【PART 5】 The Last Mystery Voluntary slavish obedience and its historical origin
【2】 Rule No.2 of the Security Treaty Village
I wrote in PART 3 about the first rule of the Security Treaty Village: All important documents are written first in English. I’ve written a great deal since then, but the second rule is this: Communism is more scary than nuclear weapons.
Fumimaro Konoe, a representative of the aristocracy, was one of the few people who were able to express their opinion to the Showa Emperor. He is now known as the grandfather of former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, but he was also a Prime Minister twice as well. On February 14, 1945, as Japan’s defeat in World War II became evident, Konoe stated his opinion to the Showa Emperor in a famous document known as “Konoe’s memorial to the Emperor.”
It stated that Japan’s defeat was inevitable. But it pointed out that if Japan surrendered immediately at that time, the U.S. and U.K. would not go so far as to demand the abolition of the imperial system. The most terrifying thing, he said, was not defeat in the war itself, but the communist revolution that would occur with it. I’ll quote a bit of Konoe’s memorial to the Emperor below.
I believe that, regrettable though it is, our defeat in war is imminent and inevitable. … Although defeat will be a stain on the national structure, thus far public opinion in America and Great Britain has not gone so far as to favor a change of the national structure [imperial sytem]. … I believe that, consequently, as far as the defeat itself is concerned, we need not worry too much about its effect on the national system. … What is to be deplored, even more than defeat, is a communist revolution which would arise with the defeat.
Upon careful consideration, I believe that conditions both inside and outside our country are even now rapidly moving in the direction of a communist revolution. Abroad, the Soviet Union is making unusual advances. … The crude actions which the Soviet has recently carried out with respect to the countries in Europe have gradually made it clear that the Soviet Union will never ultimately give up the policy of world communization.
And now, when one looks at the internal situation in this country, all of the conditions for the accomplishment of a communist revolution appear day by day to be realized. … What is of special concern in all this is the reform movement of a group in the military. The majority of young soldiers believe that the country’s national structure and communism are mutually compatible. … I have heard that even among persons in the imperial family there are those who give a hearing to such arguments.
You can see how much fear there was about Japan’s openness to a communist revolution — how all the requirements were being cleared, and how there were advocates and collaborators in the military and imperial family as well.
Now, in order to understand the essence of the Security Treaty Village, which continues up to this day, we need to understand why Konoe was so afraid of a communist revolution.
The biggest factor was that the communists were the ones who, in prewar Japan, opposed the imperial system. Therefore, a communist revolution posed the most alarming crisis for Japanese rulers, since the success of such a revolution meant their lives would be jeopardized. The Maintenance of the Public Order Act, whose maximum penalty became death in the prewar period, was also based on such apprehension of a communist revolution.
In fact, in the Soviet Union, Emperor Nicholas II and his whole family were executed in July 1718, after the success of the Bolshevik Revolution. After a communist revolution, nations did not merely depose kings and their aides, but also killed them. Such physical fear was probably the underlying concern behind Konoe’s memorial to the Emperor.
The Showa Emperor did not accept Konoe’s suggestion at this point, saying it was difficult to discuss such matters until Japanese had achieved another military victory over U.S. forces. However, when he made the decision to surrender in August, the biggest factor was not the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 but the invasion of the Soviet Union, which began on August 9.
Thursday, August 9, clear skies. … I was admitted to the presence of His Imperial Highness. The Soviet Union has declared war on us, and now we are engaged in war. His Highness was of the opinion that matters concerning the settlement of the war need to be researched and decided quickly, and he ordered me to discuss this thoroughly with the Prime Minister.
(Kido Koichi nikki Vol.2, University of Tokyo Press)
The Japanese government tried to conceal from its citizens the truth about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, claiming it was “under investigation.” But at all cost it had to avoid the Soviet invasion of the mainland. Such fear of communism resulted in the Emperor’s message to John Foster Dulles (June 26, 1950), a day after the outbreak of the Korean War, as I’ll explain later.