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115 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1270 WASHINGTON, 12 September 1946, 8.34 p.m.


F.E.C. 219.

1. F.E.C. 12th September discussed the new Japanese constitution.

Further discussion postponed till next week. The following is a summary of the discussion.

2. U.S.A. and Netherlands. Accept the constitution without qualification.

3. Canada. Considered the constitution satisfies controlling documents.

4. Australia. Draft was 'not unacceptable' but was nevertheless far from satisfactory, and therefore provision must be made for subsequent review. Examples of inadequacy in present draft were:

(a) General vagueness in drafting (b) Uncertainty as to role of Emperor, particularly in regard to Lese Majeste and subordination of Emperor to legal processes (c) Too much power for House of Councillors (d) Universal adult suffrage not specifically provided for (e) Selection of Prime Minister should not require participation by House of Councillors (f) Conditions of recall and impeachment of judiciary not laid down. In addition it is doubtful whether method of adoption expressed free will of Japanese people. [1]

5. France. Draft 'acceptable' but this was 'not an enthusiastic endorsement for draft as it stood'. France attached great importance to F.E.C. provision for review.

6. India. Would accept constitution but considered it far from satisfactory.

7. Soviet. No instructions so far but following seemed unsatisfactory.

(a) Bicameral system (b) Method of election of Judges (c) Nomination of Ministers by Prime Minister instead of Diet (d) Regency (e) Age of electors (f) Poat [2] of exclusion of members of Diet. Soviet Member did not elaborate.

8. United Kingdom. 'No positive approval' but probably did not vote against constitution. United Kingdom Member associated himself with Australian views on adult suffrage, judiciary, power of two Houses, and said United Kingdom felt also that rights of aliens in Japan were inadequately protected.

9. China. No instructions, but Wellington Koo stated personal view that methods of election and qualifications of members should be laid down.

10. New Zealand. Strongly supported views of Australia. Laid particular emphasis on bad drafting, provisions for House of Councillors, and position of Emperor. Supported principle of later review. Could not approve constitution, but would not vote against it.

11. Philippines. No comments.

12. General atmosphere was that no changes could be secured by other F.E.C. members in view of United States endorsement.

However, United States Delegation was impressed by fact that several countries, particularly Australia, New Zealand, and United Kingdom were so critical of the draft.

1 In cablegram 1278 of 5 September from Tokyo, Ball had stated that amendments made in the Lower House had been limited almost entirely to those required to bring the draft constitution 'into conformity with the wishes' of the F.E.C., and that the Diet's attitude so far had been 'entirely acquiescent'.

2 A sign here indicates 'mutilated'.

[AA:A1067, ER46/13/22]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History