Lot 122, Box 53

Memorandum Prepared by the Inter-Divisional Area Committee on the Far East


Japan: Nullification of Obnoxious Laws

I. The Problem

Are there any obnoxious laws that should be nullified? If so, what are they? (Question 3g)4

II. Discussion

It is assumed that the term “laws” as used in the question above refers to ordinances and regulations issued under laws (enabling acts), as well as to the laws themselves. The Commander-in-Chief of the [Page 1215] occupying forces is in full authority during the period of occupation and therefore is able to suspend any obnoxious laws, ordinances and regulations for that period. It may be found desirable, however, to have ordinances and regulations rescinded in accordance with Japanese legal procedure, in order that they will not become immediately operative again upon the termination of the occupation. Ordinances and regulations are issued and revoked in Japan by the ministries concerned by virtue of powers granted them by enabling acts, but the acts are passed and repealed only by the Diet, which, it is contemplated, will be suspended during the period of occupation. However, the force and effect of any such act can be nulhfied by the rescission of ordinances and regulations issued under its authority. As the retention of essential ministerial machinery has been recommended in answer to other questions, the means are retained for eliminating obnoxious ordinances and regulations and for rendering inoperative obnoxious laws in a manner which conforms with Japanese legal procedure.

Information is not available in Washington upon which a complete list of obnoxious laws, ordinances and regulations can be compiled (especially as many of them have been issued since the outbreak of war in the Pacific) but attention is invited to certain broad categories in the recommendations given below.

III. Recommendations

It is recommended that laws be rendered inoperative and ordinances and regulations be revoked when found to be contrary to the purposes of the military occupation as defined in the directives which will be issued to the commanding officer. It may be found that some laws, ordinances and regulations which in normal times might be considered obnoxious will be found useful to the occupying forces in the emergency period following the surrender (e.g., any ordinances or regulations forbidding large public gatherings). Such ordinances need not be rescinded until the emergency period has passed.

Broad categories of laws, ordinances and regulations which may be considered as subject to suspension and rescission are as follows:

Those relating to the creation of the armed forces including the conscription and training of officers and men for active or reserve duty.
Those relating to the mobilization of industry, and labor for war purposes, such as the National Mobilization Act of 1938 and the Munitions Companies Act of 1943, and the ordinances and regulations issued thereunder.
Those restricting unduly freedom of expression, with particular reference to prohibitions against “dangerous thoughts”.
Those restricting freedom of worship, such as undue restraint on the freedom of churches to organize into independent sects as they deem proper.
Those granting extraordinary powers to the police, such as authority to hold persons in custody for indefinite periods before bringing them to trial.
Those which exploit the control by the Central Government of the educational system to indoctrinate Japanese youth with ultra-nationalist ideas and which require military training by students.

Prepared and reviewed by Inter-Divisional Area Committee on the Far East.

JA: ERDickover (drafting officer) JA: BRJohansen
TS: GHBlakeslee FSWilliams
HBorton CA: OEClubb
RAFearey LA: ALMoffat
PRJosselyn LRD: JRFriedman
FE: JWBallantine FSO: EHDooman
  1. Ante, p. 1192.