Department of Defense files

The Joint Chiefs of Staff to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, at Tokyo22

War 91201.

The following communication from the Far Eastern Commission forwarded through its Chairman under the provisions of paragraph VI of its terms of reference, is transmitted to you at the request of the State, War and Navy Departments:

“The Far Eastern Commission is making a study of the Draft Diet law and requests the Chairman to convey to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers the substance of the following communication and also to state to him that the Commission would appreciate his views on the following matters.

1. Chapter 7. Ministers of State and Representatives of the Government. Articles 69 to 73.

To assist Japan in developing along democratic lines, it is desirable that the position of the Legislature be strengthened as much as possible. This is particularly important both in a system of responsible cabinet government such as that contemplated under the new constitution, and in the light of Japanese experience in the past, where the Diet was subordinate in fact to both the Cabinet and the Bureaucracy.

In raising the following point, the Commission has had in mind the problems which must inevitably arise in the framing of a new constitution based upon a variety of democratic practices. In this connection, the provisions of chapter seven would appear to indicate that the drafters of this bill may have in mind the former system in Japan where the Ministers of State were not expected necessarily to [Page 175] be present in the Diet and to take full responsibility for leadership of its debates.

Article 69 would appear to allow the appointment as ‘representatives of the government’ of persons who are not members of the Diet. It is queried whether it is desirable for a representative of the government other than a Minister of State or a member of the Diet to have the right to speak before the Diet. Where the Executive is responsible to the Legislature, it is the universal practice that ministers themselves, or members of the Legislature appointed as their parliamentary deputies, should be present in the House to explain and defend the actions of their departments and the legislation they are sponsoring, and that they themselves should participate in debates. If persons other than members of the Diet were allowed to attend and speak in the place of ministers, it might be contrary to the principle of cabinet responsibility to the Diet inherent in the Far Eastern Commission policy laid down in FEC–031/19. (Serial number 54, approved 6 July 1946).23

In making the foregoing comments, the Commission is not raising an objection to the right of any committee to hear any person it desires, including government employees and private individuals.

2. Article 35. Allowance of Diet members.

The Commission is uncertain as to the effect of the provision linking the allowances of Diet members to the salaries of government officials, as ‘Kanri’ may be interpreted, and in the context may be intended, to include all appointed officials of the national government, even those of the highest rank such as the Chief Justice. Would this provision be likely to prevent adequate remuneration being offered to those holding the most senior and important government posts?”

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department of State by SWNCC in its SWN–5123, February 7; copy also transmitted by General Hilldring to the Far Eastern Commission on February 11.
  2. For text, see SCAP, Report of Government Section: Political Reorientation of Japan, September 1945 to September 1948 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 661.