740.00119 Control (Japan)/2–446

Mr. Max W. Bishop, of the Office of the Political Adviser in Japan, to the Secretary of State

No. 238

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a memorandum75 prepared by a member of the staff of this Office on the subject: “The Imperial Rescript of January 1, 1946”. The Rescript was favorably received by most Allied officials and by most Japanese. Future developments in regard to the imperial institution will determine whether this New Year’s Rescript is to become one of the most important official documents in Japanese history. It takes its place alongside the Meiji Charter-Oath as a foundation of Japanese governmental policy. The official text in Japanese is inclosed,75 as is an official translation into English, which has been approved by the Prime Minister.76

[Here follows summary of the rescript, printed infra.]

The official English translation will be helpful to avoid varying interpretation such as is evident by comparison of the English texts [Page 134] published in the Nippon Times and the Mainichi. Two statements attached prepared by professors of American Institutions and Government, in Tokyo Imperial University and in Waseda University,77 give informed and thoughtful analysis of the Rescript. Dr. Takagi is serving as adviser to a cabinet committee planning the revision of the Japanese Constitution and has just been appointed to the Japanese Liaison Committee on Education. Both professors are authors of well known books.

Respectfully yours,

Max W. Bishop

Foreign Service Officer in Charge

Official Translation of Imperial Rescript, January 1, 1946

Today we greet the New Year. My thought goes back to the beginning of the Meiji Era when Emperor Meiji proclaimed the Five Clauses of the Charter-Oath as the basis of our national policy. It reads:

Deliberative assemblies on a wide scope shall be convened, and all matters of government decided by public opinion.
Both the high and the low shall with a unity of purpose vigorously engage in the conduct of public affairs.
All the common people, no less than the servants of state, civil and military, shall be enabled to fulfill each his just aspirations, lest discontent should infect their minds.
All the evil practices of the past shall be eliminated, and the nation shall abide by the universal rules of justice and equity.
Wisdom and knowledge shall be sought throughout the world to promote the prosperity of the Empire.

What more need be added to these open and lofty precepts? By reaffirming the Oath, I desire to direct the future course of our national fortunes: It is my wish that on the lines so indicated, old abuses shall be discarded, full play be allowed to popular will, all officials and people be whole-heartedly given to the pursuit of peace, and enriched culture and learning be attained, and the standards of living of the people be elevated. Thus shall a new Japan be constructed.

Devastations wrought by the war upon our cities and towns, the miseries of its victims, the stagnation of industries, the shortages of food, and the great and growing numbers of the unemployed are sorely heart-rending. But as long as the nation faces indomitably the present ordeal, remains firm in its determination to seek civilization consistently in peace, and preserves the perfect accord to the end, [Page 135] there is no doubt but that a glorious prospect will be revealed not only for our country but for the whole humanity.

Love of the family and love of the country are particularly strong in our land. With no less devotion should we extend this spirit, and dedicate ourselves to the love of mankind.

The protracted war having ended in defeat, our people are liable to become restive or to fall into utter despondency. The extremist tendencies appear to be gradually spreading, and the sense of morality is markedly losing its hold on the people. In effect, there are signs of confusion of thought, and the existing situation causes me deep concern.

I stand by my people. I am ever ready to share in their joys and sorrows. The ties between me and my people have always been formed by mutual trust and affection. They do not depend upon mere legends or myths. Nor are they predicted on the false conception that the Emperor is divine, and that the Japanese are superior to other races and destined to rule the world.

My government will leave no stone unturned to alleviate the trials and tribulations of the people. At the same time, I trust that my people will rise to the occasion, and strive courageously for the development of industry and culture as well as for the solution of their more immediate problems. If in their civic life my people maintain solidarity, practice mutual aid and assistance and foster the spirit of broad tolerance, they will prove themselves worthy of their best traditions. In this manner, our nation will undoubtedly render a signal contribution toward the welfare and advancement of mankind.

The planning for the year is made at its commencement. I confidently hope that my beloved people will unite with me in my present resolve, and that they will dauntlessly and unflinchingly march onward for the accomplishment of the great undertaking which now confronts the nation.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For a different translation, see Political Reorientation of Japan, p. 470.
  4. Neither printed.