740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–548

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

No. 145

Sir: I have the honor to refer to this Mission’s despatch No. 109 of February 18, 19481 and to previous correspondence in regard to meetings of the Allied Council for Japan, and to forward as enclosures2 [Page 681] five copies each of the Agenda and Corrected Verbatim Minutes of the fifty-third meeting of the Council held on March 3, 1948.

There was one official matter on the Agenda, “Regarding the New Japanese Government”, proposed for discussion by the Acting Soviet Member. The Acting Soviet Member opened the discussion by reading from a prepared statement. He emphasized the importance to Japanese democratization of the change in cabinets and said that the Katayama Cabinet and previous cabinets had done nothing to improve economic conditions in Japan and that in fact the situation was becoming more acute. This crisis had resulted, he claimed, from the fact that throughout the Occupation no conditions were created which would allow the Japanese people to form a government representative of a majority of the people and empowered to implement really democratic reforms. He then asserted that the Shidehara, Yoshida, and Katayama Cabinets had all contained ministers who should have been excluded from public office in accordance with Allied policy and Occupation directives; as ministers subject to purge in the Katayama Cabinet, he named Ashida Hitoshi, Nishio Suehiro, Morito Tatsuo, Miki Takeo, Hitotsumatsu Sadayoshi, and Hatano Kanae. Thereupon he began an attack on the record of Dr. Ashida. (A copy of the Acting Soviet Member’s statement, which he subsequently distributed to the press, is enclosed.3

At this point I interrupted the reading of the Acting Soviet Member’s statement and ruled that his remarks were out of order. In the ensuing discussion, I supported my ruling by stating that the Allied Council was not the proper place for an examination of the qualifications of government officials and that an attack upon individuals now under consideration for posts in the Japanese Government constituted an interference with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people in violation of the Potsdam Declaration and other statements of Allied and Occupation policy. I pointed out that machinery had been duly established to administer the purge and any relevant information should be conveyed to the appropriate authorities. I stated that there is no authority in any of the controlling documents for the Allied Council which allows members to interfere in the selection of a new cabinet.

The Acting Soviet Member insisted that this ruling was in violation of the right of Council members to express their opinions and requested the views of the other members. The Member for China stated that he agreed with the Supreme Commander—from whose public statement on the formation of a new Japanese cabinet I had previously read—that the solution of internal political issues is primarily the [Page 682] responsibility of the representatives of the Japanese people. The British Commonwealth Member concurred that the Council should not examine into the qualifications of individual political leaders and should not interfere with the democratic processes of the Japanese Government; he further stated that the Allied Council in the present situation could properly urge the early formation of a new coalition government and should assure itself that the terms of the Japanese Constitution, the provisions of the Terms of Surrender, and the policies of the Occupation are properly executed.

In conclusion, I emphasized that the Acting Soviet Member was at liberty to express his views, provided that his remarks were in conformity with the general principles for which the Allied Council was established. As the Acting Soviet Member continued to insist that he should be allowed to complete his statement, regardless of content, I adjourned the meeting.

Respectfully yours,

W. J. Sebald
  1. Not printed.
  2. Enclosures not printed.
  3. Not printed.