General of the Army Douglas MacArthur to the Japanese Prime Minister (Yoshida)46

Mr. Prime Minister: Last year at this time the Japanese people were confronted with a serious food crisis which disrupted the entire economy and brought severe hardships to the people. In this emergency, the United States shipped substantial quantities of food to Japan which enabled the Japanese people to escape widespread starvation.

Food imports have been scheduled for Japan again this year in order to supplement indigenous supplies and to meet the essential minimum requirements of the Japanese people. However, I must advise you that these food imports are calculated on a minimum basis and presuppose the maximum utilization of these supplies.

To maximize collections of food into official channels and to bring about a proper transfer of food from surplus to deficit prefectures so as to achieve continuation of food rationing are clear responsibilities of the Japanese Government.

At this time I wish to call to you[r] attention Directive No. 3, which I issued to the Imperial Japanese Government on 22 September 1945.

This directive made it the responsibility of the Japanese Government to maintain a firm control over wages and prices and to initiate and maintain a strict rationing program for essential commodities in short supply so as to insure that such commodities are equitably distributed.

It is imperative that the Japanese Government carry out this responsibility to the Japanese people. The Allied Powers, of course, are under no obligation to maintain or to have maintained any particular standard of living in Japan, nor is there any responsibility to import foodstuffs to meet deficits arising from the failure of Japan to assure the just and efficient distribution of its own food supplies.

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The food problem, though basic to the peaceful reconstruction of Japan, is not an isolated phenomenon, but is on the contrary only one part of the overall problem of economic stabilization which includes the additional factors of increased production of raw materials and industrial products, stabilized wages and prices, maximum exports, and sound public finance.

By the same token, black marketing of food and failure to realize full collections are only two manifestations of general maldistribution.

These problems are so inextricably inter-woven that it is not practical to think in terms of a solution for one independent of the others.

What is required is an integrated approach across the entire economic front. Accordingly, it is essential that the Japanese Government, through the Economic Stabilization Board which was created for this purpose, take early and vigorous steps to develop and implement the integrated series of economic and financial controls which the current situation demands. These economic objectives are national in scope, transcending the special interests of any group, and therefore should be non-partisan.

Unless determined measures are undertaken at once by the Japanese Government, the inflationary condition of the economy together with its attendant maldistribution of food and other necessities, will become increasingly serious, industrial recovery will be further retarded, and the achievement of the social and political objectives toward which the Japanese people have made such an encouraging start will be endangered.

The social and economic welfare of Japan will depend largely on Japan’s own efforts in the redirection of its human and natural resources to peaceful living and upon competent public administration of democratic and effective economic controls.

Aid to Japan cannot be expected upon a scale sufficiently great to overcome maldistribution and inflation within Japan. Outside assistance is contingent upon full utilization of indigenous resources, which is entirely a responsibility of the Japanese Government.

Sincerely yours,

Douglas MacArthur
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 1112, June 14, from Tokyo; received June 30. The despatch transmitted also a copy of the Japanese Government’s statement on its economic program, dated June 11 (not printed).