740.00119 Control (Japan)/2–2646

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Karl C. Leebrick, of the Office of the Political Adviser in Japan24

Subject: Views of Mr. Yada25 on Political Situation.

Mr. Yada is a graduate of Tokyo Imperial University, a career diplomat who has served as Consul at Mukden; Second Secretary at London, Consul General at London, San Francisco, and Shanghai; Minister to Switzerland; Privy Councillor to “Manchoukuo”. He was appointed President of Tung Wen College at Shanghai in September, 1940.

Mr. Yada called on me at my office and during the course of a friendly conversation made a number of statements, of which the following is the gist:

Prince Konoye saw General MacArthur26 soon after the occupation began in August last year. The Prince was very pleased with the interview. He felt that General MacArthur had encouraged him to continue his leadership and that the Occupational authorities had recognized him as a liberal even though it was known that he was one of the leaders during the war. On this basis the Prince attempted to cooperate with the Occupational authorities and took leadership in constitutional revision.

Hence, when the directive was published listing Prince Konoye as a war criminal,27 he was deeply disappointed and shocked. He expressed to friends the belief that this decision had come from a higher authority than General MacArthur, that it was somewhat contrary to the Supreme Commander’s desires, and that it was an ill-advised way to deal with Japan. Prince Konoye felt that he was a liberal and that he had done all that he could to check the militarists. He felt that listing him as a war criminal carried the Occupation policy too far; that many Americans understood what he (the Prince) had been attempting to do. He took great comfort from this, at the same time regretting that the Japanese, as a vanquished people, had for the time being lost their equilibrium and were flattering the Occupation leaders and currying their favor.

Mr. Yada explained at some length his close friendship with Prince Konoye. He spoke particularly of an interview he had had in the summer of 1943 when he came back to Japan from Shanghai on vacation. He arranged an interview with Prince Konoye because he felt [Page 407] compelled to say to him some things which he knew might be very unpleasant to the Prince and which he expected might end their friendship. In the two-hour talk Mr. Yada discussed with the Prince the general situation and pointed out that the Prince’s greatest drawback was that he could not say “No” in a positive way, and that if it became necessary, he should resign his office in an effort to uphold his idea of what was right. Mr. Yada told him that if he did this he would receive liberal support and that the war would then have to come to an end. Mr. Yada said he referred to the Meiji revolutionary Prince Yuwakura as an example Konoye should follow and pointed out that Prince Yuwakura took responsibility. Mr. Yada explained that what Japan needed at the time was a strong man who could say “No” to the military authorities.

(In an aside, Mr. Yada gave the opinion that prior to 1941 Prince Konoye could have checked the war by positive action.)

Prince Konoye was reported as being unhappy about what had been told him but remained friendly.

Mr. Yada reported the substance of this conversation to Count Makino,28 who recommended that Mr. Yada should propose a Japanese commission to meet with a United States commission in Hawaii or elsewhere, with President Roosevelt present if possible. However, at this time Mr. Yoshida29 was seized by the Japanese police. As Mr. Yoshida’s wife is the eldest daughter of Count Makino, the Count asked Mr. Yada to see Prince Konoye to try to find out why Mr. Yoshida was arrested. Prince Konoye told Mr. Yada that the Emperor had asked him (Prince Konoye) to have a private interview on the war situation and that he had told the Emperor that since he himself was not a military person he could not give information on the military situation. Konoye did state to the Emperor, however, his belief that if the war went on there was no hope of victory, that peace was necessary to save Japan, and that the offer of peace should be made at once because each day’s delay made the situation more serious.

Mr. Yada reported that Mr. Yoshida had asked Prince Konoye for a memorandum of this talk with the Emperor in order to show it to Count Makino. Mr. Yada did not think that such a memorandum was made. Military authorities learned of these conversations and arrested Mr. Yoshida in order to find out, if possible, what was going on. Count Kobayama30 later told Mr. Yada that [Page 408] the Japanese military authorities had failed to find any documents or get the evidence they desired from Mr. Yoshida. Mr. Yada stated that the police had wished to arrest Prince Konoye but had not dared because of fear of foreign and domestic repercussions. They did seize many people surrounding the Prince and got what information they could from them.

These facts were reported to Count Makino by Mr. Yada, and the Count advised Prince Konoye to leave Tokyo at once—which he did, going by car to Odawara.

Mr. Yada spoke of a letter which he wrote to the Prince after the surrender, strongly criticizing the Government on three points:

First, the reported intention of the Cabinet to ask Prince Konoye to represent Japan in China as head of a mission of “apology or conciliation”. Mr. Yada pointed out that this was an improper policy, that it was time to act and not to talk. He recommended that the Prince stop this movement, and if he were asked to head such a mission to refuse. At this time the Higashi-Kuni31 Cabinet fell and Mr. Yoshida became Foreign Minister, whereupon Mr. Yada gave the above facts to Mr. Yoshida.

The second point was objection to the use by Cabinet members and other Government officials of phrases such as “end of hostilities”, “end of the war”, etc. and not the use of frank language which indicated the fact of unconditional surrender. Mr. Yada urged the Prince to tell the people that Japan was defeated and had surrendered unconditionally. If these facts were not made known to the people, Mr. Yada felt it would take a long time to reconstruct Japan.

Third, Mr. Yada expressed his opinion that Mr. Shigemitsu32 should not become Foreign Minister since he was author of the policy of “Asiatic cooperation”; that his whole career was against him; and that he gave the wrong impression both to the people and Occupational authorities.

He said that Prince Konoye did not reply to the letter but when he saw him at a meeting Prince Konoye thanked him for taking the trouble to write. Mr. Yada then recalled that in September of 1943 he had told Count Makino that the only way out of the war was unconditional surrender. Count Makino apparently was surprised by the statement but did not make comment. Mr. Yada stated that he made similar statements to a number of other leaders which led Count Makino to ask Mr. Yada to come to see him. He told him that he must [Page 409] be careful, that what he was recommending was not pleasing to some of those in power and might cause him difficulty.

Mr. Yada then stated that since the Occupation began most thinking Japanese approved the directives and the over-all policies. He felt that he was in a position to appreciate the United States’ foreign policies vis-à-vis Europe and the Orient and felt they were fair. This was a prelude to his remark that on some minor points he felt the directives had been in error and that these mistakes could have been avoided. He gave two examples: First, that an Occupational authority spokesman had stated that a Mitsubishi official had bribed or given a large sum of money to Tojo.33 After investigation, this allegation proved erroneous, and the matter made a very unfavorable impression on many Japanese. Second, he felt there were a number of mistakes in the January 4 directive relating to the list of individuals and organizations as cooperating with the military. He said that the directive referred to the “Governor General of Indo-China”, but that there was no such Japanese official, that Japan had only an Embassy there. He pointed out that the Japanese noticed these errors and that they had an unfortunate effect.

Mr. Yada stated that he would be happy to be of service to the Occupational government and said that Makino, Shidehara,34 and Matsudaira35 could speak for him. Prince Konoye had told him that he had spoken to Occupational authorities about Mr. Yada’s qualifications soon after the Occupation began.

Karl C. Leebrick
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in covering despatch 280, February 26, from Max W. Bishop of the Office of the Political Adviser in Japan; received March 6.
  2. Shichitaro Yada.
  3. October 4, 1945: see telegram 31, October 10, 1945, from the Acting Political Adviser in Japan, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vi, p. 739.
  4. December 6, 1945; see footnote 12 to despatch 79, November 30, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vi, p. 976.
  5. Count Nobuaki Makino, former Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, member of the House of Peers; Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal until December 1935.
  6. Shigeru Yoshida, member of the Japanese House of Peers, 1940, and former Ambassador in the United Kingdom; Minister for Foreign Affairs, September 17, 1945.
  7. Count Aisuke Kabayama, member of the Japanese House of Peers, 1932.
  8. Prince Naruhiko Higashi-Kuni, Japanese Prime Minister, August 17–October 9, 1945.
  9. Mamoru Shigemitsu, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, 1943–April 5, 1945, and August 17–September 17, 1945; he signed the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945.
  10. Gen. Hideki Tojo, Japanese War Minister, July 22, 1940, and Prime Minister, October 18, 1941–July 18, 1944.
  11. Baron Kijuro Shidehara, Japanese Prime Minister, October 9, 1945.
  12. Tsuneo Matsudaira, former Japanese Ambassador in the United Kingdom; Minister of the Imperial Household, 1936–June 9, 1945.