429 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1 WASHINGTON, 2 January 1947, 11.40 p.m.


1. FEC met 2nd January to consider the question of implementing legislation for Japanese constitution.

2. Berendsen, in a very moderate speech said that this was another example of a long series of frustrations F.E.C. had been involved in. He said that S.C.A.P. was aware of the Commission's interest in implementing legislation and of its desire to examine it, but though ample time had existed for sending drafts of legislation to the Commission, this did not arrive until after legislation had been passed by the Japanese Diet. It would be much more difficult for the Commission to obtain any changes now. He said the Commission was entitled to an explanation from the United States member.

3. Australian representative [1] reviewed the history of the present situation along the lines of paragraph 3 of our FEC.328 of 26th December. [2] He pointed out that, despite assurances from the Chairman, the Commission had not been given legislation in time. He said the Australian representative had suggested on several occasions that there should be delay of 2 or 3 weeks in the Diet deliberations after legislation had passed one house so that F.E.C. could express opinion. If the Australian proposal had been adopted, the present position would not have arisen. F.E.C.

had been denied the opportunity of taking effective action, not because of any inefficiency or tardiness on its own part, but solely because, in order to assist S.C.A.P., member nations had not used to the full, their powers where such views would have embarrassed General MacArthur. This co-operation should be reciprocated. F.E.C. was established so that powers could share responsibility in occupation policy, but nations could not accept responsibility for policies that were enforced without their being given a chance to express their views. F.E.C. had not been given proper opportunity to examine implementing legislation. He concluded that the situation demonstrated once again the great wisdom F.E.C. had shown in adopting Dr. Evatt's policy for a review of the constitution, thereby ensuring that the whole constitutional position would be reviewed later on by the Japanese people and the F.E.C.

4. Bajpai [3] for India associated himself with Australian and New Zealand views and said India and other F.E.C. nations by their participation in the war had won a right to exercise an effective voice in such matters as these. F.E.C. should have been given an opportunity to communicate its views in time for the Japanese to take them into account before legislation had been passed.

5. McCoy promised that United States Government would carefully examine points raised and would give reply later. He said F.E.C.

still had the power to review legislation even though it had been passed by the Diet, though he conceded that such a review would be more difficult now that the acts had become laws instead of a draft.

6. No other member of Commission spoke despite the fact that several countries had promised before hand to support us. They explained afterwards that they felt Australia and New Zealand had covered the ground so adequately that there was no more to be said. However, strong protest from a large number of members seemed justified and would have been helpful. One reason why F.E.C. does not exert more influence is the weak-kneed attitude of so many of the delegates.

1 Plimsoll.

2 In part this paragraph read: 'USA has treated Commission very badly, and it might not be too much to say it has committed a gross breach of faith'. It went on to chronicle failed attempts by FEC members to obtain details on draft legislation before its passage through the Japanese Diet.

3 Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, Indian representative on the FEC, February 1946 to 31 January 1947.

[AA : A1838, 3103/1/2/1, i]