity among the masses which has been growing during the past few weeks. It is in a sense a revolt against the policy of drift which has characterized each of the Cabinets since the conflict began, the present Cabinet more strongly than its two immediate predecessors.

2. Well-informed Japanese, one of them a Cabinet councilor, in conversation with us today, were unanimously of the opinion that the Cabinet’s days are numbered. Some thought that a change of government will take place during the new year recess which lasts until January 20, while others believe that the chances are good of the Cabinet lasting out the Diet session, which is to conclude toward the [Page 455] end of March. It is rare for a Cabinet to resign while the Diet is sitting, and it would be reasonable to assume that if there is not a change of government during the present recess such change is not expected to occur until the end of the session.

3. We hear that supporters of Admiral Osumi and General Ugaki respectively are already active, but there are at present no signs of a general call for either of these two to head the next Cabinet. The search in the popular mind is for someone who, first, is able to secure the support of all political elements and, second, has sufficient courage and determination to take the drastic and positive measures which alone can be expected to resolve Japan’s internal and external difficulties. There are several who fulfill the first condition but there is no one now visible on the horizon who fulfills both.

Cipher text by airmail to Peiping, Shanghai.

  1. For the Prime Minister’s reply, see telegram No. 715, December 29, 7 p.m., from the Ambassador in Japan, vol. iii, p. 635.