1. Editorial Note

In the 1958–1968 decade, the U.S. Government approved four covert programs to try to influence the direction of Japanese political life. Concerned that potential electoral success by leftist political forces would strengthen Japanese neutralism and eventually pave the way for a leftist government in Japan, the Eisenhower administration authorized the Central Intelligence Agency before the May 1958 elections for the Japanese House of Representatives to provide a few key pro-American and conservative politicians with covert limited financial support and electoral advice. The recipient Japanese candidates were told only that they were getting support from American businessmen. This program of modest financial support to key politicians continued during subsequent electoral campaigns into the 1960s.

Another U.S. covert action in Japan sought to reduce the chances that extreme left-wing politicians would be elected. During 1959, the Eisenhower administration authorized the CIA to institute a covert program to try to split off the moderate wing of the leftist opposition in the hope that a more pro-American and “responsible” opposition party would emerge. This program’s financial support was limited—$75,000 for 1960—and it continued basically at that level through the early 1960s. By 1964, key officials in the Lyndon Johnson administration were becoming convinced that because of the increased stability in Japanese politics, covert subsidies to Japanese politicians were no longer necessary. Furthermore, there was a consensus that the program of subsidies was not worth the risk of exposure. The subsidy program for Japanese political parties was phased out in early 1964. Meanwhile, a broader covert program, divided almost equally between propaganda and social action and designed to encourage key elements in Japanese society to reject the influence of the extreme left, continued to be funded at moderate levels—$450,000 for 1964, for example—throughout the Johnson administration.