740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–148

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

No. 129

Sir: I have the honor to report that this Mission will, in the near future, submit to the Department a series of studies looking to what [Page 670] we consider a desirable reorganization of the Occupation of Japan and to present, in the present despatch, a general survey of the scope of the series of projected studies.


As a basic premise, the Mission is concerned with the apparent desirability for transformation of Occupation emphasis from that of exercising operational functions, to advisory and inspecting functions, and with preparation of material which may be of use should the Department desire to evolve a broad directive to bring about such transformation. Apart from purely military occupational problems, the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) has become intimately involved in Japanese governmental operating functions; the extent of such involvement will be an object of inquiry in this series of studies.

Although the Occupation has stemmed from a purely military operation, principles of broad scope to govern the Occupation were laid down in directives of the surrender and immediate post-surrender period. Military inception has inevitably guided the subsequent growth and evolution of the Occupation in the pursuit of these principles. We believe that the stage has now been reached where the Occupation in its present form retards rather than enhances the accomplishment of the principles themselves. In consequence, it would appear that a careful segregation of military and non-military functions of the Occupation is now necessary. Where the militarily-minded Occupation has heretofore not hesitated to enter directly into operating functions in an effort to bring about changes suggested by the basic principles, it now appears desirable and necessary to anticipate greater autonomy in the Japanese Government and to shift Occupation emphasis and duties to assistance, observation, and inspection.

This transformation appears to make desirable the setting up of a civilian deputy to the Supreme Commander to take charge of the non-military activities of the Occupation, and to become himself the ranking supervisory authority for the terms of the peace settlement when the Supreme Commander is withdrawn. Meantime, during the separation of military and non-military activities, the military forces would have as their principal functions tactical duties, policing and enforcement duties, surveillance duties, and logistic duties for the entire Occupation.

In preparing these proposals the Mission has borne closely in mind the statement made in Washington before the Far Eastern Commission by the United States member on January 21, 1948. The need for revival of the Japanese economy on a peaceful, self-supporting basis, [Page 671] and the need for steps to insure that the Japanese Government and people energetically and effectively prepare and implement plans under which Japan can become self-supporting, have motivated this despatch and the series of studies to follow. Reduced costs to the United States, increased self-sufficiency to Japan, and the steady growth of a peaceful democratic Japan are equally sought.


The naming of a civilian deputy to the Supreme Commander might presumably be accomplished without further international clearing; but it would seem preferable that the concurrence of the Far Eastern Commission nations be sought and obtained. While the Department is the authority in dealing with the Commission and may be better informed, it would appear from here that the Commission would not object to the appointment of a United States civilian as deputy to the Supreme Commander.


The Mission is of opinion that the transformation proposed is practicable without relation to the time of an eventual peace settlement. The intercourse of the Occupation with the Japanese Government and people is in any event ripe for a segregation of the non-military from the military and for a withdrawal from purely operational functions into the advisory and inspectional. Regardless of possible delay in the peace settlement, we believe that the shift is desirable. The preponderant position of the United States in the Occupation in fact offers some favorable opportunity of effecting, by guidance, changes which cannot be anticipated as equally open to consummation with the conclusion of peace. Irrespective of length of the time elapse before the peace settlement, the proposed civilian deputy to the Supreme Commander would receive instructions only through the chain of authority now applicable to the Supreme Commander; policy decisions by the Far Eastern Commission and interim instructions of the United States Government would continue to be referred to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the issuance of directives. If the Far Eastern Commission is continued in function by the peace settlement its policy decisions might be communicated much as before, except that the channel would presumably become the Department of State rather than the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the fact that the functions of the civilian deputy should by then have become exclusive, with the withdrawal of the Supreme Commander, would not entail any administrative contradictions. If the United Nations or a United Nations agency should by the settlement displace the Far Eastern Commission in function, the chain would likewise be unaffected.

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It should be observed that, so far as the questions here discussed relate to post-treaty United States representation in Japan, the Mission inclines strongly to the view that diplomatic representation should be kept carefully separate. In a situation in which treaty enforcement might involve international interests and a complex international chain of authority, it would appear essential that the Government of the United States be represented in Japan by an officer whose competence is clear and whose instructions and reports are direct. The experience of the Diplomatic Section as an integral part of General Headquarters is sufficient proof of this need. The further fact that a protracted enforcement of the peace terms might involve actions distasteful to the Japanese, primarily pressed by countries other than the United States, is additional reason for the independence of diplomatic representation.


In the present organization of headquarters it might be natural to expect that the division between military and non-military functions follows the division of functions between General MacArthur on the one hand as Commander in Chief for the Far East (CINCFE), in which as an officer of the United States holding the Far East Command (FEC) he is in charge of United States forces in occupation, and General MacArthur on the other hand as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, in which capacity he is an international authority. The organizational problem, however, is not so simple. As Supreme Commander, part of his duties are military. Furthermore, certain of the staff sections set up as FEC staff sections in fact also perform SCAP functions. This applies, for example, to all the general staff sections (G–1, G–2, G–3 and G–4); there are no G sections set up as SCAP sections. The lack of fit between practice and theory is so far recognized that in the directory used by General Headquarters, FECSCAP segregation is not attempted.

The military personnel and Department of the Army civilian (DAC) personnel employed in the SCAP and FEC sections of this Headquarters total 4,352 persons (figures used are as of February 1, 1948, since when changes have been slight). This does not include: 2,055 persons (almost entirely Japanese) in those sections who are paid from the Occupation account of the Japanese Government; personnel of the Headquarters and Service Group (2,216 military plus 449 DAC plus 5, 154 paid from Occupation, total 7,819), which looks after housing, billets, messes, motor pool, post exchanges, et cetera; nor certain units classified as installations (employing 584 military, 809 DAC, 2,923 paid from Occupation, total 4,316), of which the largest is the Civil Censorship Detachment (124 military, 336 DAC, 2,182 paid from Occupation, total 2,642).

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Leaving to the military, in making a division between military and non-military functions, the maximum number of sections and units with which the civilian deputy to the Supreme Commander would not wish to be and should not be concerned, the following are the sections remaining, with personnel as of February 1, 1948:

Personnel, February 1, 1948
Section Military officers Enlisted Men DAC Paid from Occupation Aggregate
Civil Communications 7 1 85 2 95
Civil Information and Education 14 24 202 323 563
Civil Property Custodian 16 19 255 189 479
Civil Transportation 1 2 47 0 50
Diplomatic and Allied Council for Japan (State payroll not included) 2 3 12 1 18
Economic and Scientific 33 40 589 527 1189
Government 15 9 98 0 122
Legal 30 17 220 332 599
Natural Resources 16 1 132 116 265
Public Health and Welfare 12 2 56 22 92
Reparations 7 0 73 14 94
Statistics and Reports 3 2 55 18 78
Translator and Interpreting Service 60 192 400 443 1095
Totals 216 312 2224 1987 4739

It will be noted that the largest section is the Economic and Scientific Section (ESS). An early despatch will present a study of the possible amenability of ESS functions to the proposed shift from operational to advisory and inspectional functions, particularly with regard to foreign trade. Another despatch will present a study of the desirable transfer of functions of the Government Section (GS), which has just commenced a process of gradual dissolution. Other studies in the series will be devoted to the remaining sections listed above with the same end in view wherever practicable.


The occupying units, for example, the 8th Army, have their complete organizations separate from and additional to the Headquarters of General MacArthur in his capacity as United States Commander in Chief for the Far East. In attempting to draw more distinctly the line between military and non-military functions it is probably desirable to remove from the Headquarters in Tokyo all functions and personnel which are susceptible of being moved in the direction of the occupying [Page 674] forces. However, such reorganization possibilities and consequent personnel economies are a Department of the Army matter and are not the concern of the present proposals. The local governmental contact of the Occupation (Military Government) is fairly compact, is concerned particularly with local problems, and probably ought to be retained for some time.

It should be the effort of the civilian deputy to interfere as little as possible in discharge by the military of their duties, including those, such as logistics, performed for the Occupation. Separation is of the essence of the plan.


The Occupation principles contained in the directives of the time of the surrender and immediately thereafter have in practice come to be exceeded. In the field of politics, what began as an effort to eliminate the authority and influence of those who misled Japan into militarism has latterly become, in any instance thought sufficiently important, frank direction of what the Japanese Government should be and do. There has been no interference where the course pursued has been satisfactory; but, closely watching the progress of events, there has been no hesitation to intervene to prevent an undesired decision. Not less than 90% of the bills passed by the last Diet were Government Section bills, and it was a matter of common knowledge among the members that Headquarters desired their passage. (With time running close toward the end of the previous session of the Diet, two members of Government Section went personally on the floor and into the lobbies to make clear the insistence of Headquarters that certain bills pass.) More recently, the Central Screening Committee kept bringing private word to Headquarters that it seemed best to compromise the Hirano1 issue and not find him ineligible for office, but word kept going back to try again, and he was finally thus purged. Most recently of all, Headquarters followed with the closest scrutiny the discussions among Diet members in the matter of determining upon a successor to Prime Minister Katayama, and we are convinced that if the Diet had been about to select Yoshida Shigeru as Prime Minister, Headquarters would have intervened to prevent that choice.

These are examples only, and many more could be cited in proof of what seems to us perfectly clear: that Occupation contact with Japanese politics has, up until the present, entailed actual operations in politics for motives or reasons which are difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain.

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In the field of economic affairs there can be not the slightest doubt, realized fully by the Japanese also, that Headquarters has become so directly involved in operations that individual Japanese companies and business men must and do present themselves at Headquarters in an effort to obtain even minute decisions necessary to carry on their enterprises. This will be particularly discussed in the study of the Economic and Scientific Section.


The Civil Censorship Detachment should be abolished. In our opinion, censorship has overstayed its usefulness in Japan, and now the fact that there is a censorship is a discomposing and doubt-raising factor among the populace, more harmful than the small gains resulting from its continued imposition. It would appear that the permanently necessary contribution of the censorship to intelligence can readily be absorbed by the continuing intelligence agencies. With the approaching end of the major war crimes trials before the international tribunal it also appears clear that the sections concerned therewith should likewise be abolished (the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, 43 military, 60 DAC, 41 paid from Occupation, total 144; and the International Prosecution Section, 9 military, 66 DAC, 155 paid from Occupation, total 230).


It is our considered conclusion that a withdrawal by the Occupation from participation in Japanese operational activities is a necessary step toward a self-supporting, peaceful and democratic Japan. Basic Occupation principles are in fact retarded by present procedures and attitudes. Change to a civilian regime in the maximum holds, we believe, the best promise of breaking with the existing complications.

The civilian deputy to the Supreme Commander should rank with the Chief of Staff in the military hierarchy. In the chain of command, the division between military and non-military functions would take effect immediately beneath the Supreme Commander, the Chief of Staff thenceforth being concerned only with the military. The office of Deputy Chief of Staff for SCAP would be abolished and his functions would be performed under the civilian deputy. The civilian deputy’s office should be in the Dai Ichi Building and near General MacArthur’s office; his secretariat would logically be made up from the Diplomatic Section. The individual to occupy the position of civilian deputy should be proposed by the Department of State.


Diplomatic Section should absorb the vestigial performance, by a limited number of officers within it and taken into it, of functions remaining [Page 676] from abolished offices. It should in the course of time become the Headquarters’ Political Section. It should be the agency of contact with the Japanese Government and should perform such functions of Government Section as require permanent performance. With this end in mind, DS should add to its staff in the near future a few officers taken over from other sections, including GS, for the purpose of maintaining continuity with important matters with which the Political Section must necessarily be concerned.


The transformation contemplated would allow of considerable reductions in staff in line with the shift away from operational activities. The quantitative measure of such reductions can be more aptly considered in the individual studies to be subsequently submitted. Two studies now nearing completion will discuss the Economic and Scientific Section (with special reference to foreign trade) and the Government Section (with special reference to the program of exclusion from office) in their bearing upon desirable reorganization of the Occupation.

The considerations set forth in the present despatch are introductory and by nature hypothetical. If individual studies in the series hereafter tend to different conclusions, the Mission will not hesitate to alter the basic principles herein tentatively formulated.

Respectfully yours,

W. J. Sebald
  1. Rikizo Hirano, Japanese Minister of Agriculture and Forestry who resigned in November 1947.