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

4229. Presidential visit. For Secretary, Stephens and Asst Secy Parsons. CINCPAC exclusive for Felt and POLAD, COMUS/Japan exclusive [Page 357] for General Burns. This message gives our present estimate of (1) Japanese domestic political situation: (2) security treaty; (3) Japanese-American relations; and (4) President’s visit.

I. Domestic political situation.

As result of developments since June 4, position of Kishi has undergone serious deterioration. While as reported Embtel 40461 Ikeda’s action in coming out publicly in support of Kishi at beginning of June helped Kishi insofar as immediate Conservative Party factionalism was concerned, over-all domestic political picture remained very confused, with Diet paralyzed, events which since then have led to Kishi’s rapidly declining prestige include:

Socialists’ ability to get away with illegal strike on June 42 with no protest from public or press and no punishment for illegal strikers coupled with inability of Kishi to arouse public opposition to subsequent massive demonstrations by leftists which have included some use of force and violence;
The tremendous and well-orchestrated propaganda barrage directed against Kishi by pro-Communists and their sympathizers including Japanese intellectual, university and school teacher community which anti-Kishi press gleefully front-paged, coupled with Kishi’s well-known lack of any personal popularity;
Resurgence of factionalism within Conservative Party by anti-mainstream greatly encouraged by (A) and (B);
But perhaps above all, impression Kishi has given to public in past ten days of ineffectiveness and inability to cope not only with political crisis but with public disorders, particularly anti-Hagerty incident which shocked Japanese.

As a result of foregoing, it is generally agreed (even by some of Kishi’s supporters) that he has become focal point of blame for everything that is wrong in Japan, and therefore he must step down and the sooner the better. We share view that Kishi’s position is now so impaired that he cannot continue on long as Prime Minister and that domestic political picture probably cannot be straightened out until Kishi at least announces that he will step down after treaty ratification.

However, question of who will succeed him remains as obscure as ever and it is difficult to believe that Kishi will announce that he will bow out until he is reasonably satisfied as to who will follow him. I have been told by someone close to Kishi that he has been rolling with the punches these past days waiting for Yoshida to return and will not decide [Page 358] anything till he has talked matters over with Yoshida who arrived back in Japan yesterday.

Two most likely successors to Kishi for reasons set forth in Embtel 41143 seem to be (A) Ikeda (despite all-out opposition of Kono) from so-called “strongmen” of party, and (B) Ishii from so-called “interim” PriMin group. While Yoshida could make a strong bid if he is so inclined, there is no evidence as yet that he wants Prime Ministership himself although he clearly envisions “genro” (elder statesmen). With Japanese people confused and looking for leadership, Yoshida’s voice could be very useful if he chooses to speak to people. (Am meeting with him privately Friday morning.)4

From viewpoint of our own interests Ikeda (who sees eye-to-eye with Kishi and Yoshida on imperative necessity for Japanese American partnership) would seem best successor to Kishi because we doubt Yoshida is robust enough to take on job for more than few weeks. Ishii is of course very friendly to US but lacks energy and decisiveness of Ikeda.

II. Security treaty.

Despite political crisis, Kishi and majority of LDP Diet members still take position that ratification of treaty should be completed before end of June.

While until two days ago plan was to secure ratification several days before President’s arrival, present plan is for Diet recess from about June 18–22. Following which automatic upper house ratification might be allowed to take place June 22 or 23 or debate in upper house by LDP Diet members might be continued and treaty passed after several days (Embtel 4178).5 Kishi still maintains firmly that he will not step down or even promise to step down until treaty has actually entered into effect with exchange of ratifications. Fujiyama said to me today that Kishi wanted exchange of instruments of ratification soonest and on assumption our Senate would act June 16 inquired whether we could exchange instruments by June 24 or 25. I replied in affirmative.

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Meanwhile anti-mainstream now smelling Kishi blood is strongly pressing proposition that Kishi now declare he will resign after Diet ratification is completed and that there then should be Diet dissolution with MSW elections before ratification instruments are exchanged thus delaying entry into effect of treaty. While this proposition has considerable appeal to Democratic Socialists and also appeals to some LDP, I believe Kishi will almost certainly reject it. However, if before upper house ratification Kishi should promise to resign after treaty enters into effect, substantal elements of anti-mainstream would agree that treaty should enter into effect before Kishi resignation and Diet dissolution. Personally I now believe upper house ratification possible (probably through automatic procedure) about June 23 with exchange in instruments of ratification a day or two later if our Senate has also acted.

III. Japanese-American relations.

Japan is target number one in Asia for Moscow and Peking which seek first to neutralize and eventually to absorb Japan. To achieve this objective Communists have launched giant political and propaganda offensive against Japan, an important element of which is to cause Japanese people to believe that their ties with America will lead to war and atomic destruction. Unfortunate U–2 incident was propaganda bonanza for Communists and there seems little doubt they have succeeded to some extent in causing Japanese people to reflect on dangers of war in relation to security arrangements with US. While propaganda from Moscow and particularly Peking has, over past months, been strongly anti-American, it has only been in last two weeks or so that Japanese Communist and pro-Communist supporters and stooges have come out with open anti-Americanism. It seems clear pro-Communists thought time was ripe to transform anti-pact and particularly anti-Kishi campaign into massive anti-American campaign, in part by trying to portray US as only force that kept Kishi in power. However, use of force by Communists and Socialists, culminating in Hagerty incident and their naked espousal of anti-American campaign have boomeranged and caused respected leaders and even pro-leftist press to come out with stern warnings to Socialists and others against their anti-American campaign. Socialists sensing public opposition to anti-Americanism ran for cover, issuing stream of statements that they were not anti-American and wanted friendship with US and today Sohyo reportedly says it will not demonstrate against President at airport or on motorcade route. There is little doubt that tide has turned strongly since last Friday6 airport incident and that great majority of Japanese people are now seriously concerned over efforts of leftists to stir up anti-Americanism. This concern became many times magnified as result of “Hagerty incident” [Page 360] which shocked and “shamed” overwhelming majority of population. And in Japanese language word “shame” like word “insincerity” has its own special meaning.

To summarize, we do not think feeling of friendship toward US on part of great majority of Japanese has been basically impaired as result of political crisis and anti-American campaign of pro-Communists. Indeed as result of shock of airport incident and reports of very adverse reaction in America, press is carrying many articles indicating imperative necessity to Japan of friendly cooperative America in trade, security, and other fields, reminding Japanese people that Japan would not now stand restored were it not for our postwar cooperation and help. Japanese business community and Japanese military are particularly concerned over and opposed to anti-American campaign. However, while basic friendship of Japanese people towards US is not affected, pro-Communists have established a precedent for future use of force against US. However, in view of public indignation, it seems unlikely (except from unpredictable Zengakuren) that they will use violence against us unless over-all situation should turn strongly to their advantage. However, Japanese Communists will almost certainly organize some protest demonstrations against President’s visit.

Finally, we agree with qualified observers that majority of Japanese support concept of security ties with US. We believe that because of inept way GOJ has explained and handled treaty debate, there is little understanding of treaty’s provisions or real meaning for Japan and much confusion over what it is all about. Until Japanese leadership explains clearly to people that basic issue involved in treaty is whether Japan stands with US or is forced into neutralism and eventual absorption by Communists, there will continue to be considerable confused thinking which will be exploited by Communist propaganda although Communists have hurt their own cause by resort to anti-American violence.

In conclusion let me emphasize again that great majority of Japanese remain stable, industrious, and middle-of-road people. If GOJ stands firm against pressures of pro-Communist elements, and on assumption there will be reasonable solution to present crisis including question of Kishi’s successor, there is no reason to believe that long-term stability of Japan should be affected by events of past four weeks. Indeed there are many serious Japanese who say that there has been too much complacency in Japan and lack of knowledge of forces at work here which are trying to destroy democracy and that while recent events, particularly Hagerty incident, are deplorable, they have served to awaken Japanese people to certain dangers which they had tended to ignore or underestimate. Therefore they are actually better off by knowing now than they would be if showdown had not occurred.

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Such success as pro-Communist forces in Japan enjoyed initially in recent weeks has not stemmed primarily from strength of pro-Communist minority but rather from certain underlying deficiencies in other sectors of national life such as press, intellectuals, trade unions, business leadership, and above all factionalism with LDP. These deficiencies are discussed and analyzed in separate telegram.7

IV. President’s visit.

As result of failure of GOJ to pass treaty through Diet during regular session with ensuing crisis and serious deterioration of Kishi’s position, timing of President’s visit, as we all recognize, is not what we would have wished. On other hand, as long as Japanese and our security authorities believe President’s security is not threatened and that prospect is for relatively mild rather than violent demonstrations, preponderant feeling among Japanese political and business leaders is that it is better for President to come than to appear to back down in face of pro-Communist pressures and threat of demonstrations. Our estimate is that while man-in-street regrets that President’s visit coincides with political crisis which will cast somewhat of cloud over visit, at same time he feels it too late to postpone or cancel visit, and therefore believes all Japanese should extend President warm and hearty welcome. There seems little question that majority of Japanese seem to believe that because of “shame” which has fallen on Japanese because of Hagerty incident it is up to Japanese to give President even better welcome than normal to demonstrate to US that Japanese people reject anti-Americanism. Many prominent individuals, organizations, including even left-of-center DSP and Zenro, together with press, have come out with statements strongly calling on everyone to extend time. He feels it too late to postpone or cancel visit and therefore believes all Japanese should extend President warm and hearty welcome. As result there is real change in political and psychological climate and, as noted above, reports that Socialists and Sohyo are backing away from idea of demonstrations at airport and on cavalcade route. In any event Japanese are taking extensive security measures and have instructed police to use any measures necessary including force to cope with demonstrations.

Estimate of effect of visit and recommendations.

Our present estimate is that effect of President’s visit will not, of course, achieve emotional lift we had originally hoped for, because of present political crisis here. However, it will nonetheless serve extremely useful purposes:

Very fact that President is coming has already resulted in cooling of political temperature and what we hope will be political truce [Page 362] during his visit leading to solution of present political crisis. This will benefit elements in Japan which believe in Japanese-American partnership.
It will be much more difficult for pro-Communists to whip situation into frenzy again after cooling off period and in light of sober reflection and soul-searching which press and public are now undergoing.
Japanese people admire courage. Fact that President refused to back down in face of pro-Communist threats is admired by Japanese.
President’s visit to Japan will be substantial defeat for Communists, who have used virtually all weapons at their disposal to try to prevent visit because they feared very presence of President would have stabilizing effect on political situation here and at same time would undermine their nationwide anti-American campaign.


In light of extensive security arrangements which Fujiyama outlined to me (see immediately following telegram)8 and new Japanese spirit of determination to use any and all measures necessary to safeguard President and prevent serious disturbances which would mar trip; Japanese security people here are convinced President’s safety can be assured and since there is new determination on Japanese side which our security people have noted; and in view of substantial and favorable change in political and psychological atmosphere here re visit; my considered recommendation is that President’s visit should go ahead as now planned with detailed itinerary which White House people have worked out with Japanese authorities.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–EI/6–1560. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Transmitted in three sections and repeated to Manila, CINCPAC, and COMUS/Japan.
  2. Telegram 4046 from Tokyo, June 7, reported that the domestic political situation remained confused, despite the fact that Ikeda had declared publicly that “he strongly opposed resignation of Kishi government or dissolution of Diet until security treaty had been ratified and entered into effect.” (Ibid., 611.947/6–760) See Supplement.
  3. See Document 170.
  4. In telegram 4114 from Tokyo, June 10, MacArthur reported that although Kishi was expected to step down after the ratification of the security treaty, there was no consensus as to who would succeed him. Ikeda, Kono, Sato, and Miki were mentioned as “strongmen” of the LDP; Ohno, Matsutani, and Ishii were considered possible interim Prime Ministers; but Ikeda appeared to be the most likely successor. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.947/6–1060) See Supplement.
  5. MacArthur did not see Yoshida on Friday June 15 but on Monday June 20. Telegram 4324 from Tokyo, June 20, describes the meeting. (Department of State, Central Files, 794.00/6–2060) See Supplement.
  6. In telegram 4178 from Tokyo, June 13, MacArthur reported that Ikeda had informed him that the Japanese Government was considering the possibility of a Diet recess from June 17 to 23, thus delaying the date of the ratification of the security treaty. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–EI/6–1360) See Supplement.
  7. June 10.
  8. Reference is to Telegram 4231, June 15; See footnote 3, Document 190.
  9. In telegram 4230 from Tokyo, June 15, MacArthur described Japanese security measures in detail. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–EI/6–1560) See Supplement.