156. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State0

3785. CINCPAC and HICOMRYIS for POLADs. Embtel 3775.1 Funada came to see me this morning to discuss treaty passage by lower house including its aftermath in terms domestic political situation.

Funada said GOJ strategy calling in police following Socialist resort to force and then voting in quick succession to close debate in treaty committee, extend Diet, and ratify treaty was really the only way to handle situation. To have wavered would only have made the problem worse, particularly in making it necessary to call police in to Diet again when treaty was voted. He confirmed, however, that top LDP leadership was not entirely confident it would have sufficient support within [Page 298] ranks to manage vote on treaty when it did (reftel). Socialist resort to violence and, perhaps even more so, DSP’s boycott of vote on extension (in contrast its professed support of parliamentarianism) caused many LDP Diet men to support quick vote who might otherwise have favored delay. He said more than 250 LDP members (an absolute majority of lower house) voted for treaty which was unusually impressive.

Funada said motivation for boycott of vote on treaty by Kono and Miki purely political, i.e. their long-standing determination to weaken Kishi by all available means. He noted that Socialists and press are making strong demands for general election on treaty issue. He said that, in principle, Kishi and LDP leaders would have liked to have general election on treaty since basic electoral issue could then be whether Japan would be aligned with the US or with Russia. This would have been useful as giving proof Japanese people support alignment with US and new treaty and would clear air and stabilize Kishi regime. However, leadership has avoided this course believing that consequent delay in accomplishing ratification would have been effectively exploited by Communists and created impression of doubt re US-Japan relations. He added that Socialist talk of “mass resignations” is absurd. It may sound all right as propaganda but many individual Socialists would fear being defeated.

As to future, Funada said with treaty approval now assured, demands for Kishi to step down will grow stronger both within LDP and without. While late October or early November had been in prospect for election of party president, sentiment is growing within ranks to settle issue and have election much sooner, that is, not long after Diet closes in mid-July. He said that, while very capable, experienced and courageous, Kishi unfortunately is not popular and some still attack him for having been member of Tojo cabinet.2 Public has now developed general image in thinking of Kishi, just as with leaders like Yoshida and Hatoyama,3 and it is to his great disadvantage that Japanese youth, intellectuals, and the press are particularly critical of his past association with Tojo and war.

Funada said that in some ways it might be in Kishi’s own best interest to step down. In light of the events in Korea, Kishi must avoid any impression that he is determined, like Rhee, to hang on indefinitely as Prime Minister, come what may. However, Funada freely admitted there is as yet no logical successor to Kishi. Ono and Masutani are too old and are inexperienced in international affairs; Ishii is pleasant but [Page 299] indecisive; Ikeda is capable but not noted for breadth of vision. In short, while he anticipates growing sentiment for Kishi to step down, Funada has no answer to the problem of a successor, but he believes Kishi is now facing great difficulties insofar as future of Kishi government is concerned.

Returning to the treaty, Funada said that with Socialists boycotting Diet (Embtel 3786)4 upper house Special Treaty Committee not meeting today although it would normally have done so. Funada commented that since upper house approval of treaty is no problem (only thing which would upset 30-day rule is Diet dissolution which government has no idea of doing), just as well to go slowly in upper house and let atmosphere cool a bit. Plenary session of upper house is scheduled to vote on Diet extension next Monday.5 However, even if upper house fails to act, extension of Diet by lower house is binding under Japanese procedure.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.947/5–2160. Confidential. Repeated to COMUS/Japan, CINCPAC, and HICOMRYIS.
  2. Document 155.
  3. Hideki Tojo (1884–1948), Lieutenant General and Prime Minister of Japan, 1941–1944, was tried by the International Military Tribunal at the end of the war, convicted of war crimes, and hanged.
  4. Ichiro Hatoyama, Prime Minister from 1954 to 1955.
  5. Telegram 3786 from Tokyo, May 21, reported tentative JSP agreement on the following program of action: the JSP would boycott all Diet proceedings, call on Speaker Kiyose to resign, and arouse popular sentiment favoring Diet dissolution. (Department of State, Central Files, 794.00/5–2160)
  6. May 23.