740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–1246

Memorandum by Mr. William J. Sebald, of the Office of the Political Adviser in Japan32


Political Parties in Japan: Developments During the Week Ending March 9, 1946

Summary. The bickerings of the political parties were almost entirely overshadowed by the publication of the Government’s draft Constitution,33 strongly supported by simultaneous statements issued [Page 177] by the Supreme Commander,34 the Emperor, and the Cabinet. With the exception of the Communist Party, all major parties have announced their approval of the new Constitution, despite difference of opinion on minor points. It appears safe to anticipate a whole-hearted support for the document, irrespective of which major party may gain preponderant influence in the coming election. The Communist Party, on the other hand, demands a thorough revision; but its statement voicing disagreement with the new Constitution relies more on communistic clichés following the party line than upon objective criticism. (Comments made by the political parties concerning the new Constitution are contained in an Appendix.35) The position of the Emperor and constitutional revision plans appear to be no longer live issues in the election campaign, but numerous important problems might well be debated by the candidates in preparation for consideration in the next Diet. If Japanese political behavior in the past is taken as a guide for the probable pattern of Japanese democracy in the immediate future, there appears some doubt that competent leadership will emerge from the Diet. The difficulties to be faced by the new Diet, must largely depend for their solution upon party leadership, discipline, and organization. As yet, no political party has demonstrated an awareness of the responsibilities with which it would be faced were it to obtain a majority, nor has any clue been furnished concerning their probable procedure in that event. The political parties must find the necessary leadership to initiate Japan along the road to a democratic state, and to fill the vacuum left by the elimination of many experienced leaders from the political scene and from Government. As of March 9, the Progressive Party announced that more than 300 candidates cleared by the Government will run under the Party’s banner; the Social Democratic Party presently has 264 such candidates; and the Liberal Party expects to have some 300, including Hatoyama Ichiro, its president. End of Summary.

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

William J. Sebald
  1. Copy of memorandum transmitted to the Department in dispatch 302, March 12, 1946, from Max W. Bishop, of the same office; received March 25.
  2. For text of second Japanese Government draft of constitution (Cabinet draft), March 6, see Political Reorientation of Japan, p. 631.
  3. March 6. See Political Reorientation of Japan, p. 657.
  4. Not printed.