【PART 3】 The Mystery of the Security Treaty Village (1): The Showa Emperor and the Constitution of Japan

 

【38】 The Far Eastern Commission came to have authority over Constitution Reform

 

First, MacArthur wanted to deal with the Japanese constitutional reform issue on his own initiative. The main reason for that was probably the Showa Emperor issue. MacArthur as commander of the Pacific War knew the strength of the Japanese military better than anyone. Millions of Japanese soldiers ceased resistance all at once at the command of the Showa Emperor, and obeyed orders from the occupation army after August 15. MacArthur, the supreme commander who bore responsibility for U.S. soldiers’ lives, was very grateful for the Showa Emperor’s authority.

The Showa Emperor was tough and skillful at grasping the situation, and definitely carried out what was agreed upon. MacArthur probably became certain at their first meeting that the Showa Emperor was essential to carrying out his great mission, the Occupation of Japan.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo tribunal of war criminals was approaching in three months, on May 3 (1946). MacArthur wanted to protect the Showa Emperor somehow, isolating him from indictment for war responsibility in order to secure his cooperation in implementing the occupation policy smoothly. However, an opinion in favor of putting the Emperor on trial persisted among some Allies, such as Australia and New Zealand. Even many American people wanted to find the Emperor guilty.

To avoid putting the Emperor on trial, MacArthur had to introduce a new constitution that said, “Neither the Emperor nor Japan will ever be a militarily threat in the future”

To make a long story short, however, as a result of a conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union regarding the authority of the occupation of Japan, the Far Eastern Commission (FEC), a supreme decision-making body for the Occupation of Japan composed of 11 countries, was founded in Washington. (Birth Story of the Constitution of Japan by Tatsuo Sato/Printing Bureau of Ministry of the Treasury)

It was decided that FEC would have a preferential decision-making power on the Japanese Constitution amendment issue after its establishment. So even MacArthur was not sure whether he would have the right to take the initiative on the amendment of the Japanese Constitution. On January 29, 1946, MacArthur addressed a research group of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission (predecessor of FEC). He remarked at that time, “The Japanese constitutional reform issue…has been out of my hands.” The real intention behind his remark, however, is unknown.