740.00119 FEAC (Info)/1–347: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Political Adviser in Japan (Atcheson)

confidential

5. This is FEC 3. Urtel 553, Dec 24.2 Following may help to explain FEC attitude regarding legislation implementing or supplementing constitution:3

New constitution had large gaps to be filled in by subsequent legislation which would then become part of new constitutional structure. Some members of FEC (probably majority, although vote never taken) considered constitution unacceptable unless FEC could review implementing legislation in same manner as had reviewed constitution itself, to determine if inconsistent with Potsdam Declaration and policy decisions of FEC. General opinion was that FEC may pass policy decisions with respect to implementing legislation prior to, during, or subsequent to consideration of legislation by Diet. US Govt interposed no objection to this view. At same time members of FEC believed that, as in case of constitution, it would be very much better to require amendments or alterations to legislation, if such deemed advisable by FEC, before rather than after enactment by Diet, because if amendments required after enactment Allies would lay themselves open to accusations of interference with free will of Japanese people and prestige of SCAP, who would have to order amendments, might be injured. Therefore FEC desired that draft implementing legislation, either in Japanese or English, be made available to it at earliest possible moment after drafting or after submission to Diet.

Consequently on August 24 and again on September 19 US representative on FEC assured Commission that draft legislation would be filed with FEC by US Govt. With this understanding objections of some members of FEC were removed and drive for disapproval of constitution was avoided. On September 24 General McCoy wrote [Page 157]Acting SecState4 explaining situation, naming draft laws desired and concluding “These might be requested from the Supreme Commander5 for filing with the Commission as the first step in honoring our commitment”. It is understood that in accordance this request War Dept sent several telegrams to SCAP re making draft legislation available to FEC. On November 30 SCAP telegraphed (SCAP’s 67693) “drafts of laws implementing new constitution will be forwarded air courier after introduction in Diet as requested”. First bill introduced Diet December 3 but only received in English translation by FEC on December 27, too late for changes to be made by informal action of SCAP should changes be desired. Japanese text not yet received. Presumably changes if necessary can now only be made by order of SCAP to next Diet session, which might be embarrassing to SCAP. Hence Australia and New Zealand desired that passage of bills be delayed.

Australian member served notice December 30 in Constitutional Reform Committee that he will bring up in full Commission general question of treatment, which he termed “gross breach of faith”, accorded FEC by SCAP in connection with implementing legislation.

Byrnes
  1. Not printed.
  2. See annex to memorandum by Assistant Secretary of State Hilldring, December 16, 1946, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. viii, p. 375.
  3. Maj. Gen. Frank R. McCoy was U.S. member of the Far Eastern Commission and also its Chairman; for letter, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. viii, p. 317.
  4. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Japan.