740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–846

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

No. 296

Sir: On March 5, 1946, there was issued an Imperial rescript on Constitutional reform. The Japanese Government was directed to [Page 173] exert its best efforts to revise the Constitution. On March 6, 1946, the Japanese Government, in compliance with the Imperial directive, made public its new draft Constitution.24 On the same day the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers issued a statement25 in which he gave full approval to the Government’s draft. I have the honor to enclose copies of these important documents. There are also enclosed copies of a press release by the Chief Secretary of the Cabinet.26

There has not been time to prepare a careful analysis of the new draft, the sudden announcement of which came as a surprise. It is apparent from General MacArthur’s press release and from the Imperial rescript that the Government’s draft was carefully considered by Headquarters and was approved by the Supreme Commander and by the Emperor before its issuance. The draft differs radically from press and other reports of the probable nature of the Government’s planned revision originally prepared by Minister Without Portfolio Matsumoto. Before acceptance of the present version of the Government’s Constitutional proposals, we are reliably informed that there was precipitated a serious Cabinet crisis. This crisis was overcome apparently by the firm attitude of the Prime Minister who had the full backing of the Emperor and of the Supreme Commander.

There is some danger that in future the Japanese may regard this draft plan as having been prepared for them rather than as having been created by them. Should this eventuality materialize, Japan’s attitude towards its new Constitution, if adopted as appears likely, might be radically altered.

It is our intention to prepare for the Department a detailed analysis of the Government’s draft, a full report of the events leading to its publication, and a careful study of the reaction in Japan. In the meantime, attention may be directed especially to Chapter 2, Article IX, “Renunciation of War”, as a startling and novel Constitutional provision. By this Article the Japanese renounce forever the “threat or use of force” and assert that the “maintenance of land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be authorized” and that “the right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized”. It remains to be seen whether this provision will stand the test of time and the stress of relations between nations. It is apparent immediately that any nation without the means to protect its security must rely upon outside sources for that protection. Unless and until the United Nations Organization demonstrably becomes an effective and authoritative international body, it is also apparent that protection [Page 174] furnished by one or more powers might be considered a threat by another or other powers.

Respectfully yours,

Max W. Bishop

Foreign Service Officer

Press Release Issued by General Headquarters, United States Army Forces, Pacific, at Tokyo, March 6, 1946

The Emperor of Japan today27 issued the following Imperial Rescript:

“Consequent upon our acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration the ultimate form of Japanese government is to be determined by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people. I am fully aware of our nation’s strong consciousness of justice, its aspirations to live a peaceful life and promote cultural enlightenment and its firm resolve to renounce war and to foster friendship with all the countries of the world. It is, therefore, my desire that the Constitution of our empire be revised drastically upon the basis of the general will of the people and the principle of respect for the fundamental human rights. I command hereby the competent authorities of my government to put forth in conformity with my wish their best efforts toward the accomplishment of this end.”

  1. For text of second Japanese Government Draft of constitution, see Political Reorientation of Japan, p. 631.
  2. Ibid., p. 657.
  3. Not printed. Wataru Narahashi was Chief Secretary of the Cabinet.
  4. March 5.