740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–1447: Telegram

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


59. This headquarters PRO will issue press release Tokyo time 10:30 Wednesday morning, 19 March, as follows:

Under heading “Substance of remarks to Allied Council of Ambassador George Atcheson, Junior, Chairman and United States member, in regard to American attitudes toward the occupation as observed on his visit to the United States”, Mister Atcheson said:

“The Supreme Commander has suggested that I lay before the Council my observations during my recent visit to the United States as to the general attitudes and opinions of American governmental officials and the American people in regard to the Allied occupation of Japan. I am very glad to do this.

General. I was privileged to have an opportunity to discuss the occupation and some of its problems with a number of the highest officials of the United States Government. As I recently stated to the press, the American Government is solidly behind the Supreme Commander. Also in discussions with a wide variety of people in different parts of the United States I gained a definite impression that the American people as a whole are much gratified at the progress of the occupation and are giving General MacArthur their fullest support. The American people are proud of what the Supreme Commander has accomplished; they are proud of the Allied occupation; they look upon the occupation as a bright spot in a troubled world and one where wholehearted Allied cooperation can achieve Allied goals to the benefit of the entire world.

There was not as complete news coverage of events and developments in Japan as I should like to see in the American press. But I found among the American people at large a very keen interest in our problems here and also what seemed to me to be a very common sense attitude toward both the present and the future. There is very naturally a feeling among the American people that the Japanese must prove themselves. So far, the American people are impressed by the spirit of cooperation which the Japanese have shown and by the energy and diligence of the average Japanese in working to rehabilitate his life and the economic life of this country. The great difficulties facing the Japanese are appreciated. American commercial firms, [Page 187] notably those who previously have had interests in this part of the world, are prepared to assist in practical and mutually beneficial ways in the development of the peace time economy in Japan and in international trade. This readiness can be, I think, encouraged by Japanese determination to do everything possible to make the most of their commercial and economic resources, including labor, and the development of productive cooperation between capital and labor. American businessmen, as well as the rest of the American people, hope for and look forward to a peaceful and prosperous world. American businessmen desire to do their part in furthering the establishment of peaceful and prosperous relationships between all countries. But American businessmen seeking markets for American goods abroad or for foreign products to sell in the United States have grown through experience to be much more hardheaded than they sometimes have been in the past. They do not seek large profits. They seek the development I of sound business—but they cannot be expected to speculate or sink money into enterprises when stability and reasonable security are lacking. Workable and stringent steps by the Japanese to control inflation in general, and practical progress in such specific problems as the establishment of a fair and realistic relationship between prices and wages could, it was felt, do much toward this end.

I found a general realization among those interested in the occupation that Japanese industrialists must be informed without delay what plants are to remain so that they can produce goods for their own peace time needs and for export to pay for necessary imports for food and greatly needed raw materials and other essentials to ordinary life. When this question is settled—and I hope that it will be very soon—Japanese economy can make a considerable stride forward if Japanese industrial interests and workers are willing, as I think they are, to put forward their best efforts to revive peace time production.

While speaking of the general attitude of the American people,40 I might add that my impression is that most of them have an objective and non-emotional attitude toward Japan. While they do not forget, they are not vengeful and their eyes are turned to the future. They expect Japan to be given access to the resources of raw materials and exports of other countries for Japan’s peacetime needs; they expect the Japanese to do their share in the eventual development of mutually beneficial economic exchanges with other countries. The American people expect the Japanese people to fashion Japan into a truly democratic and cooperative member of the commonwealth of nations. Effective Japanese political and economic efforts to this end will continue to meet with favorable American interest and assistance.

Allied Council for Japan. I was interested to find how closely the proceedings of this Council are followed by persons of high place in the United States. I had the privilege of meeting with the Far Eastern Commission and while its proceedings are as you know confidential, I am sure that there is no breach of faith if I tell you that the members take a very keen interest in what goes on among us here. I heard expressed [Page 188] a general view that the Council affords the Allies represented here a favorable opportunity to voice constructive advice and suggestions for consideration by the Supreme Commander to assist him in his tremendous task, so important to all of us, in showing the Japanese people and nation the way to becoming a democratic, peace-loving member in good standing of the United Nations.

General strike. I was in the United States at the time of the recent threatened strike of Japanese Government employees. I heard considerable surprise expressed that in the midst of severe economic crisis, unions of government employees should contemplate a strike which would be ruinous to Japanese economy. People in general seem to feel that the Japanese deserve help if they are willing to help themselves. Opinion was unanimous in supporting General MacArthur’s intervention and stoppage of the strike.41 A number of people considered that a good deal of ground has been lost in healing the wounds of war as a result of a situation engendered by the strike threat and the endeavors, as reported in the press, of some of the misguided strike leaders to circumvent the Supreme Commander by appealing to members of the Allied Council.

The strike threat was generally regarded in the United States as purely political in purpose and not motivated by the natural desire of the workers to bring about improvements in their conditions of living or to work needed reforms in the bureaucracy which has had a feudalistic stranglehold on much of the governmental machinery of this country. The union members were regarded as dupes and tools of the aggressive minority which in so many cases has been manipulating unions in this country for selfish and ulterior political purposes. The Japanese are considered in the United States to be a very patriotic people and any action taken by individual Japanese or Japanese groups which is harmful to Japan in this period of economic emergency causes both surprise and concern—concern because it causes Americans to wonder whether, with all their organizational genius, the Japanese people are capable of organizing a peacetime economy and of integrating themselves into the new post-war world. I believe that the Japanese people are in fact capable of achieving these objectives.

Trade unions. I encountered condemnation of the wide tendency on the part of Japanese trade unions, in their new-found freedom, to place emphasis upon political aims. Gratification was expressed that such rapid progress had been made in the organization of labor unions but it seemed generally felt that the unions in Japan are somewhat lacking in discipline, fail to appreciate the full obligations which unionization entails and appear to be concerned too unilaterally with the rights which are granted to union organizations. As you know, encouragement of union organization so that unions can bargain in an orderly way for the just rights labor was one of the earliest actions of the Supreme Commander. In consonance with the general sentiment of the American people, the United States Government felt that one of the first freedoms to be given the Japanese people should be the [Page 189] right to organize unions and protect the rights of workers which had been largely suppressed. The American Government expected that the newly-created unions would contribute much to the democratization of Japan. It is felt now that the Unions themselves must adopt democratic practices and become truly democratic bodies if they are to make such contribution.

Education. The several educators with whom I spoke were in full accord with the direction given by the Supreme Commander in the decentralization and liberalization of the Japanese educational system. These educators were of the opinion that Japan’s future lies largely in its young people who are now in school and who are beginning to receive a liberalized education which is, in addition, teaching them how to think. There was some feeling that the Japanese educational authorities could take more determined steps to hasten the process. One step I heard mentioned was the improvement of the livelihood of the teachers and related measures to make the teaching profession sufficiently attractive so that it could be assured of always attracting capable and zealous people.

I heard hope expressed that the problem of language simplification would be solved by the Japanese in a common-sense and workable way as it is felt that only in this manner could the Japanese take full and equal advantage of the great literature and scientific knowledge of the Western World.

The new constitution. The American people are also much gratified with the progress toward democratization of Japan as revealed in their new constitution. They look forward with interest to the forthcoming elections which will provide the Japanese people with opportunity to select their representatives for the Parliament which is to operate under this constitution when it comes into effect.”

  1. In telegram 61, March 17, the Political Adviser in Tokyo indicated that the phrase “In conclusion” had been substituted for the foregoing words, and that this paragraph had been shifted to the end of the statement (700.00119 Control (Japan)/3–1747).
  2. For General MacArthur’s statement of January 31, 1947, calling off the threatened general strike, see Political Reorientation of Japan, p. 762.