136 Legation in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 320 WASHINGTON, 20 March 1946, 6.52 p.m.

SECRET

JAPANESE CONSTITUTION

1. F.E.C. decided on 20th March on the following statement on the Japanese Constitution [1]-

'The Commission has received from the United States Government the text of a draft constitution which appears to have been drawn up in compliance with an Imperial rescript the text of which has also been supplied by the United States Government along with the Supreme Commander's comments on that text.

The opening sentences of this draft indicate to the Commission that it will be presented to the first Session in the Japanese Diet which will be chosen at the forthcoming general elections.

[2] The Commission therefore assumes that this and possibly other texts will be debated in the Diet and that amendments may be ordered and perhaps other proposals introduced.

The Commission therefore desires that the Supreme Commander keep it informed of the progress and development of this and other drafts that may be considered by the Diet.

Far mindful of its responsibilities under its terms of reference for the formulation of policy in regard to the implementation of the surrender terms and of the important bearing which this or any other proposed changes in the Constitutional structure of Japan may have upon the decisions in carrying out that responsibility the Commission desires that the Supreme Commander for the Allies make clear to the Japanese Government that the Far Eastern Commission must be given an opportunity to pass upon the final draft of the Constitution to determine whether it is consistent with the Potsdam Declaration and any other controlling document before it is finally approved by the Diet and becomes legally valid.

The Commission believes that in this way hasty action by the Japanese Diet will be prevented and time given for all elements inside and outside the Diet to consider this very important question and bring to th[at] consideration all available thought produced by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people.

In this connection the Commission notes the encouragement given to the Japanese people in the Supreme Commander's announcement that this draft of proposed constitution has his personal approval. It is somewhat apprehensive that this approval may be misunderstood by the Japanese public and taken to mean that this particular draft has the approval of the Powers represented on this Commission.

As such is not necessarily the case and as the Commission does not want to take any action in regard to this or any other draft constitution that might prejudice Japanese public opinion for or against any proposal of th[is] nature it considers that the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers should in some appropriate manner make it known to the Japanese people that while this draft of a proposed constitution is a document of obvious merit and is available now for consideration and study the fact that it is a draft prepared by the Government does not preclude favourable consideration of other proposals or drafts which may be submitted to the Diet for study and comparison.

The Commission requests that the United States Government inform the Supreme Commander of its views as expressed above and since the Constitutional Issue is one that is likely to influence the votes of the electors it does so with a minimum of delay.' 2. The text sent to the United States Government for directive to be sent S.C.A.P. in accordance with III(1) of Commission's terms of reference. [3] Suggest foregoing be sent immediately to Macmahon Ball to give him advance notice and let him check on accuracy of J.C.S. [4] transmission to MacArthur.

1 On 8 March Eggleston had reported publication by the Japanese Govt of a draft constitution, which had been 'hailed in glowing terms by MacArthur' without consulting the F.E.C. Eggleston had proposed to move at the F.E.C.'s next meeting on 14 March that, since constitutional changes fell within the terms of reference of the F.E.C., a new constitution should be submitted to it and approved before promulgation; and that the Japanese people should be informed that MacArthur's endorsement of the draft did not mean that these were the only proposals acceptable to the Allied powers.

2 Held on 10 April.

3 See Document 6.

4 The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (or the U.S. War Dept as their executive agency) acted as the official channel for all communication between SCAP and the U.S. Govt and its agencies.

[AA:A3195, 1946, 1.7148/47]