by 西 鋭夫 May 6th, 2018
Letter from Jiro Shirasu to General Whitney, dated 15 February 1946
(The "jeep way" letter)
February 15th, 1946.
Brig. General C. Whitney,
The Government Section,
G. H. Q.,
My dear General,
As you seemed to have been a little interested in my few remarks, when I ran into you at the G. H. Q. building yesterday, I venture to write you, at random, more of my impressions about the way your draft was received by Dr. Matsumoto and others in the Cabinet.
I must say your draft was more than a little shock to them. Dr. Matsumoto was quite a socialist in his young days and still is a whole hearted liberal. Notwithstanding the doctor's qualifications (none could survive his term of a law professorship, the leading one at that!, if easily shocked and surprised !) your draft came as a great surprise. He realises that the object of your draft and his "revision" is one and the same in spirit. He is as anxious as you are, if not more as after all this is his country, that this country should be placed on a constitutional and democratic basis once for all as he has always deplored the unconstitutionality of the nation. He and his colleagues feel that yours and theirs aim at the same destination but there is this great difference in the routes chosen. Your way is so American in the way that it is straight and direct. Their way must be Japanese in the way that it is round about, twisted and narrow. Your way may be called an Airway and their way Jeep way over bumpy roads. (I know the roads are bumpy !) Dr. Matsumoto described his impressions as under:
I think I appreciate your standpoint well and I must confess I have a great admiration for it as I have for so many things American. I still am an ardent admirer of Lindbergh's flight across the "uncharted" Atlantic, for the first time and unaided. But Alas! Lindberghs are so rare and far between even in America. I do not know if we ever had one in this country.
At the same time, I see their viewpoint too. Theirs is not a party government. They have no means of knowing how much they can count on the support of the people. They see the papers every day and read about extreme leftish outbursts. But on the other hand, they know only too well a great majority of the people are enthusiastically opposed to communism and devotedly for the Emperor. They are afraid that any revision presented in a "drastic" form will only be jeered out of the House, thereby accomplishing nothing. They feel that they must approach it carefully and slowly. They still vividly remember the days of party politics in this country. Granted the parties were often short sighted and corrupt but what they then considered "democratic principle" prevailed everywhere. All over the country, the soldiers were very much looked down on and the fever attained such a height finally that no officer ever dared to ride a street car with his sabre dangling on. The budgets were cut down left and right on armaments. Sure enough, the acute reactions set in and the militarism you know so much about appeared on the scene. They fear that too complete a reform all at once would only invite too extreme a reaction and they are most anxious to avoid it.
I think they are all unanimous in the feeling that once the right to initiate revisions is invested in the House, and not in the Emperor, the battle is nearly won and succeeding governments could revise it as much as they wished according to the will of the people.
I am afraid I have already accelerated the paper shortage by writing this mumble but I know you will forgive me for my shortcoming for which my late father is also partly responsible!
Most sincerely yours,