Other Writing

The Conservative Moment: Japan, 1954-60


Looking backwards on the course of Japanese history, it becomes clear that the premiership of Yoshida Shigeru served to establish the course of both foreign and domestic policy for decades to follow. Yet such an observation was far from obvious in 1954 when Yoshida was forced to resign his position. Yoshida could easily be explained away as an aberration resulting from the American occupation. Once American control weakened, so did Yoshida’s position.

To the conservative nationalists who ousted Yoshida, Japan had not yet developed a post-war system. Only now, they believed, would one come into shape. The conservative nationalists sought to mold a new order, distinct in key ways from what Yoshida had thus far accomplished. Over the next five years, the Japanese leadership worked towards establishing a new order in East Asia and within the confines of the islands. Being unaware that history would judge them an aberration, they vigorously tried to achieve their policy goals.

The ultimate failure of the conservatives simply cannot be written off as inevitable due to its deviance from the Yoshida Doctrine.[1] The policies of the nationalists failed because of their own actions as much as they did due to forces already in motion. Who these men were, what their goals were, and why they failed represents a critical point in Japanese post-war history. The nation might have gone down another route beginning in 1954. That it did not may represent a crucial moment in Japanese history.


Yoshida’s premiership was largely an accident. In 1946 it seemed that the Liberal Party leader, Hatoyama Ichiro, was poised to form a government. Yet, before power was firmly placed in his grasp, he was purged by SCAP because of his connection to the militarist “conspiracy” of the prewar years. This left Yoshida as the party leader.

Yoshida became Prime Minister at a point in time that was both politically delicate and highly accommodating to whomever was in power. In the first place, Yoshida had few political rivals to contend with. A large portion of the political leadership had been purged during the past year. The remaining field of political players was composed primarily of newcomers or politicians who had never been powerful to begin with. Under such circumstances, Yoshida was able to avoid leadership struggles with powerful competitors.

Secondly, demilitarization and the purge had wiped out the various power centers of the Japanese government. The military leaders were gone; the emperor and his councilors were too busy avoiding imprisonment to concern themselves with politics; the major politicians were gone; the Home Ministry and its apparatus had been destroyed. This primarily left the economic bureaucracies intact. Yoshida had close ties to the bureaucracy which he skillfully exploited. He brought bureaucrats into government by encouraging them to run for the Diet and gradually building up his personal habatsu.

Finally, Yoshida was Prime Minister during SCAP’s “reverse course” policies. His government received the benefits of Communist purges, a renewed occupation focus on the economy, and a desire by the Americans to support a friendly, conservative order in Japan. As leftist voices were marginalized and silenced, Yoshida built up his party’s control of the government and his control of the party. In the 1949 Diet elections, Yoshida put forward a large number of ex-bureaucrats as candidates and the Liberals won a majority of seats. Yoshida and the Liberals continued to benefit as the Americans purged members of the Communist central committee from the Diet and from the editorial staff of the Red Flag newspaper. Yoshida faced a very divided opposition and was, consequently, able to push through conservative domestic policies. Ironically, many of these policies served to undermine his own position.

After the American occupation ended, a number of measures were passed which attempted to temper the harsh edge of many SCAP edicts. Politicians were de-purged; war criminals were released from prison; teachers’ unions were restrained by legislation which denied elementary and middle school teachers the right to involve themselves in political activity and prohibited the introduction of JTU designed educational material relating to politics; and targeted Communists with the Subversive Activities Prevention Law. The most controversial of this Liberal legislation, however, was the Police Law which re-centralized control of law enforcement. [2]

The conflict that occurred over the Police Law of 1954 highlighted fissures within the developing Japanese democracy. Less than a decade removed from a monarchical system, [3] the Japanese had not yet developed a fully stable civil society. To say so is not biased-assertion. A central problem still left unsolved—as the Police Law illustrated—was the role of political minorities. In countries like America the opposition is not entirely marginalized due to measures such as the filibuster, in Japan such a system was not yet established.[4] There was essentially nothing the leftist opposition could due to prevent the passage of the legislation through civil means.

Such a state of affairs was especially frustrating due to the nature of political representation in Japanese politics. The left believed, not unreasonably, that the Liberal Party was “not really the expression of majority desires so much as the result of skillful manipulation of the less awakened strata of society . . .through [the] parceling out economic favors.” [5] The left, therefore, believed it had an unspoken popular mandate to prevent passage of certain legislation. If it could not achieve its goals through parliamentary means, it felt justified in doing so through other avenues. To prevent the passage of the law, the Socialists prevented the Speaker of the House from taking his chair and calling the session to order while unions led protests outside the Diet. Yoshida called in the police to remove the ringleaders and the bill passed.

Yoshida also succeeding in passing the Self-Defense Force Bill which established the Self-Defense Agency (SDA) as well as naval and army forces under its supervision. Far more was desired by the Americans, but Yoshida did not want to spend money on military build-up and therefore compromised with this limited measure. Even this was too much for the left who opposed it not simply because it entailed remilitarization but also remilitarization into the American sphere. Leftist opposition to the Mutual Security Treaty (MST) and rearmament stemmed from a growing distrust of the Americans after the “reverse course.” The Americans were believed to act solely in their own interest and were, therefore, likely to involve Japan in conflicts with the Soviets and Chinese with little concern for the potential loss of Japanese life.

The Police Bill, education reform, and Self-Defense Bill all helped to weaken Yoshida and lead to his downfall. Hatoyama had been de-purged in 1951 and had been attempting to regain control of the Liberal Party ever since. He was furious that Yoshida refused to hand over the reins of party leadership. In 1953 he had withdrawn his support from Yoshida and forced a Diet election. Yoshida had emerged from the elections with a plurality of seats. In November of 1954, with anti-Yoshida sentiment at an all-time high due to legislative battles and a series of corruption scandals, Hatoyama withdrew from the Liberal Party altogether and formed the Democratic Party along with such conservatives as Kishi Nobusuke.

The Democratic Party was not simply based around Hatoyama’s personality; it was an ideological movement.[6] It was composed of conservative nationalists who strongly believed that the “Yoshida Doctrine” was mistaken. They believed that SCAP had been wrong to marginalize the emperor and that Japan must be able to conduct foreign policy on its own terms. To achieve this, conservatives felt that Japan must revise the constitution and MST as well as pursue peaceful relations with the Communist bloc. Although the Democrats were fervent anti-Communists, they felt that Japan must not limit its options in the region simply because of American desires.

The Liberals did not even try to protect Yoshida from the Democrats power-grab, instead they looked to Ogata Taketora. Unable to form a majority without the support of Yoshida’s faction, Ogata threatened to force new elections by withdrawing his support from the government. In response, Yoshida supported Hatoyama and the Democrats.[7]

The entire ordeal underlines another important element which characterized Japanese politics during the era: the extremely factionalized nature of the parties. Parties did not support a specific individual to achieve their ideological goals. Rather they were conglomerations of ideologically similar factions, each with its own leader. These factions would support the policies of the dominant habatsu until it benefited them to withdraw support.[8] The Liberals and the Democrats aided the passage of much of Yoshida’s legislation. Finally, as public frustration with Yoshida grew, the factions in both Democrats and Liberals essentially sided with the leftists and forced out Yoshida. The conservative nationalists had succeeded in gaining power, but the methods which they used to do so (and therefore encouraged others to follow) would help to bring about their downfall as well.


Hatoyama was unable to form a stable majority in the Diet and, as a result, it was necessary to hold new elections in February of 1955. The Democrats campaigned on a platform of improving—not enlarging—the SDF; implementing a “renovation in education;” expanding trade with Asia and the world so as to decrease dependence on the United States; and “reform and simplification of local administration.”[9]  Such promises gained them a sizeable plurality in the Diet. In combination, conservatives had a majority.

In response to this conservative dominance, the two Socialist factions agreed to work together as a single party (JSP). By October they had officially unified. During the same period, the Communists began to soften their image by condemning “ultra-leftist adventurism” and taking up the cause of “peace.” The Left seemed on the rebound and, as a result, the conservatives came under considerable pressure from the business community (which footed their bills) to respond. The conservatives obliged the following month by forming a coalition—the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP). When one considers the already factionalized nature of the individual parties, the myriad of habatsu now competing for power becomes mind boggling. There were ten major habatsu in the initial LDP, all set on gaining power and all willing to shift their support whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The LDP platform was vague in the extreme so as to avoid disagreement among the various factions. It held its “foremost political principles to be the observance of domestic parliamentary government and opposition to all influences which sought to rule by violence, revolution and dictatorship.”[10] Beyond these, it called for constitutional revision and a number of seemingly uncontroversial conservative points. Initially the factions could not agree on an official leader. Only after Hatoyama promised to retire in mid-1956 in favor of Ogata Taketora did the parties elect Hatoyama president of the party. After Ogata had his day, it appeared that Kishi Nobusuke would be likely to take the lead—he had played a key roll in the merger negotiations and held the position of Secretary General of the party.

Firmly in control of the government for a guaranteed period, Hatoyama set about trying to negotiate a peace treaty with the Soviets and establish a committee to investigate the possibility of constitutional revision. The Soviet issue was a pressing concern. The two nations had never officially signed a peace treaty at the end of the Pacific War. During a week of open combat, the Soviets had seized large portions of Manchuria and several of the small, northern islands above Hokkaido. With the empire dissolved, Manchuria was a non-issue; but, since Japan wished to reassert its sovereignty, the northern islands were considered important. It was a strategic issue as well because possession of the islands gave the Soviets a foothold in the region.

During the occupation, Japan’s relations with the Soviets had grown more tense. As the Cold War deepened and Yoshida tied Japan closer and closer to the United States, it became clear that Japan was effectively choosing sides. Leftists disliked this immensely; Japan was far nearer to Russia than the US and—as the Korean War demonstrated—was, therefore, far closer to the “front lines.” Moreover, the leftists were far more hostile to the Americans than to the Soviets. The Japanese left supported the conservative attempts to work out a treaty, but argued that Hatoyama should also be asking for Okinawa back as well.

The issue became critical in December of 1955 when the Soviets vetoed Japan’s application to the United Nations. Entry into the UN was crucial to the conservatives because it gave them a voice on the world stage. Détente with the USSR was an essential corollary to returning to the community of nations. The Hatoyama administration entered into negotiations with the Soviets, but there were a number of initial problems: The LDP platform had set out specific demands as to which islands must be returned thereby limiting the room which negotiators had to compromise. America complicated matters by hinting that it would occupy Okinawa permanently if the Soviets did not return sufficient islands. [11] The Soviets had an upper hand in the negotiations and used it to their fullest advantage by issuing a March ultimatum that they would begin regulating fishing in the north Pacific and Bering Strait.

Hatoyama gained more time to negotiate when Ogata died. With the succession in doubt, and the Liberals divided, Hatoyama received the support of Ono Banboku, Ogata’s heir apparent. With his position weakening in the party and the likelihood of a treaty that favored Japan diminishing, Hatoyama promised to resign at the end of negotiations. In this manner he insured that he would be remembered for easing relations with the Soviets while simultaneously placating those in the party who would inevitably be dissatisfied with the results.

As negotiations between plenipotentiaries dragged on and the issue of the Kurile Islands seemed intractable, Hatoyama took matters into his own hands. In October he traveled to Moscow and by the 19th had hammered out a Joint Declaration which normalized relations while skirting territorial issues. The agreement set the stage for commerce and fisheries agreements in the following years. That December Japan was admitted into the United Nations. Hatoyama had brought Japan back into the community of nations and freed-up its range of actions in the Asian theatre.


Hatoyama resigned within two weeks of the Joint Declaration. A month of backroom politicking followed during which Liberals attempted to cobble together a coalition to defeat Kishi. Hatoyama disapproved of Kishi’s close ties to the bureaucracy and threw his support behind Ishibashi Tanzen,[12] an ageing anti-Yoshida Liberal who had made his name during the Taisho era. Ishibashi was elected by a narrow margin.

Kishi demanded, and was given, the post of Foreign Minister. Within a month Ishibashi had contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized. Kishi was appointed acting Prime Minister. By February 1957 Ishibashi had resigned and Kishi was elected party leader. The Ishibashi Cabinet remained intact with Kishi serving as both premiere and Foreign Minister. He made no attempts to pass highly controversial legislation during his first year in office and instead traveled to Southeeast Asia in May in an attempt to assert Japanese influence in the region and sooth animosities still existing after the Pacific War. In June he left again for Washington in the hope of negotiating a loan and testing the waters of treaty revision.

On the eve of Kishi’s American visit, Yoshida wrote an article in Mainichi arguing that the MST did not need revision: The international situation did not call for it and it was not economically feasible for Japan to increase its military. Upon returning to Japan Kishi purged the Yoshida faction from his cabinet before jetting off to Southeast Asia for a new round of talks.

Kishi had been careful to create little controversy thus far. The most notable domestic act of his first year had been to withdraw the right to strike from certain, economically essential workers (like coal miners and electrical power plant employees). He had also continued Hatoyama’s and Yoshida’s efforts to reform the educational system. Hatoyama had successfully passed a School Boards Bill which made local boards appointed by prefecture heads, but had faced teachers strikes when he attempted to pass a Textbook Bill allowing those school boards to create book selection committees. In contrast, Kishi’s reintroduction of ethics; separation of history and geography; purge of leftist teachers and materials; and changing of the standard by which wages were based to “efficiency” caused far less reaction. As a result of his general caution, the LDP polled over 60% in the April 1958 elections. It was only now, with a solid majority in the Diet, that Kishi began to push his agenda—revision of the MST, empowerment of the cabinet, and increasing police powers to discourage radicalism.

Needless to say, there was substantial resistance. It stemmed both from reasons previously mentioned and the character of Kishi himself.[13]  Kishi had played a prominent role in the administration of the Manchurian puppet state of Manchuko and served in the Tojo cabinet. After the war he had been imprisoned for three years as punishment for his activities. While Hatoyama was no angel, he had been less involved in the wartime administration and was less of a polarizing figure. To the Japanese left, Kishi was frightening because he had not proved himself to be a supporter of democracy and suspicions remained that he longed to subvert it.

Hatoyama had laid the groundwork for constitutional revision by establishing a committee to look into the history and development of the constitution and advise the government on its deficiencies and how it could be improved. Approval of the committee had met with initial difficulties in the House of Councilors, but it was finally been passed in 1956. Rather than participate in it, the Socialists boycotted it altogether. The committee was headed by Takayanai Kenzo, a noted constitutional scholar. Kishi, understanding the difficulty that he would face in attempting to amend the constitution, backed off the issue and allowed the committee to deliberate without much pressure.[14] In the meantime, he sought to strengthen the government through constitutional means.

Tensions were already high in the Diet when Kishi introduced the Police Duties Law (PDL) in October 1958 without even consulting the JSP. The left was furious with the LDP for not sharing committees and its stagnating poll results were placing its leaders increasingly on the defensive. The PDL increased police power to detain individuals “suspected of causing annoyance to the public” and broadened the scope of police interrogation powers.[15] Although the law was not harsh by American standards, the JSP perceived it as the first step down a slippery slope. It was yet another move the LDP was making to limit the power of unions and other protesting groups. Realizing that the bill could not be voted down in committee or in the open Diet, the JSP decided to repeat the methods used against the Police Law of 1954. The plan was to physically prevent entrance into the committee rooms for six weeks—until the Diet ran out—this would prevent passage of the PDL and the budget. The goal would be for the LDP to drop the PDL in order to pass less controversial and more important agenda items.

All did not go according to plan. The JSP succeeded in preventing the Speaker from taking his seat, but November 4 the Vice-Speaker called the session to order without a preliminary bell. At that point LDP member “burst into the chamber” and voted for a thirty-day extension of the Diet. Knowing that they could not hold-up the Diet indefinitely, and furious that an extension had been called, the Socialists boycotted the extended session. A compromise was eventually worked out whereby the JSP approved the extension and passed the budget while the conservatives dropped the PDL. The JSP had won again, but their methods were calling into question the legitimacy of Japanese government. Issues were increasingly being solved outside of parliamentary avenues which provoked increasingly partisan responses from the LDP.[16]


The battle over the Police Duties Law had temporarily halted Japanese politics and slowed the pace of MST revision. Preliminary negotiations had begun before the flare-up, but they now began to move at a quicker pace. The process moved fast. By mid-April negotiations had restarted, by October a draft had been drawn up and approved by the LDP executive council and caucus. It was signed by both nations in mid-January and submitted to the Diet for approval on February 5, 1960. Here the smooth sailing ended. International events had occurred which made leftists more wary than ever about the potential effects of the revision.

Kishi’s main goal in revising the treaty was to create a more equal relationship between the two nations. The initial MST had given the United States extraterritorial rights in Japan; allowed America to quell domestic unrest in Japan with its own troops on its own initiative; and allowed it to use Japan as a staging base for troop deployments without consulting the Japanese government. The revisions reduced extraterritorial powers and gave Japan a voice in military deployments. The new MST was more of a joint security agreement than its predecessor.

The left’s opposition was not just a product of its pacifism, but rather an outgrowth of its uncertainty that Japan should fully enter the US orbit. Tensions had been growing with the US in the past decade. In 1957 a report had revealed that 150 Japanese had been killed by stray fire from military firing ranges; labor disputes between the military and local Japanese contractors had become common; and rural-agricultural interests were dissatisfied with runway extensions and other military capital projects which impacted their property.

There was also the fear of alienating the USSR and the Chinese. The Soviets had only signed a commercial treaty within the last year and relations with China were strained. The Japanese left had a soft spot for the Chinese and tried to placate the Communist regime no matter how antagonistic it became.[17] There was great fear that the MST was forcing Japan to support US anti-Communist policies in the region. For many leftists, the revision was worse than the original document because that had been virtually imposed while this one bore the approval of the democratic government of Japan and made the nation complicit.

Battle lines were drawn: The Socialists, Communists, and Zengakuren (a quasi-communist student organization) formed a coordinating committee to oppose the treaty while the various LDP habatsu supported Kishi on the condition that he resign after the treaty was ratified. In November, after the LDP had approved the revision, the JSP pushed for a non-confidence vote. This move was combined with mass protests outside the Diet building. Although the organizers attempted to keep order, more radical protesters broke ranks and stormed the Diet. A month later, the Zengakuren tried to prevent Kishi from traveling to America for the signing. All these efforts were done in the hope that Kishi would be pressured into calling new elections before the ratification vote so as to more fairly gauge Japanese opinion on such a decision. Kishi’s refusal to do so left Socialists with no way of stopping ratification within the Diet.

Before the Diet voted, a new international crisis erupted. An American U-2 spy-plane was captured  by the Soviets. The event led to heated words from both sides—Khrushchev even threatened to “atomize” US bases.[18] With the Cold War on the verge of heating-up, the Japanese left felt it to be the worst possible time to anger the Soviets and identify the nation as an active supporter of US policy. Conservatives, of course, disagreed. To Kishi and others, the current crisis only underlined the need for Japanese input into US decisions and independence in foreign policy. The nationalists, therefore, pushed ahead.

Hoping to pass the bill before Eisenhower arrived for a visit on June 19, Kishi arranged a rapid ratification on May 19 at 10:25 PM.[19] The Socialists had stuck to their traditional methods—preventing the Speaker from reaching his chair, combined with massive protests outside—but, at this point, the police were called in. The Socialists were removed, the LDP extended the Diet session, and the treaty was ratified.

The Socialists boycotted once more and were joined by twenty-seven LDP representatives. The following morning, newspapers criticized the government’s conduct in pushing through the legislation and the JSP demanded that Eisenhower’s visit be cancelled. Kishi was meeting tremendous opposition and was losing the support of his base. By the end of the week the number of protesters had swelled to over 100,000 and it only got worse from there.

As June began, the size of protests hit all-time highs. On June 4 the Japanese National Railway Union stuck, thereby pulling 4.6 million from the workforce. Protests began to take on anti-American tone in light of Eisenhower’s impending visit. The calls for cancellation increased, but Kishi refused on the grounds that it would be a “victory for forces of communism[20].” This resistance became more difficult to maintain after the president’s press secretary was targeted by protestors on June 10.

Events climaxed on June 15. Another railway union, Shitetsu Roren, comprising 5.6 million workers went on strike. That evening, protests outside the Diet turned violent. Radical and nationalist groups came to blows. The Zengakuren protesters attempted to storm the Diet, but were forced back by the police. In the ensuing melee, a student was killed—the only death of the protests. The student protesters tried to storm the grounds again and were once more repulsed by the police. The violence spread as police trucks were set on fire, crowds were bombarded with tear gas, and police “chased and assaulted the students[21].”

The main outcome of the violence was that the Palace asked Kishi to cancel Eisenhower’s visit—a request he could hardly refuse. After June 15 the protests began t diminish in size and ferocity. The official implementation of the treat on June 19 gave people little to continue fighting for. A clear indication of subsiding tensions was that the passage of related legislation on 22nd drew only 60,000 protesters. The following day Kishi resigned as premiere—as he had promised to do far earlier. His resignation further calmed the political scene. After much intra-party negotiation, Ikeda Hayato (a Yoshida bureaucrat) became party leader and Prime Minster. An ideological conservative nationalist would not be elected for a long time to come.


Something crucial happened in Japan between 1954 and 1960: A developing democracy was tested and forced to acknowledge its limitations. The left wing was stagnating; without real access to power and without a message that reached beyond the urban areas, it was unable to grow. At the same time, the dominant party did not accurately represent the views of the body politic.

The LDP consisted of men whose views on democracy had developed in pre-war days. They followed long-term policies that did not necessarily appeal to the immediate desires of the public[22]. This is not to say that they did not care about the people of Japan. Kishi, Hatoyama, and others felt themselves to be acting in the best interests of the Japanese people by fighting for sovereignty, strengthening the police, and weakening the powers of unions and radical groups. While vigorous promotion of democracy did not interest them, they were not necessarily opponents of it. Conservatives simply believed that democracy had been imposed and, unless a natural outgrowth, would never survive.

The leftwing lacked the unity or vision to fight effectively against the conservatives. As their numbers had diminished, and “reverse course” policies had weakened their power within the system, parties had become increasingly “class-based in their appeal and too theoretical, unrealistic and negative in their criticism” of government policies[23]. The hardball tactics of nationalist conservative administrations did not help matters. Increasingly Socialists turned to “‘parliamentarianism plus,’ a willingness to use parliamentary tactics but not to be totally bound by them[24].” Such methods undermined the legitimacy of the government and were unconstructive. While the desperation of the Socialists—lacking a majority but feeling themselves to be fighting on the moral high ground—is palpable and understandable, it only helped to polarize the nation. The system would not have continued to function if protests and riots erupted every time the Socialists lost an important vote.

The “Crisis of 1960[25]” made this all too apparent to both sides. It “could be considered a turning point in the stabilization of political patterns” in that “it marked the end of an era of search and experimentation [where after] . . .Each party [began to act] with some sense of the limits beyond which it was undesirable to provoke the other[26].” The public as a whole did not support radical methods, but equally disapproved of the LDP for forcing the issue. The result was that foreign affairs faded from the national scene and the Japanese political elite returned to the Yoshida Doctrine for guidance.

But the 1960 Crisis did not mark the end of protests. The incident revealed foreign policy to be a political third-rail that should be avoided if Japan were to present a united face to the international community and once more become a prosperous and powerful nation. On the domestic level, grassroots activity did not end—as the environmental movement of the 1960s makes clear. The 1960 Crisis merely set the ground rules for future activism by showing the Japanese what methods of political participation were undesirable.

The protests in and of themselves did not lead to the fall of the conservative nationalists—Japan’s political culture is far too elite-dominated for that. Kishi was already set on stepping down after the ratification and Ikeda might have become premiere regardless of the Crisis. What is important to note is that nationalist conservatives were not able to regain power for a long time. The popularity of Ikeda’s economically oriented policies combined with the clear unpopularity of nationalist policies made it obvious that nationalism was not the most efficient path to power. Calls for Japanese self-assertion in any sphere but that of economics were cast aside. Nationalists had had their day and their opportunity—they had failed.

Lily Abegg, “Japan Reconsiders,” Foreign Affairs, April 1955, pp. 402-15

Paul J. Bailey, Postwar Japan: 1945 to the Present 
               (Blackwell Publishers Ltd: London, 1996)

Hugh Borton, Japan’s Modern Century: From Perry to 1970 
               (The Ronald Press Company: New York, 1970)

Hamilton Fish Armstrong, “Japanese at Cross Purposes,” Foreign Affairs, 
               January 1956, pp. 227-44

Hane Mikiso, Japan: A Historical Survey (Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1972)

Donald Hellmann, Japanese Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics
                (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1969)

Donald Hellmann, Japanese and East Asia (Praeger Publishers: New York, 1972)

“Kishi’s Answer,” Time, 30 May 1960, p. 20.

Dan Kurzman, Kishi and Japan: The Search for the Sun, 
               (Ivan Oblensky, Inc.: New York, 1960)

Masumi Junnosuke, Contemporary Politics in Japan 
               (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1995)

Sharon H Nolte, Liberalism in Modern Japan: Ishibashi Tanzan and His Teachers, 
               1905-1960 (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1987) 

Edwin O Reischauer, “The Broken Dialogue with Japan,” Foreign Affairs, 
               October 1960, pp. 11-26

Edwin O Reischauer, Japan: Past and Present (Alfred A Knopf: New York, 1965)

Robert A Scalapino, “Japanese Socialism in Crisis,” Foreign Affairs, 
               January1960, pp. 318-28

J Stockwin, The Japanese Socialist Party and Neutralism 
               (Melbourne University Press: Australia, 1968)

Toshikazu Kase, “Japan’s New Role in East Asia,” Foreign Affairs, 
               October 1955, pp. 40-49

[1] For the purposes of this paper, the Yoshida Doctrine is best defined as maintaining a solely economic focus while allowing America to assume the military burden in the region and responsibility for the development of foreign policy.

[2] Hane Mikiso, Japan: A Historical Survey (Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1972), pp.578-80.

[3] Or military-controlled, fascist regime depending upon whom one chooses to believe.

[4] Edwin O Reischauer, “The Broken Dialogue with Japan,” Foreign Affairs, October 1960.

[5] Ibid., p. 17.

[6] In stating this I am in disagreement with Donald Hellmann who argued that the Democratic Party was “almost exclusively expediential; policy, much less ideological consideration, was of marginal significance” (Hellmann, Japanese Foreign Policy, p. 45.). While the creation of the party was certainly expediential, that expedience was in the service of ideology. The easiest way to gain power and put an end to the Yoshida Doctrine was to form a new party outside of Yoshida’s control.

[7] There are many possible reasons for Yoshida’s decision—one might find it odd considering the Democratic opposition to the Yoshida Doctrine—but I am inclined to believe that it was done to avoid new elections which, in light of the highly controversial recent legislation, might not have gone in the conservative’s favor. Another explanation could be pure politics—Yoshida did not want his rival Ogata to be Prime Minister and believed that he would have a chance again after Hatoyama and the Democrats made errors. Essentially, this did occur in 1960—but to Ikeda’s benefit.

[8] Donald Hellmann, Japanese and East Asia (Praeger Publishers: New York, 1972)

[9] Hugh Borton, Japan’s Modern Century: From Perry to 1970 (The Ronald Press Company: New York, 1970), p. 497.

[10] Ibid., p. 498.

[11] The Americans intended to strengthen the Japanese position by saying this, but they only served to anger the Soviets and the conservative nationalists who found the statement humiliating.

[12] For more information on Ishibashi: Sharon H Nolte, Liberalism in Modern Japan: Ishibashi Tanzan and His Teachers, 1905-1960 (University of California Press: 1987)

[13] I am not of the opinion that Kishi is an evil character by any means, but I am inclined to believe he did not represent the desires of the Japanese people. He is not spoken of well today, but it is important to understand that he was once highly respected by the American establishment because he was an anti-communist and interested in lightening the American burden in Asia by reasserting Japanese influence. The protests that occurred in 1960 were generally said to be the fault of radicals with little mention of Kishi’s role in heightening political tensions.

A key example of pro-Kishi sentiment is Dan Kurzman’s Kishi and Japan: The Search for the Sun (1960) a contemporary work released only months after Kishi’s resignation. I believe it mirrors then sentiments of Kishi and America’s Cold War policy makers when it says Kishi successfully converted “himself from a fascist leader and war minded samurai into a democratic leader” (xvii); “the Reds were digging their own grave, confirming with every move the incompatibility of Communism with the traditional Japanese concepts of social orderliness” (259); and “the logical thing to do would be to amend the constitution to permit the open formation of genuine armed forces” (353).

Nor is the book particularly good history in general as exemplified by statements like “his eyes watered when he glimpsed the Sato house, its brown wood as solid and indestructible as the memories of childhood within it” (259).

[14] The committee released its report in 1964. It held that Article IX did not forbid the SDF; stated that the constitution was imposed by SCAP; and warned that the executive and legislative functions of government should not be to closely associated.

[15] Borton, p. 502.

[16] Masumi, p. 28.

[17] China had cut off trade relations in May 1958 after a CCP flag flying in Nagasaki had been ripped down by a conservative activist (Reischauer, Past, p. 276).

[18] “Kishi’s Answer,” Time.

[19] Bills passed by the House of Representatives automatically become law in 30 days if not acted on by the House of Councilors.

[20] Masumi, p. 44.

[21] Ibid., p. 43.

[22] As a point of comparison I would suggest the aristocratic governments of Rome or Victorian England. It has often been argued that such rich, conservative leadership ultimately acts in the best interests of all by pursuing consistent, farsighted policies.

[23] Edwin O Reischauer, “The Broken Dialogue with Japan,” p. 19.

[24] Robert A Scalapino, “Japanese Socialism in Crisis,” p. 323.

[25] Stockwin uses this phrase and, whether or not it is the best way of viewing the events of May and June, I find it to be a useful concept—in the same vein as the “Meiji Restoration.”

[26] J Stockwin, pp. 95-6