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

No. 127

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Foreign Service Regulations and to enclose copies of a letter dated February 24, 1948, addressed to General MacArthur,1 and of a reply dated February 27, 1948, which I handed to Mr. James C. Y. Shen, of the Central News Agency of China, Tokyo, in my capacity as Chief of the Diplomatic Section of this Headquarters and Chairman, Allied Council for Japan. My reply was made at the request of General MacArthur, who personally approved the answers as submitted.

Respectfully yours,

W. J. Sebald

Reply on Behalf of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur


My Dear Mr. Shen: In response to the questions raised by you in your letter of February 24, 1948 to General MacArthur,1 I am pleased on his behalf, to reply as follows:

Question No. 1: Is a resurgence of militarism possible in Japan, once the Occupation is ended? Is prolonged armed occupation necessary or sufficient to prevent it? If not, what is necessary and essential?

Answer: Japan has been completely disarmed; its armed forces are completely demobilized, military equipment has either been destroyed or turned into scrap, arsenals and dockyards have been or are being rapidly dismantled. The physical equipment for any possible military force simply does not exist. By Japan’s unconditional surrender the Japanese people have been taught that militarism is a costly undertaking which defeats its own ends and brings suffering and disillusionment to its proponents. In my opinion, a resurgence of militarism in Japan is physically impossible for generations. In consequence, it does not appear necessary to continue indefinitely an armed occupation.

Question No. 2: What are the thorniest problems facing the occupation authorities?

Answer: It appears axiomatic that Japan can not be a peace-loving democratic nation unless, through its own efforts, guided and assisted [Page 669] by the Allied nations, it is enabled to become self-sufficient in its economy and is able to exchange goods—raw materials and manufactured—with countries having such raw materials and which are able and willing to engage in such peaceful exchange. So long as countries refuse to engage in a peaceful interchange of goods with each other, so long will the economy of the Far East as a whole remain out of balance. I therefore believe that a serious and sincere effort on the part of all Allied nations to find a common ground for negotiation of the peace is essential.

Question No. 3: Has democracy come to stay in Japan? Can a proper leadership for post-occupation Japan finally evolve from among the various existing parties?

Answer: My answer to both questions is “Yes”. I do not believe that a people who have tasted the fruits of democracy and who themselves are part and parcel of the democratic process would again willingly revert to their former slavery. Under the watchful guidance of the Occupation, the political parties of Japan have grown and have nurtured and practised democratic concepts. Leadership is coming to the fore among the many young men and women who have been given an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities. I am confident that with further encouragement, guidance, and understanding from all the Allies, democracy in Japan is here to stay.

Question No. 4: Does Communism have a chance to spread in japan?

Answer: Communism, the extreme left, is equally as bad as the extreme right. It is a creed of desperation which feeds upon hunger, hardship, and hopelessness. The Japanese have already thrown out the extreme right; given a reasonable chance to become a self-respecting, peace-loving, democratic nation, I am convinced that the Japanese will likewise refuse to accept Communism as a system.

Sincerely yours,

W. J. Sebald

Chief, Diplomatic Section and Chairman, Allied Council for Japan
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