740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–746

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

No. 291

Sir: I have the honor to refer to this Office’s despatches No. 153, January 2, No. 234, January 29, No. 246, February 9, No. 275, February 25, and No. 282, February 28, 1946,19 forwarding translations of the published Constitution revision proposals of four leading Japanese political circles, two private study groups, and Dr. Takano Iwasaburo.20 In this connection there is enclosed a memorandum entitled “Comparative Analysis of the Published Constitution Revision Plans of the Japan Progressive, Liberal, Socialist and Communist Parties, Two Private Study Groups, and Dr. Takano Iwasaburo”.

The memorandum was prepared primarily to bring out the points of similarity and dissimilarity in the subject plans on leading issues of Constitutional reform (the comparative positions are shown in convenient tabular form in an Appendix to the Memorandum) and only secondarily as a critical analysis of those plans. The study should permit rapid comparison of the individual and collective positions of the leading political parties on the issues of Constitutional [Page 170] reform with the Government’s draft revision released by the Cabinet on March 6, 1946. This ably and carefully prepared memorandum should be of real value in providing in readily usable form a comparison of the expressed views of important and influential Japanese groups on the vital question of Constitutional reform. The Cabinet draft plan is being forwarded under cover of a subsequent despatch.21

Respectfully yours,

Max W. Bishop

Foreign Service Officer

Memorandum by Mr. Robert A. Fearey of the Office of the Acting Political Adviser in Japan

Comparative Analysis of the Published Constitution Revision Plans of the Japan Progressive, Liberal, Socialist and Communist Parties, Two Private Study Groups, and Dr. Takano Iwasaburo

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

constitutional amendments

The Progressives, Liberals and the CIA22 specifically provide, and the Socialists clearly imply, that the Diet shall have the power of initiating Constitutional amendments. The Socialists and the CIA provide that such amendments shall require the presence of two-thirds of the members of both Houses and the approval of a majority of those present. Dr. Takano, and, by implication, the Progressives, the Liberals and the FBA,23 since they make no mention of the matter, would continue the procedure stipulated in the existing Constitution, requiring the presence of two-thirds of the members of both Houses and the consent of two-thirds of those present. The CIA would permit the Constitution to be amended by popular plebiscite, requiring the approval of a majority of the voters.

The above presentation reveals a complicated cross-pattern of agreement and disagreement. Outstanding among the points of agreement is the fact that the Progressives, the Liberals, the Socialists, the FBA and the CIA, all, in fact except the Communists and Dr. Takano, representing a small minority of opinion, favor the British over the American form of democratic government, as would be expected considering how much closer the existing Japanese governmental structure and tradition is to the British system than to our own.

[Page 171]

Within this group, the Progressives, Socialists and the CIA are agreed that the Cabinet shall be responsible to the Diet; that new Prime Ministers shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Presidents of the two Houses of the Diet; that the House of Representatives elected by and from the general population shall be supreme over the Upper House; that the Upper House shall be entirely or in greater part elected by and from the various occupational groups; that the Diet shall not be closed, or, in the case of the Progressives, may meet at will; that the Privy Council and the peerage shall be abolished; that fundamental human rights shall be guaranteed; that the independence of the judiciary shall be ensured; that no budget shall go into effect without the prior approval of the Diet, or, in some circumstances, in the case of the Progressives, the Diet Standing Committee; and that Constitutional amendments may be initiated and decided by stipulated majorities of the Diet.

The Liberals and the FBA, on the other hand, propose no change in the present procedure for the appointment of Prime Ministers; make no provision, or, in the case of the Liberals, inadequate provision, for the supremacy of the Lower over the Upper House; fail to provide for the democratization of the Upper House; fail to increase the length of the annual session of the Diet or to provide that the Diet may meet at will; fail to ensure that no budget shall go into effect without the prior approval of the Diet; do nothing, in the case of the Liberals, to abolish or reform the peerage; and fail in the case of the FBA, to confer power on the Diet to initiate Constitutional amendments.

It may be stated that, generally speaking, the Progressive, Socialist and CIA drafts succeed and the Liberal and FBA drafts fail to establish the essentials of democratic government. Even the former, however, lack precision and explicitness on key points. None of the three, for example, expressly provides for a Cabinet; none actually states that the Cabinet must resign or appeal to the electorate on a vote of no-confidence by the Lower House; only the CIA provides that the Presidents of the two Houses of the Diet, who are to recommend new Prime Ministers to the Emperor, shall be elected by the Diet membership; and only the CIA speaks of the joint responsibility of the Cabinet to the Diet, But while these omissions are unquestionably an important defect of the drafts, there is little reason to believe that they are deliberate. The fuller explanations of party leaders and members leave little doubt that the lack of explicitness is attributable to inexpert drafting and the desire for brevity and simplicity, and that genuinely democratic forms are intended. The plans are preliminary drafts, not finished legal documents, and were necessarily limited in newspaper space.

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Although the Progressive, Socialist and CIA plans reveal many points of similarity in establishing the essentials of British-type, democratic government, the Progressives, joined by the Liberals and FBA, present a very different point of view from the Socialists, the Communists and the CIA on the issues of the Emperor and free private enterprise versus a controlled economy. Regarding the former, all six drafts state or clearly imply that the Emperor’s powers shall be purely nominal and that he shall have neither political nor legal responsibility. The conservative group, however, being of the opinion that the Emperor should be retained as a stabilizing influence (partly from reasons of self-interest but in many cases also from a genuine conviction that democracy can be more firmly and lastingly introduced under the Emperor than without him), desire the retention of at least part of his theoretical powers. The leftist group, on the other hand, consider the Emperor institution a source of strength to their conservative opponents and a hindrance to their plans. Recognizing that in the present state of public opinion complete abolition of the institution is impossible, they nevertheless desire him stripped of theoretical as well as practical power and his prerogatives limited to purely ceremonial functions.

Difference of view on the desirability of retaining the capitalistic system or establishing a socialistic economy follows the same party lines. While the Liberals have chosen to insert in their draft specific provisions for the protection of private property and freedom of enterprise and the Progressives make no mention of the matter, the difference is doubtless merely a matter of tactics, as there can be little question of the Progressives’ equally strong support of the free private enterprise system. The Socialists and the CIA for their part explicitly provide in their respective drafts that private property rights shall be subject to limitation for the general welfare. These fundamental conflicts, on the status of the Emperor and the nature of Japan’s economy, should be at least partially resolved in the coming elections.

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

Robert A. Fearey
  1. None printed except despatch 246, February 9, p. 137.
  2. Adviser to Shakaito (Social Democrats).
  3. No. 296, March 8, infra.
  4. Constitution Investigation Association, a private study group.
  5. Federation of Bar Associations.