740.00119 Control (Japan)/4–1046: Telegram

Mr. Max W. Bishop, of the Office of the Political Adviser in Japan, to the Secretary of State 57


171. Comment by Secretary or by the Dept is likely to be called for on results of the election in Japan. The following observations are offered in the interests of a unified American attitude supporting Japan’s initial democratic effort under the occupation:

In view of problems raised by Soviet attitude toward elections in Japan, by questions posed by Far Eastern Commission and by probability [Page 192] that majority of new Diet members will be elected from among candidates of Progressive and Liberal parties and various independent groups, it is believed highly desirable that United States be prepared to present and defend a sound American attitude toward Jap political developments. Unless the issues are clearly drawn and unless there is evolved an objective approach to those issues, we may fall victim to partisan attacks. It is regrettable that already there have appeared indications that some quarters in United States may consider the Communists and the so-called left wing Social Democrats as the only true liberal elements in Japan.

In evaluating the situation, it is difficult to over emphasize the importance of understanding Jap psychology fundamentally unlike that of any western people. It is impossible to measure by any western standard Jap reactions to particular set of circumstances and equally impossible to predict Jap actions on the basis of western logic. Japan’s proclivity to swing from the moderate to the extreme is well known, and if situation becomes as acute as some observers expect, drastic changes could easily take place.

There is widespread misconception as applied to Japan of the terms “democratic”, reactionary”, “conservative”, “right wing”, “left wing” and other terms prominent in the vocabulary of Soviets and Communist leaders. The statements regarding the election by the Soviet member of Allied Council at its first meeting are illustrative of attempts to create confusion, indecision and distrust and to discredit our occupation policies and accomplishments by scurrilous remarks regarding all political elements except those admittedly Communist or covertly aligned with the Communists.

As a matter of fact all political elements, not openly or covertly Communist, are united in their opposition to the extremist principles of Communism. Careful scrutiny of the principles advocated by the Progressive, Cooperative and Social Democratic parties fails to reveal any doctrine which might even remotely be considered as inimical to the development of democracy. On the contrary, in the programs of these parties are found democratic principles for political, social, financial and economic reforms of far reaching significance and scope.

Except for the Communist Party, each of the major Jap political parties counts among its membership individuals with wide variations of political beliefs and practices. In the aggregate these parties fairly represent a cross section of the Jap people. Espousal of evolutionary developments along democratic lines as opposed to revolutionary and increasingly violent methods of the Communists does not appear to be adequate basis for classification as a “force of reaction”. An outstanding example of difference between Communistic and non-Communistic [Page 193] groups is found in the respective attitudes of the several parties toward the recently published Government Constitution draft. The Progressive party gives unqualified support. Except for minor changes Liberal, Social Democratic and Cooperative parties also approve and support draft. Only Communist party has announced its complete opposition and advocacy of a draft in accordance with Communist ideology.

The Communist Party and its leaders have baldly and repeatedly asserted their ultimate goal to create a “single-class, single-party” state. Such a state in fact can mean only a Communist dictatorship under which no democratic, minority or contrary opinion of any sort would be tolerated. It is unimportant that for, an interim period and for their own advantage the Communists are willing to accept temporary partnership with other political elements which the Communists, sooner or later, expect to destroy.

It would seem difficult for United States, in good conscience, to support or condone any such Communistic program. It would, of course, be a negation of democratic principles to deny, or to allow the Japs to deny the Communists a right to speak and to be heard. At the same time it would be folly to ignore the instincts of security and to contribute, directly or indirectly, to the delusion that the Communists in the face of their declared principles and aims are a truly liberal or democratic group. For purposes of evaluation in the light of American policy, the political scene in Japan, then, may be divided into Communist and non-Communist groups, the latter comprising presently the overwhelming majority of the people. The USSR has a well disciplined political instrument of Soviet policy in Jap Communist party. United States has no such instrument.

To expect the Japs overnight to develop an informed, intelligent and discerning electorate would be to expect a miracle. Similarly to hope that all new Diet members, inexperienced as they will be, will prove themselves immediately democratic statesmen with no connection with Japan’s past, would be to invite disillusionment. However, during the present period of tutelage, it would seem lacking in political sagacity to cast aside stable elements which oppose communizing this country and to belittle the cooperative efforts of Japan’s majority to move toward democratic government.

Only among non-Communist groups in Japan will there be found permanent support for American programs and policies. Statements or implications that because of their “conservatism” the majority of Japs are unworthy of our consideration or cooperation, if not actual support, could only result in serious harm to American policy and in positive strengthening of Soviet position. Accordingly, every effort [Page 194] should be made to avoid bolstering Jap Communists who in final analysis support Soviet attempts to undermine American prestige and position in the immediate occupation and in the longer accomplishment of our Pacific policy.

  1. In telegram 174, April 10, 1946, Mr. Bishop reported that General MacArthur had “expressed his complete concurrence with views contained” in telegram 171 and favored giving copy of it to General McCoy. Copy was transmitted to General McCoy through Erle R. Dickover of the U.S. delegation to the Far Eastern Commission on April 16. At the same time General McCoy was sent a copy of a memorandum of comment on this telegram, written by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Japanese Affairs (Emmerson), recently returned from Japan; this had also been submitted to the Under Secretary of State. Mr. Emmerson concluded: “In Japan the best course to pursue is to proceed positively and energetically to strengthen those political elements and tendencies which lead toward final fulfillment of the objectives of the Potsdam Declaration. Our choice of such elements must be based upon penetrating scrutiny of individuals and groups without reference to political clichés. If we are persistent, our influence upon the now very malleable Japanese will be decisive and the Communists will remain a minority impressive in noise, but not in influence.” 740.00119 Control (Japan) /4–1046)