Report by the Acting Political Adviser in Japan (Bishop)27


Meeting of General MacArthur With Members of the Allied Council for Japan

Participants: General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur.
Members of the Allied Council for Japan.

Subject: General Election in Japan: Letter of Instruction to the Japanese Prime Minister

General MacArthur called the Members of the Allied Council to consult with him at his office at 11 a.m. on February 7, 1947. In addition to General MacArthur, those present were: Max W. Bishop, [Page 178] Chairman pro tempore and representative of the Member for the United States; Lieutenant General Chu Shih-Ming, Member for China; Lieutenant General Kuzma N. Derevyanko, Member for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, who was accompanied by two interpreters; and Mr. E. E. Ward, who was designated by Mr. W. MacMahon Ball, Member representing jointly the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India, as his representative.

General MacArthur in opening the discussion stated that he had asked the members to come in order to obtain any comment they might have on a letter which he proposed to send to the Japanese Prime Minister. General MacArthur then read the following letter:

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I believe the time has come for a general election. Momentous changes in internal structure, in economic outlook, and in the whole fabric and pattern of Japanese life have occurred since the last general election nearly a year ago. It is necessary, in the near future, to obtain another democratic expression of the people’s will on the fundamental issues with which Japanese society is now confronted. In this way we will once more advance in the process of democracy which now governs this state. The exact time and details are matters which I leave to the discretion of the Japanese Government, but the election should take place as soon as practicable after the close of the present session of the diet so that a new legislative body may initiate and synchronize with the introduction and effectivation of the new constitution. The past year has been one of accomplishment. I look with equal confidence to the future.

Very sincerely,

Douglas MacArthur.”

After reading the letter General MacArthur called on each of the members in turn for his comment. Mr. Bishop, General Chu, Mr. Ward and General Derevyanko each in turn expressed views in full accord with the letter which General MacArthur had read. Thus there was complete unanimity of agreement that it was desirable to issue such a directive to the Japanese Government regarding the holding of a general election.

In discussing the matter with the Members, General MacArthur pointed out inter alia that this action was an administrative one made necessary to assure a new diet and a new expression of the will of the Japanese people in synchronization with the coming into effect of the Constitution; that the action in no way reflected upon the present Diet which had done, on the whole, a good job; that the present Japanese Cabinet had not taken the initiative in calling such an election; that the matter of timing had been left flexible in order to assure a sufficient period for the Japanese people to acquaint themselves with the problems at issue and to express their free opinion; that being an administrative action, it was important once the decision had been [Page 179] made, that it be carried out promptly in order that it not interfere with the functioning of Government; and that he was glad to have the comments of the Members of the Council.

General Derevyanko after expression agreement requested some additional time to consider details. Upon General MacArthur’s explanation of the urgency of the matter, General Derevyanko made no further request for delay. General Chu expressed his view of the importance of timing the coming elections and expressed complete concurrence in General MacArthur’s flexible program.

After asking the Members if there were any other matters which they wished to discuss, General MacArthur cordially invited each one to call upon him at any time to discuss any matter.

The foregoing record was prepared by the Chairman pro tempore immediately upon conclusion of the meeting.

Max W. Bishop

Chairman pro tempore and
Representative of the
Member for the United States
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 952, March 31, from Tokyo, which noted that “no objection to the Supreme Commander’s letter and proposal to hold a general election was raised by any Member of the Council.”