170. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State 0

4040. CINCPAC and HICOM for POLADs. Embtel 4008.1 Following is our preliminary and tentative report on and estimate of effect of Sohyo-called general strike June 4:

Strike of railway workers which lasted from 4 am to 7 am went off without hitch and caused considerable inconvenience to commuters. There were no reports of any major violence and no serious adverse reaction of public has yet been evident.

Since strike was actually illegal but nonetheless was pulled off as advertised without serious public adverse reaction, Sohyo and Socialists are claiming it as great victory and are contemplating another similar but more widespread strike on June 17 or 18. On other hand, Govt is claiming victory, pointing out: (a) that there was no enthusiasm or revolutionary fervor on part of strikers (indeed some of railway operators would not have joined strike unless they had been abducted by Sohyo); (b) that public did not support strike and reason it did not react adversely was because strike was in early morning and only lasted three hours; (c) that even pro-Socialist Asahi has strongly condemned strike and that Nishio Democratic Socialists have also made public statements strongly opposing and condemning it; (d) that stock market which dropped before strike recovered immediately after conclusion of strike June 4; and (e) while Socialists claim five-and-half million participated, public security info agency reports that only 750,000 were involved.

It is still too early to gauge longer term effect of strike on Japanese people. We believe on balance Socialists and Sohyo came out a shade better because they successfully pulled off an illegal strike without strong public reaction and are encouraged to try it again on broader scale about June 17. On other hand, if press and Democratic Socialists continue to condemn such political strikes, Socialists may not actually try it again June 17, and indeed if they do it is possible but not certain that Japanese public, which accepted one such exercise, will itself become increasingly critical.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 894.062/6–660. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to COMUS/Japan, CINCPAC, and HICOMRYIS.
  2. Telegram 4008 from Tokyo, June 3, described Sohyo’s plans to disrupt severely transportation during morning rush hours in Tokyo and other major cities. Zengakuren students, the telegram continued, were expected to demonstrate. (Ibid., 894.062/6–360)