by 西 鋭夫 May 6th, 2018
RECORD OF EVENTS ON 13 FEBRUARY 1946 WHEN PROPOSED NEW CONSTITUTION FOR JAPAN WAS SUBMITTED TO THE FOREIGN MINISTER, MR. YOSHIDA, IN BEHALF OF THE SUPREME COMMANDER.
The undersigned, accompanying General Whitney, arrived at the official residence of the Foreign Minister at 10:00 a.m. sharp. We were ushered by Mr. Shirasu, Assistant to the Foreign Minister, through to a sun-porch where we found awaiting us Mr. Yoshida, the Foreign Minister, Dr. Matsumoto, Minister without Portfolio and Chairman, Constitution Revision Committee of the Cabinet, and Mr. Hasegawa of the Foreign Office, who interpreted. The table from which they had just arisen was littered with papers and notes, apparently referring to the Matsumoto draft constitution which had been previously submitted for General Whitney's consideration.
General Whitney sat with his back to the sun, affording best light on the countenances of the Japanese present who sat opposite him. The undersigned sat next to General Whitney also facing the Japanese. General Whitney at once throttled any discussion of the Matsumoto draft by saying slowly, weighing every word: "The draft of constitutional revision which you submitted to us the other day, is wholly unacceptable to the Supreme Commander as a document of freedom and democracy. The Supreme Commander, however, being fully conscious of the desperate need of the people of Japan for a liberal and enlightened Constitution that will defend them from the injustices and the arbitrary controls of the past, has approved this document and directed that I present it to you as one embodying the principles which in his opinion the situation in Japan demands. In order that you gentlemen may understand fully the contents of the document to which I will hereafter further allude, my officers and I will now withdraw to permit you freely to examine and discuss the same".
At this statement of General Whitney, the Japanese officials were obviously stunned -- Mr. Yoshida's face particularly manifesting shock and concern. The whole atmosphere at this point was charged with dramatic tenseness.
General Whitney then turned to the undersigned and requested the drafts of the constitution. Copy No. 6 was handed to Mr. Yoshida, copy No. 7 to Dr. Matsumoto, copy No. 8 to Mr. Hasegawa, and copies Nos. 9 to 20 inclusive, were given to Mr. Shirasu who signed a receipt for all of them.
At 10:00 o'clock General Whitney and the undersigned left the porch and went out into the sunshine of the garden as an American porch and went out into the sunshine of the garden as an American plane passed over the house. After about fifteen minutes Mr. Shirasu joined us, whereupon General Whitney quietly observed to him: "We are out here enjoying the warmth of atomic energy".
It was observed that before Mr. Shirasu left the sun-porch each member of the Japanese party had read the draft Constitution closely, and that Mr. Yoshida and Dr. Matsumoto would refer to various parts of the draft and confer concerning the proposal.
At 10:40 o'clock Mr. Shirasu was called back into the conference of the two ministers and a few minutes later came out to inform us that the ministers were ready, whereupon we re-entered the porch and resumed our original places.
Through his interpreter Dr. Matsumoto said that he had read the draft and understood it but that it was so vastly different from their own draft that it would be necessary to present it to the Prime Minister before any statement could be made by him.
At this time it was noted that Dr. Matsumoto's explanatory notes on his own draft had all been picked up and put back into an envelope and that they were not again touched during the conference. The fact of the Foreign Minister was dark and grim and his expression did not change during the balance of the conference while General Whitney talked. The face of the interpreter remained a complete blank during the entire proceedings. However, it was observed that he was having physical difficulty in speaking and constantly wet his lips. Dr. Matsumoto listened to everything which was said by General Whitney with the utmost concentration but he kept looking at the other members of our group and never directly at General Whitney. Mr. Yoshida gazed intently at General Whitney with an occasional side glance that swung until it would reach the eyes of one of the undersigned, when it would immediately shift back. During the remarks of General Whitney, Mr. Shirasu scribbled copious notes with a pencil.
After Dr. Matsumoto's opening remarks concerning his complete understanding of the draft Constitution, General Whitney said that he would speak very slowly and that if Dr. Matsumoto did not understand him at any point he would welcome interruptions because he wanted to be certain that Dr. Matsumoto, as well as Mr. Yoshida, understood every word that General Whitney uttered. Before the interpreter could interpret this to Dr. Matsumoto, Dr. Matsumoto said that he understood what General Whitney was saying but he would like to know if there were available any written explanations of the Constitution. General Whitney replied that there were no written explanations available, but that the instrument by its terms was so clear that it was hardly susceptible to misunderstanding and that it spoke for itself.
General Whitney then proceeded: "Now that you are familiar with the contents of this instrument, gentlemen, and in keeping with my hope that all of us will place our cards face up on the table, I want to explain to you somewhat of the spirit and the considerations which have prompted the Supreme Commander to submit this document to you. He has observed various party platforms recently published having for their primary purpose constitutional reform, and he has observed a growing consciousness on the part of the people of the need for constitutional reform. It is his purpose to see that the people get constitutional reform.
"As you may or may not know, the Supreme Commander has been unyielding in his defense of your Emperor against increasing pressure from the outside to render him subject to war criminal investigation. He has thus defended the Emperor because he considered that that was the cause of right and justice, and will continue along that course to the extent of his ability. But , gentlemen, the Supreme Commander is not omnipotent. He feels, however, that acceptance of the provisions of this new Constitution would render the Emperor practically unassailable. He feels that it would bring much closer the day of your freedom from control by the Allied Powers, and that it would provide your people with the essential freedoms which the Allied Powers demand in their behalf.
"The Supreme Commander has directed me to offer this Constitution to your government and party for your adoption and your presentation to the people with his full backing if you care to do so, yet he does not require this of you. He is determined, however, that the principles therein stated shall be laid before the people -- rather by you -- but, if not, by himself. By this instrument he has thus, gentlemen, offered Japan, a nation in defeat, the opportunity to assume moral leadership among the other nations of the world toward lasting peace.
"General MacArthur feels that this is the last opportunity for the conservative group, considered by many to be reactionary, to remain in power; that this can only be done by a sharp swing to the left; and that if you accept this Constitution you can be sure that the Supreme Commander will support your position. I cannot emphasize too strongly that the acceptance of the draft Constitution is your only hope of survival, and that the Supreme Commander is determined that the people of Japan shall be free to choose between this Constitution and any form of Constitution which does not embody these principles."
During all the time that General Whitney talked, Mr. Yoshida rubbed the palms of his hands slowly, back and forth, along his trousers. General Whitney spoke with great deliberation, intense conviction, and with a profound solemnity which obviously made a deep impression upon the Japanese party. As he concluded, General Whitney observed that Dr. Matsumoto had not once been required to resort to the use of his interpreter in order to understand his remarks. Dr. Matsumoto replied that he understood fully all that General Whitney said but that he could not answer General Whitney until the matter had been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister and he had had an opportunity to consider and discuss the draft Constitution. However, Dr. Matsumoto said that there was one point upon which he was not clear. Through his interpreter Dr. Matsumoto then discussed the provision for a unicameral legislature.
Dr. Matsumoto, pointing to the provision in the draft Constitution concerning the Diet, said that he noted that a single House was provided for and that, since this was so completely foreign to the historic development of the Japanese legislative body, he wondered what thoughts had actuated this provision.
General Whitney replied that, in view of the expected abolition of the Peerage, a House of Peers was unnecessary and that it was thought that a single House legislative body under the checks and balances set up in other parts of the Constitution provided the simplest form for adoption; that the situation in Japan was not comparable to that in the United States where the Senate was established for the purpose of giving the citizens of the several states, regardless of size or population, equal representation as a check upon the political control by majority representation in the House of Representatives of the larger and more populated states.
Dr. Matsumoto then said that most other countries have a two House system to give stability to the operation of the legislature. If, however, only one House existed, said Dr. Matsumoto, one party will get a majority and go to an extreme and then another party will come in and go the opposite extreme so that, having a second House would provide stability and continuity to the policies of the government. General Whitney then said that the Supreme Commander would give thoughtful consideration to any point such as that made by Dr. Matsumoto which would lend support to a bicameral legislature and that, so long as the basic principles set forth in the draft Constitution were not impaired, his views would be fully discussed. General Whitney reiterated that it was not his intention to imply that the draft Constitution must be accepted in its entirety but only that all of the basic principles contained in the document must also be provided for in any Constitution that the Supreme Commander would support. Dr. Matsumoto then said that he thought the discussion had gone as far as it could to-day.
The Foreign Minister, Mr. Yoshida, thereupon addressing himself to General Whitney stated that it would be necessary to present the entire matter to the Prime Minister, and that he would like to arrange a further meeting on the question after the Prime Minister and the Cabinet had been consulted. General Whitney then stated: "Mr. Minister, your desire to present this matter to other members of your government and for the time with which to study the several provisions is, of course, understandable and I have every confidence that it is as much your wish as it is that of the Supreme Commander that this matter be given preferential treatment over all other business. The Supreme Commander is determined that this constitutional issue shall be brought before the people well in advance of the general election and that they shall have full opportunity freely to express their will on constitutional reform. General MacArthur is prepared, as I stated before, to leave the sponsorship of the document to your government with his firm approval, but failing in that, if necessary, he is prepared to lay it before the people himself. This Constitution represents the principles which the Supreme Commander and the Allied Powers are willing to accept as a basis for the government of Japan because the principles enunciated in this document provide a basis for free democratic government in Japan and for carrying out the terms of the Potsdam Declaration".
Turning to the undersigned, General Whitney asked if there was anything we desired to add and, upon receiving negative replies, General Whitney said to Mr. Yoshida: "For your convenience, I have left with you fifteen copies of the document and shall await your pleasure as to our next meeting. I assure you that my officers and I will hold ourselves entirely in readiness to meet your convenience".
The Foreign Minister stated that he hoped we would preserve secrecy in the matter, to which General Whitney replied: "Secrecy, Mr. Minister, had throughout been preserved as it will continue to be, for your convenience and protection, not for that of the Supreme Commander. Good-day, gentlemen, thank you for this privilege of meeting with you. I shall expect to hear form you later."
As General Whitney rose to depart he asked Mr. Shirasu for his hat and gloves. Mr. Shirasu, who is normally a very calm and debonair person, was so flustered that he first started for an anteroom near the entrance of the house and then, remembering that he had placed our caps and gloves in the library adjacent to the sun-porch, rushed back again, procured General Whitney's cap and gloves and showed visible indication of extreme nervousness as he handed them to General Whitney.
Whereupon at 11:10 o'clock the undersigned accompanied General Whitney from the premises.
Milo E. Rowell
Lt. Col., AUS
Alfred R. Hussey