740.00119 Control (Japan)/2–2146: Telegram

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


114. February 14 through 20 political summary. Including blocking of all non governmental bank deposits as of February 17, this government promulgated series of drastic economic emergency measures; imperial properties remain under special control of SCAP.

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Favorable press and public reaction but with widespread concern Shidehara Government lacked public confidence and capacity for carrying out program. In this points of criticism included (1) provisions in regard to improved distribution and increased production weak compared to currency reforms; (2) before conditions reached present status, program should have been instituted; (3) as evidenced by delay in implementation, program favors the rich and permits wealthy to protect themselves and fails in cancelling war indemnities and suspending war bond payments; (4) uninforcibility of anti-hoarding provisions may bring about large scale bartering especially with the accumulated supplies of the rich (excepting Communists who said of reforms: “nothing but another forcible suppression of the masses” and asked again government resign). Principal parties, while pointing its weaknesses, supported the program and called on people to help make it work. Releases from headquarters stated measures were prepared in response to SCAP expressed dissatisfaction over government distribution and anti-inflation controls, and that SCAP would insist fundamental personal rights not be infringed in course of implementation.

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Kobayashi, Minister, informed Premier of resignation intention. Government plan to request exemption, Ogasawara and Matsumoto, occasioned strong popular criticism. The Premier confirmed that 1942 “recommended candidates” would be denied eligibility certificates and even hoped non recommended former members of the Diet would refrain from running.

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SCAP. General MacArthur made public the appointment of nine members of International Military Tribunal, Sir Wm. Webb, Australia, President. He ordered establishment of role system of military occupation courts to try specified offenses against the occupation such as unauthorized dealings in American goods and to assume jurisdiction of criminal cases which involve United Nations nationals unconnected with the forces of occupation. The government made responsible for equitable distribution flour from Manila (1000 tons), all future food imports, ordered to submit full accounting of such distribution. SCAP spokesman announced initiation of 5 year governmental program for expanding cultivated area by 3.8 million acres, mainly by reclaiming former military lands. SCAP told government it could see no objection to the Cabinet bill motivated by the SCAP directive, 6 November, which forbade Japanese to participate in international cartels of restrictive international trade agreements. The expert in SCAP fisheries urged increased production seed oysters and agar-agar in demand abroad. The government was ordered to register all Formosans, Ryukyuans, Chinese and Koreans resident in Japan with indications of each individual desire re repatriation, and to correct unsanitary conditions and other deficiencies at repatriation centers. Chief of Education and Information Section released a report which summarized measures for rehabilitation and reform of Japanese education during past 4 months. Principles to guide allocation of radio time for campaign purposes outlined by SCAP spokesmen.

Parties. The situation, political, continued confused as major parties, abandoning the hope that the government’s purge order might not be strictly enforced, began to reorganize party structures to revise campaign plans and select new candidates in accord with the new situation. President Machida, Progressive, and 16 directors, except Saito Takao, resigned following report that the government had decided to prohibit purgees from keeping political party leadership. The acting party head Saito stated new directors would be appointed and present platform and policies retained. He anticipated there would be no difficulty in securing new candidates and was confident Progressives would emerge majority party. This office thinks the Progressives’ constitution revision proposals, published 15 February, surprisingly [Page 144] liberal. They include placing of popular check over imperial prerogatives; Lower House supremacy; replacement of House of Peers by a partially elected Chamber of Councillors; “Prime Minister and State Ministers responsible to Diet”; abolition of Peerage and Privy Council; Diet approval of important treaties; and a Supreme Court with power of ruling on legislation constitutionality.

Liberals and Progressives denied intention of forming united front although Hatoyama87 indicated after elections such might be possible. Socialist left wing[’s] relative power still indeterminate, following the disqualification of some right wing leaders, [and] reportedly decided to resign their party positions. Funada and Kurosawa, Cooperative leaders, and entire Executive Committee excepting Ikawa Dado88 disqualified. Reportedly planning to sponsor 200 candidates the Communists pressed their advantage urging even more extensive purges. Nosaka “invaded” Osaka–Kobe–Kyoto region considered Social Democratic stronghold to promote Communist-dominated unions and increase among Kansai labor generally Communist following.

It was feared by some elements that some experienced parliamentarians would be barred by purge order from elections, including men of liberal reputation over long years in leadership of Jap labor movements and would be badly missed in the next Diet with “new man” who replaced them being for the most part prefectural assembly bosses of frequently less and certainly no more liberal viewpoint and definitely inferior quality. Resulting from freezing regulations proletarian parties expected to benefit from smaller campaign expenditures.

Sent Department, repeated Chungking as our 14 and 13 to Moscow.

  1. Ichiro Hatoyama, leader of Liberal Party.
  2. Tadao Ikawa (or Wikawa) had taken part in informal conversations regarding American-Japanese relations in 1941.