Lot 122, Box 53

Memorandum Prepared by the Inter-Divisional Area Committee on the Far East40


Japan: Suspension of Powers of Government

I. The Problem

Should the exercise of the powers of the present existing government be suspended? (Question 3d)41

Should the Japanese Government be supervised at only the national and prefectural levels? (Question 3j)41

Should control of the lower echelons of the native government be through inspectors rather than supervisory officials? (Question 3j)41

II. Discussion

Plans for dealing with Japan during the period of occupation should proceed from the basic principle that the authority and responsibility of all Japanese officials and organs, including the Emperor, be superseded, and that all governing authority during occupation resides in the commanding officer of the occupying forces. However, the commanding officer may direct certain functions of these officials and organs to be exercised under his authority.

A proclamation might be issued by the commanding officer immediately after occupation to the effect that, as provided by the rules of land warfare, all functions of government, legislative, executive, and administrative, whether general, provincial, or local, cease under military occupation or operate only with the sanction of the occupying authorities.

Certain administrative parts of the Japanese Government might be utilized by the military government with great effectiveness and so avoid an impossible burden of administrative detail, but the policymaking agencies which constitute the very core of the modern Japanese Government should be utterly discarded by the military government: the Privy Council, the Cabinet, the Diet, the Board of Field Marshals and Fleet Admirals, and the Supreme Military Council.

The Privy Council is a consultative body and gives advice to the Emperor when requested to do so. The Cabinet is composed of the departmental Ministers and of Ministers without Portfolio and exists for the purpose of initiating, determining and carrying out policies [Page 1248] of the Government. The Diet as it exists today is merely a “rubber-stamp” body, but in theory has certain legislative functions. The Board of Field Marshals and Fleet Admirals and the Supreme Military Council are supposed to concern themselves only with military affairs but in fact in recent years they have exerted great influence over the civilian government. The position of the Emperor in relation to military government has been considered separately. (PWC–116a—Institution of the Emperor).43

Military government must be supreme, and while it can effectively utilize much of the Japanese administrative machinery, obviously it cannot tolerate the existence of a separate Japanese government clothed with policy-making powers.

Because the administration of everyday affairs is largely centralized in Tokyo, the military government will probably need to utilize the administrative machinery of some of the national ministries. For example, the Ministry of Home Affairs operates the nation-wide police system and supervises sanitation and local governments; the Ministry of Transportation and Communications operates the railways, postal system, telephones and telegraphs; the Ministry of Education operates or supervises all schools throughout the country. Maintenance of the administrative machinery in these ministries may appear desirable. The control of this machinery by a pernicious oligarchy would be gone and the military government, by placing its civil affairs officers in the policy-making posts including those now occupied by the ministers and vice-ministers, could use this machinery for the purpose of the occupation including the development of democratic tendencies.

In order to assure as effective an administration as possible the military government may desire to utilize, also, the municipal and prefectural administrative machinery and there is no political objection to doing so. Indeed, if military considerations permit, the military government may find it desirable to continue the municipal and prefectural assemblies so as to aid in the development of democratic institutions and democratic processes.

Control of municipal and prefectural government may, at first, have to be by means of CAA supervision, but it is hoped that supervision can shortly be changed to inspection. This change may be brought about by placing CAA supervisors at the seat of prefectural governments whence regional inspectors could make tours of inspection in order to insure compliance with CAA orders and to keep the Japanese officials and population keenly aware of the vigilance and power of CAA. Later, the nine Local Administrative Deliberative Councils established July 1, 1943 might serve as convenient intermediary [Page 1249] organs between central and prefectural governments if active supervision is found unnecessary in some prefectures.

III. Recommendations

Since many potential factors in the situation which will face the occupying forces cannot be foreseen, the commanding officer should be given a wide latitude in dealing with that situation. Any directives of the War and Navy Departments should be tentative and flexible, in order to permit the commanding officer to make appropriate use of such cooperative Japanese elements as he may find.

In order to carry on as quickly and as effectively as possible the ordinary administrative functions of government, such as those of the police, post office, and public utilities, and to obtain the cooperation of the Japanese office-holders, the military authorities may find it desirable to continue some or all of the following:

Administrative functions and machinery of the municipal and prefectural governments under CAA supervision or inspection, and also the municipal and prefectural assemblies.
Administrative functions and machinery of the Ministries of Home Affairs, Finance, Justice, Transportation and Communications, Agriculture and Commerce, Education, and Welfare under CAA officers in the top policy-making positions.
Administrative functions and machinery relating to demobilization of the Army and Navy, conversion of factories to peacetime use and general liquidation of the Ministries of War, Navy, Munitions and Greater East Asia Affairs; these functions might be handled by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Routine administrative functions and machinery of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to be performed under the direction of CAA officers. Any policy matters should be referred to the Department of State.
Certain limited administrative functions of the Emperor as described in “Japan: Political Problems: Institution of the Emperor”—(PWC—116a).

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

TS: GHBlakeslee FSO: EHDooman
HBorton (drafting officer) CA: JCVincent
PRJosselyn OEClubb
FE: JWBallantine LA: ALMoffat (drafting officer)
AHiss ISO: QWright
JA: ERDickover (drafting officer) ME: MBHall
BRJohansen FMA: CFRemer
FSWilliams LRD: JRFriedman
  1. Marginal notation in the original: “Changes from document PWC–112b are underscored.” (Document under reference, dated May 4, not printed.)
  2. Ante, p. 1192.
  3. Ante, p. 1192.
  4. Ante, p. 1192.
  5. Dated April 24, not printed, but see PWC–116d, May 9, infra.