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

No. 118

Sir: I have the honor to report that Prime Minister-Designate Ashida Hitoshi, at his own request, informally called upon me today [Page 666] in my capacity as Chief of the Diplomatic Section, General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, with a view to apprising me of the policies which he hopes to pursue after having formed a Cabinet. Dr. Ashida stated that he had today called upon General MacArthur and subsequently upon Brigadier General Courtney Whitney, Chief of the Government Section, and was assured both by General MacArthur and by General Whitney of their support. He stated that his relations with the Government Section had always been most cordial and that he has never experienced any difficulties from that quarter.

In discussing the question of forming his Cabinet, Dr. Ashida stated that he does not anticipate any particular difficulty in this regard in view of the support of the so-called left-wing Socialists who, he said, are wholeheartedly in favor of the new Cabinet. It was Dr. Ashida’s impression that the leaders of the left wing are chiefly concerned with being allocated important posts in the Cabinet. He said that the present propaganda which is being circulated by certain Socialist left-wing elements is merely to “cover up” their rather contradictory action in having forced the resignation of the Katayama1 Cabinet and now agreeing to support a new coalition Cabinet under the leadership of the Democratic Party.2

As a matter of interest, there is enclosed copy of a statement3 which Dr. Ashida said he read to General MacArthur today. The statement purports to contain the chief policies which will be followed by the new Cabinet. These policies are summarized as follows: (1) to build up a new Japan worthy of world trust; (2) to enhance the democratization process and social stability; and (3) to push economic reconstruction.

Of particular interest is the explanation contained under the heading of economic reconstruction. It is stated therein that priority will be given to key industries and “the Government will be prepared to take over control of such industries in case of necessity”. It should also be noted that Dr. Ashida has declared support for all labor organizations of moderate tendency, that he is of the belief that “Communism and extreme political views are inimical to the healthy growth of democracy”, and that “firm steps will be taken to combat” Red elements.

[Page 667]

Dr. Ashida also stated that for the time being he expects concurrently to hold the Foreign Minister’s Portfolio in view of the difficulty which he foresees in selecting an individual of sufficient experience suitable for this post. He stressed that his chief aim will be to cooperate wholeheartedly with the aims of the Occupation and with American national policies vis-à-vis Japan, but added that it would be unrealistic for any Government to act otherwise.

Respectfully yours,

W. J. Sebald
  1. Despatch 170, March 17, from Tokyo, reported a conversation with Tetsu Katayama, who resigned on March 10 as Prime Minister. He wished to prevent the Social Democratic Party, of which he was head, from splitting over the question of cooperating with the Communist Party. (894.00/3–1748)
  2. Airgram 55, March 26, from Tokyo, reported on the dissolution of the Liberal Party and formation of the Democratic Liberal Party under Shigeru Yoshida, with former Baron Kijuro Shidehara as supreme adviser; this was the conservative group opposing the liberal group led by Prime Minister Ashida. (894.00/3–2648)
  3. Not printed.