328 Ball to Evatt

Cablegram Secret and Personal for the Minister 2 TOKYO, 25 June


Forsyth's telegram of June 20th [1] only arrived 1600 hours June 24th. MacArthur had made an announcement on the constitution on June 22nd. Nevertheless I saw him this morning and he talked to me for nearly one and a half hours. I tried to introduce your views in the most informal, friendly and respectful way and MacArthur was cordial until I mentioned your feeling that it might be a mistake to give the impression that the new constitution, if adopted by the Diet, was final and your proposal that provision should be made for review within two years. At this point MacArthur got up from his seat beside me and strode excitedly about the room and trembling violently shouted his views at me very fast. The burden of his statement was that your proposal was as 'completely destructive' as any attack made upon his administration, that he knew that the background of your proposal was 'inspired by the Russians'. MacArthur believed that the draft of the constitution was the finest and greatest thing that had emerged since victory. [2] The Far East Council [3] would not criticize it as a document since it was hardly possible to question that its principles were splendid. F.E.C. criticism sprang from jealousy and self-seeking by the nations represented.

It could not be based on knowledge since so few F.E.C. members had been in Japan. You yourself could have no real knowledge since you had never been here.

MacArthur appeared to become increasingly excited and I felt it desirable to make some attempt to retrieve the situation. I asked leave to interrupt and reminded him that I was only conveying informally your personal feelings on one of the most important problems of the occupation. I said that I felt it was a great mercy for all the people of the Pacific and indeed of the world that MacArthur and no one else had been entrusted with the task of administering Japan. He was not only a great soldier but, unlike some other of the greatest soldiers in history, was also a great statesman with vision and idealism. My statement had an immediate and striking effect on MacArthur. He ceased shouting and sat down beside me in a friendly way saying that I was too kind. I then gently suggested that perhaps sometimes a great man did not fully recognize the spell which he cast over others and particularly the way in which people would have an overwhelming desire to please him. I suggested that the real question about the draft constitution was not whether it had defects as a document but whether it represented the real will of the Japanese people rather than their desire to win the approval of MacArthur. MacArthur then said that he would like to tell me in frank and honest detail the whole history of his dealings with the Japanese on the constitution. The salient points were:-

(1) Concerning renunciation of war Shidehara said to MacArthur 'What armed forces can we retain.' MacArthur replied 'None'.

Shidehara said 'This means renouncing war'. MacArthur replied 'Yes and I think it would be to your advantage if you explicitly renounced war'.

(2) After much discussion with Japanese leaders about the preamble MacArthur was asked for his suggestions. He dictated his general view. To his dismay he found that the Japanese Government's draft was a translation of his dictation.

(3) Concerning the people's rights. The Japanese were anxious to know his views about which basic rights should be protected.

MacArthur gave his views without any effort to impose them and found that the Japanese accepted them completely.

(4) MacArthur is convinced that the draft constitution represents the genuine, spontaneous desire of the Japanese people.

(5) MacArthur was honestly ignorant about the prospects of the draft passing the Diet since Right parties desire amendment increasing the Emperor's powers and the extreme Left desire opposition to the complete draft.

(6) MacArthur regretted as a 'major blunder' his first expression of approval of the Government's draft.

Finally MacArthur asked me to tell you that he believed the mechanism for the kind of revision you feel may be necessary within two years already exists since provision for amendment makes amendment quick and easy. There is no reason why the Allies should not in two years' time insist on revision if they deem it desirable. Nevertheless MacArthur emphasized in the strongest way his belief that any mandatory provision in the present draft for a special opportunity for constitutional revision within two years would be fatal. It would mean that the draft constitution would be dropped and thereby leave him with a terrible alternative. Either to govern through the Emperor as a stooge, or to establish direct military government which would mean dictatorship.

MacArthur asked me on leaving to convey to you his most cordial greetings and told me of the deep affection and respect in which he holds you. He repeated his desire that you visit Japan.

The interview ended on a most hospitable tone with a request for my personal assistance in the effort to understand the mind of the present Japanese Cabinet.

1 Document 323.

2 A sign here indicates 'word apparently omitted'.

3 i.e. Far Eastern Commission.

[AA:A1838/2, 482/1/7]