740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–1346

Memorandum by the Chairman of the Far Eastern Commission (McCoy) to the Secretary of State14

The purpose of this report is to present to the Secretary of State the primary accomplishments of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission during its recent visit to Japan and to make brief recommendations as to the stand which I believe the, United States should take in regard to the future early decisions of the newly constituted Far Eastern Commission. There are attached hereto the reports of various members of my staff and of the Secretary General which cover in detail the activities and investigations of the Commission and which outline the impressions these gentlemen received as a result of their observations and contacts. I forward them for such distribution and use as you may deem desirable.

The most satisfactory result of the Commission’s visit, from the point of view of the United States was the feeling of confidence in the Supreme Commander engendered in the minds of the foreign representatives. Regardless of their views concerning the policies established by the United States for the control of Japan, all delegates are convinced that those policies are being carried out effectively and with the utmost wisdom by the Supreme Commander and his staff. They were all impressed by General MacArthur’s grasp of the problems which face him and by the statesmanship he has shown in performing his difficult task. They were particularly gratified by his consciousness of the international character of his position and the attendant responsibilities.

Of equal importance was the ability of the Commission to erase from the minds of General MacArthur and his staff the natural suspicion which they harbored before they were able to establish personal contact with the representatives. There has now been established a mutual confidence and respect, a cognizance of each other’s problems which will aid materially in furthering United States objectives not only in the control of Japan but in the general field of international cooperation.

I feel that certain subjects stand out as being in need of policy guidance in the very near future. Such subjects include Reparations, (on which depends the restoration of Japanese economy,) an export-import program closely integrated with the production and provision [Page 160] of the food required to maintain a viable economy and a definite decision on the part of the United States to support the Supreme Commander’s views in regard to the Emperor.

It is my intention to press for consideration of these matters in the Commission not only because of their intrinsic importance but because they offer an opportunity for the Commission to take the initiative in areas where policy is as yet undecided rather than to concern itself with academic discussions of well established policies whose change or modification at this late date is virtually impossible.

Frank R. McCoy
[Annex 1—Extract]

Memorandum by the Secretary General of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission (Johnson)

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The question is, when we have destroyed Japanese belief in the divinity of their land and their own divine origin as the vassals of a divinely descended Emperor, will the human Emperor emerge and survive as a symbol of government—as the English King has survived—as the leader of a democratically-organized Japanese society. This should be our hope in planning for a Japan thirty years from now if we are to have stability and security in the Pacific. To accomplish this will require careful handling, for fate has given to us the responsibility for controlling the destiny of Japan during this period of transition. If we can by manipulation and encouragement bring it about that these changes will be accepted by the Japanese as Japanese conceived and brought to accomplishment, then our chances of success through the permanency of the change will be great. But if we use force, then we may be certain that when we withdraw the force the Japanese themselves will reverse the situation as evidence of their independence of action.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

[Annex 2—Extracts]

Memorandum by Colonel C. Stanton Babcock to the Chairman of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission (McCoy)

Subject: Impressions Gained During our Visit to Japan


The notes which follow hereafter represent an attempt to record my impressions after numerous interviews with Staff Officers in G.H.Q., [Page 161] officers on duty with the troops occupying the Tokyo district, and a number of Japanese with whom I came in contact. None of the personnel, either American or Japanese, were senior in rank or acknowledged leaders in their groups. Knowing that others in our group would have more opportunity and be better qualified to talk to the better known figures, I tried to meet younger and less prominent persons. Japanese with whom I came in contact represented the Army, the Navy, the Protestant Church, the Imperial Household, the Foreign Office, the fringes of big business, minor Communists, farmers and fishermen. Some were men and some were women. Most were in the age group between 30 and 45.


There seem as yet to be no clearly defined patterns of thought in Japan strong enough to break through class or occupational barriers. The defeat, the resultant depressed conditions and the occupation do not yet seem to have been brought home to the Japanese as national problems. Each individual, or class of individuals, thinks of these matters solely in terms of how they will affect him or his group. The attempt to adjust to strange and unpleasant conditions of life, the uncertainties of the immediate future as they affect the individual’s livelihood are taking up so much of the energy and thought of the people that the problem of Japan and the nation’s future is shoved into the background or relegated to “Makasa.”

As yet there have arisen no leaders, there have emerged no political or economic philosophies virile enough to arouse in the people any enthusiasm. This is natural under present conditions, but those with whom I talked felt that Communism, with its positive policy and organized pressure, would take enormous strides unless a strong new movement completely divorced from association with older political movements could emerge and capture the imagination of that great mass of people who are disillusioned by the leadership of the past. Communism they fear and distrust at present, but its potentialities are great when measured against the purely defensive attitude of the other political groups. Moreover, there is a feeling, (particularly strong among discharged service men), that militarism alone is not responsible for Japan’s ills, but that much of the blame must be shouldered by the oligarchic system out of which militarism arose. Discharged soldiers and sailors may feel that the generals and admirals led them into a hopeless war, but they do not forget the paternalistic interest that the services took in conditions among the poorer classes, particularly the farmers and fishermen. No leaders who fail to champion the cause of the underprivileged can count long on the support of the former soldiers and sailors and those whom these latter influence.

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Army and Navy:

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One of the, most interesting expressions of opinion that I heard was the constantly expressed hope among Japanese officers that the occupation would be a long one. This was prompted in part, of course, by the fear of being left helpless in the face of Russia, but also by the feeling that their way of life had been destroyed and that we must stay long enough to train a new generation which really understood our way of life. These men made no attempt to make me think that they approved of our way of life, but they felt that Japan’s future was hopeless if we merely destroyed the old and then pulled out before establishing the basis for a new and stable form of existence. Democracy may be unpalatable but it is better than chaos.

The feeling toward the war was fairly uniform. There was no feeling of guilt; not even that they had made a mistake. The attitude was that of men who had taken a desperate but necessary gamble, done everything possible to ensure success, but had lost. To accomplish their objective of a Japan supreme in East Asia, they had had to go to war. They knew that their only chance lay in prolonging the war to the point where we would tire and give up. They failed, and admit their failure and the end of their hopes and ambitions, but they still think they took the only course open to them.

The Imperial Household:

This is the only group in Japan which has not been materially affected by the defeat and the occupation, and over which G.H.Q. has exercised no real influence. The impression I got was of a selfish group intent on preserving their special privileges, indifferent to events except as they would affect their own privileged positions. They are fearful of any outside influence reaching the Emperor, and are particularly worried lest American influences cause them to lose their hold over the Crown Prince. They pin their hopes on the British and (perhaps as a result of wishful thinking), are fairly confident of success.

There seems to be some feeling among those interested in preserving the status quo that the Imperial Household may furnish a nucleus around which they can all gather. No steps seem to have been taken in this direction as yet and the jealousy of the Kunaisho towards those without the pale may prove a serious barrier if, and when, such a movement starts. The idea is there, however, and events may force this small group of reactionaries to assume such a leadership for their own preservation.

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I desire to stress once more that these are personal impressions gained as a result of conversations with a group of unimportant people whose only claim on my attention was that, in a confused and bewildered land, they had been thinking.

C. Stanton Babcock

Colonel, GSC
[Annex 3—Extracts]

Report by Dr. George E. Blakeslee on the Far Eastern Commission’s Trip to Japan, December 26, 1945–February 13, 1946

I The Trip

The Far Eastern Commission visited Japan in order to consult with the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and to study conditions. Three full weeks were spent in Japan, most of the time in Tokyo, with week-end trips to Nikko–Sendai, and Kyoto–Nara–Kure–Hiroshima–Osaka. These side trips enabled the Commission to see the areas of Japan not damaged by the war and to realize the destruction in the cities which had been severely bombed. On the last day a visit was made to the 8th Army Headquarters at Yokohama and to the Yokosuka Naval Base. In Tokyo Army officers from the staff of SCAP usually met with the Commission daily, both mornings and afternoons, to describe the work of the occupation authorities. In addition the members of the Commission and the assistants had conversations with many Japanese and gained a good idea of the Japanese points of view.

A summary of the personnel of the Commission and of its daily activities has been prepared by the Secretary General and is attached.15

II The Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers

General MacArthur welcomed the Commission to Japan and facilitated its work in every way, especially by directing his officers in charge of the several sections of the Occupation Administration to appear before the Commission, explain their work, furnish all requested material, and answer all inquiries. General MacArthur spoke to the Commission shortly before it left Tokyo and in strict confidence explained frankly his policies in regard to the treatment of Japan, his evaluation of conditions and his forecast of future developments and problems. A summary of General MacArthur’s talk, which is to be regarded as secret, is attached.16

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III Reports or the Occupation Officials

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An outstanding fact is that the Occupation authorities are the real government of Japan. They permit the Japanese Government a measure of initiative and action, but only within the framework of Occupation policy. SCAP issues many directives to the Japanese Government and watches to see that they are properly executed. The Report of the Government section of SCAP states, “Government in Japan has become increasingly a matter of directive from the Supreme Commander rather than acts initiated by the Japanese Cabinet or Diet.” The Office of SCAP, further, makes suggestions to the Japanese Government, as in the case of women’s suffrage, which are dutifully carried out as if on the initiative of the Japanese. An illuminating instance of the close control of government by the Occupation authorities was shown during the recent sessions of the Diet, from November 26 to December 18, 1945. Most of the bills presented were Japanese Government bills. Each bill, however, was submitted to the Office of SCAP before it was presented. The U.S. Army officers watched the progress of the bill through the Diet, and when it was passed it was referred to SCAP for approval before it received Imperial sanction and was promulgated.

IV Views of the Japanese

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The Japanese as a whole approve the personnel and the measures of the Occupation Government. The U.S. soldiers have made an excellent impression and General MacArthur is widely popular. The natural resentment of the Japanese against their former enemies has largely been turned against their own military leaders, for whose punishment there is a considerable demand.

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In politics the interest of the Japanese is much less than it is in solving their economic problems. The danger of a return to power of the militarists was sometimes referred to, but it was generally regarded as slight, especially in any near future. There was an almost universal and deep fear, among the upper and middle classes, of Communism and of the Soviet Union. Many were under the apprehension that SCAP was favoring the Communists and left-wing Socialists, an impression doubtless due to SCAP’s insistence on freedom of the press, assembly and discussion, which resulted to the advantage of the formerly proscribed parties and organizations. There was much discussion of a SCAP directive issued on January 4, 1946, which is [Page 165] popularly termed the Purge Directive. It bars from public office and from public life all men who had held in the past a designated list of public offices in the Government or in certain parties. This purge of those assumed to be militarists or prominent totalitarian leaders was generally approved, but there was an almost equally strong feeling among the upper and middle classes that the directive was unjust in its application in certain cases, and purged men who were essentially liberal and anti-military, but who had at some time held one of the proscribed positions. No point was stressed more strongly by many Japanese than the advisability of a just, reasonable and fair-minded interpretation and application of this directive.

The future of the Emperor was discussed by every Japanese. Most of them felt strongly that the institution of the Emperor should be retained, but that it should be modified so that it would come to be similar to that of the British crown.

V Conclusions and Problems

One of the earliest and strongest impressions on one who has known Japan in the pre-war days is the comparative absence of goods of all kinds and the poor appearance of the clothes of both men and women.

According to an estimate by Professor Shiroshi Nasu of the Tokyo Imperial University, now a consultant on one of SCAP’s sections and a recognized authority, Japan has lost one-third of its total wealth and from one-third to one-half of its total potential income. The actual present income is less than one-half of the pre-war level. The rural population in Japan, comprising 40% of the population, has a present standard of living about 65% of the pre-war level; the non-rural, about 35% of its pre-war level; and the nation as a whole, about one-half of the pre-war level.

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3. The Attitude of the Japanese

After the surrender both Americans and Japanese were surprised. The Japanese were surprised at the good conduct of the U.S. soldiers and the Americans at the cooperative attitude of the Japanese. The frequent prophesies regarding the conduct of the Japanese were not realized; there were no mass murders, no assassinations, no guerrilla warfare, no passive resistance. The Japanese accepted the defeat and carried out the directives of the Supreme Commander. Their attitude and conduct on the whole have been excellent, although the Occupation authorities feel that the Japanese Government has shown too little initiative and at times has delayed in executing orders. There are at least [Page 166] three factors which may explain in part the conduct of the Japanese: (1) they are habituated to obey the orders of the Government, and the Emperor ordered them to surrender and to carry out the directives of SCAP; (2) they were disillusioned with their own Government and military leadership, and turned to the U.S. authorities for a new and better leadership; and (3) throughout their history they have shown the ability to recognize a new situation and to adjust themselves to it.

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6. The Emperor

Aside from economic problems the chief topic of discussion on the Commission’s visit to Japan was the Emperor. The outstanding fact is that the great majority of the Japanese desire him to remain on the throne and that the Occupation finds him of great service and is opposed to any effort by Allied authorities to remove him or to try him as a war criminal.

A Japanese Gallup Poll reports that 92% of the Japanese people are in favor of retaining the Emperor; and approximately this estimate was generally supported by Japanese with whom members of the Commission talked. Of political parties only the Communists have expressed a wish to remove him.

Not only are the Japanese in favor of retaining the Emperor; they have a deep emotional attachment to the Imperial Institution. Thoughtful Japanese state that the Emperor is needed in Japan as a symbol of national unity, binding the people together, by strong ties of sentiment, and as a moderating and harmonizing factor in Japan’s political life. The people regard the Emperor not merely as head of the state, but as head of the national family of which they are all members.

In favor of the present Emperor is the fact that the people as a whole are deeply grateful to him for ending the war, and that among the well-informed it is common knowledge that in August, 1945, when his advisers were divided as to continuing the war or making peace, he decided for peace and subsequently, when doubts arose, strongly maintained his position. His New Year’s Rescript, disclaiming divinity, was apparently approved by most well-educated Japanese and was received with acquiescence by the people at large. The Emperor’s advisers are older statesmen of well-known liberal views and friendly sentiments toward the United States.

The Occupation has found the Emperor to be a great asset in its task of disarming and administering Japan. The Chief of the Civil Information and Education Section, who spoke to the Commission on the subject of the Emperor, said that the Occupation could do a great deal through the Emperor that could not be done otherwise, and [Page 167] that to try the Emperor as a war criminal would be the greatest mistake the Allies could make.

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VI The Future

The accomplishments of the Occupation within the relatively short period of five months have been remarkable and far greater than anticipated before the surrender. The Japanese armed forces have largely been demobilized and disarmed and their military materiel destroyed. Security in Japan has been established. Militarists and ultra-nationalists have already been removed from important posts, and the Japanese Government is functioning under the strict supervision and direction of the Supreme Commander. The democratization of Japan has been well begun, especially in the fields of Government and Education, and along lines which it is hoped the Japanese themselves will wish to follow and to complete. All of these achievements appear to have the approval of the large majority of the Japanese people.

Nevertheless, Japanese sentiment at present is still plastic. The Japanese have not yet completely adjusted their thinking to their shattering defeat and to the changed world in which they must live. To mold and to harden Japanese thought and institutions in accordance with a pattern desired by the United States will require much more than has already been achieved and will necessitate the utmost wisdom on the part of the Occupation.

The kind of a Japan which the United States should desire, some twenty to thirty years from now when the immediate problems of the war have been settled, is a Japan peaceful, democratic, efficient, meeting its obligations to other states and cooperating with them for the common interests of the family of nations, particularly in the Far East, and with a measure of prosperity which will be deserved under the existing circumstances. It is particularly desired that Japan should continue to develop the type of democracy which has already been started by the Occupation and that it should be friendly to the United States and sympathetic with American ideals.

To achieve these ultimate objectives and to avoid the dangers which threaten them it is essential to prevent economic distress for the Japanese and to introduce such further reforms as the Japanese will eventually approve and make permanent. The immediate problem is economic. A sane democracy cannot rest on an empty stomach. Economic distress normally leads to an attempt to change the existing government to one which promises relief—either an extreme right wing or an extreme left wing movement.

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In Japan a right wing movement would probably be led by the militarists. At present they are so widely discredited that it is believed they could not gain any strong popular support, but organized underground as champions of relief from economic suffering, they might become politically dangerous. An extreme left wing movement is more probable. It is the natural tendency in history for every fundamental change in a nation to develop toward the extreme left, and the trend in political thought in Japan since the surrender has been distinctly to the left. Economic distress might well result in the establishment of a political and economic system in Japan closely similar to that in the Soviet Union—with all of its unfortunate political, economic, international and even military consequences for the United States.

To safeguard the American type of democracy in Japan and to remove the causes of either right or left wing movements, the Occupation and the United States should prevent acute food shortage and should take such measures as may be feasible to help the Japanese revive their industries and their export trade. As pre-requisites, the stabilization of their currency and especially an initial decision on reparations will be almost necessary.

To establish an American type of democracy which will give promise of permanence, it will be advisable for SCAP, now that the broad foundations of democracy have already been laid and appear to be acceptable to the Japanese, to proceed with moderation in his administration and in introducing further drastic changes. All reforms should be such that the Japanese will themselves probably wish to continue them after the withdrawal of Allied troops. Finally, as friendly Japanese point out, it will be particularly helpful to the Japanese to give them some assurance of hope for the future of their people and their nation.

  1. Transmitted by the Secretary General of the Far Eastern Commission (Johnson) to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Vincent) for the Secretary of State from General McCoy in covering letter of March 13, not printed. On March 25 Mr. Vincent transmitted the memorandum to the Secretary and to the Under Secretary of State; Mr. Acheson commented: “Most interesting.”
  2. Not printed.
  3. See memorandum dated January 30, p. 123.