CONFERENCE OF RESEARCH COMMISSION ON THE CONSTITUTION
THE HOUSE OF COUNCILLORS
May 2, 2000
Guest Speaker :
Ms. Beate Sirota GORDON,
Former staff member, Government Section,
General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander Allied
Mr. Richard Armstrong POOLE,
Former staff member, Government Section,
General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander Allied
Research Commission on the Constitution :
Chairman Mr. Masakuni MURAKAMI
Director Mr. Kimitaka KUZE
Mr. Takao KOYAMA
Mr. Yoshitada KOUNOIKE
Mr. Keizo TAKEMI
Mr. Satsuki EDA
Mr. Yukihisa YOSHIDA
Mr. Yuichiro UOZUMI
Mr. Chikashi KOIZUMI
Ms. Masako OWAKI
Member Mr. Issei ANAN
Mr. Kuniomi IWAI
Mr. Mitsuhide IWAKI
Mr. Yoshihiko EBIHARA
Ms. Chikage OOGI
Mr. Toranosuke KATAYAMA
Mr. Hiroaki KAMEYA
Mr. Hitoshi KIMURA
Mr. Shuji KITAOKA
Mr. Takao JINNOUCHI
Mr. Hiroshige SEKO
Mr. Syuzen TANIGAWA
Mr. Mahito NAKAJIMA
Mr. Takeshi NOMA
Mr. Minao HATTORI
Mr. Iwao MATSUDA
Mr. Keiichiro ASAO
Ms. Mie ISHIDA
Mr. Toshimi KITAZAWA
Ms. Teiko SASANO
Mr. Yoshimitsu TAKASHIMA
Mr. Giichi TSUNODA
Mr. Masayuki NAOSHIMA
Ms. Yoriko MADOKA
Mr. Susumu YANASE
Ms. Reiko OMORI
Mr. Hiroshi TAKANO
Mr. Junichi FUKUMOTO
Mr. Atsushi HASHIMOTO
Mr. Yoshinori YOSHIOKA
Ms. Haruko YOSHIKAWA
Ms. Mizuho FUKUSHIMA
Mr. Sadao HIRANO
Mr. Michio SATO
Director-General, Secretariat of the Research
Commission on the
CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, we would now like to open the Research
Commission on the Constitution under the House of Councillors. The agenda item
is the "Investigation on the Constitution." Ever since the Research
Commission on the Constitution was established at our House, we will be for the
first time celebrating tomorrow the date to commemorate the Constitution. We
are indeed privileged to have the experts who were involved in the drafting of
the so-called MacArthur Draft of the Constitution, which eventually became the
Japanese Constitution, to give their views on their experiences during that
As a guest speaker we are privileged to have Ms. Beate Sirota Gordon, who
was on the Subcommittee on Human Rights. We also have Mr. Richard Poole, who
was the Naval Ensign at the time, and who was a member of the Subcommittee on
the Emperor, Treaties and Enabling Provisions, as a guest speaker. We also
invited Mr. Milton Esman, who was the First Lieutenant of the Army at the time
and who was involved in the Subcommittee on the Administrative Authorities, but
he has been taken ill, so he has informed us with a doctor's note that he will
not be able to be present at this Commission Session. I would like to express
my heartfelt gratitude to the guest speakers. Thank you very much for
traveling such a long way to attend the Research Commission on the Constitution. On
behalf of the Commission, I would like to express my sincere appreciation.
I would also like to thank the members of the Research Commission on the
Constitution. Even though we are amidst the Golden Week Holiday season in
Japan, I am sure you must be very busy, but I would like to thank you for taking
the time to attend this Research Commission. As the Chair of the Commission I
would like to thank all of you as well.
Perhaps this may be only natural - of course, please do not put this into
the record of the meeting - but this is something required of you. I very much
hope that the guest speakers will be very frank and candid in their views and
opinions. As to how we should be proceeding, we would like to first of all ask
Ms. Gordon, and then Mr. Poole, to speak to us for twenty minutes each, and then
go on to question and answers. I would like to ask both the guests speakers as
well as the members of the Commission to please be seated while you speak.
May I invite Ms. Gordon, first of all.
GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen of the House of Councillors, I want to thank you
for inviting me to speak on this important occasion.
Good day, everyone. My name is Beate Sirota Gordon. I think there are
people who have traveled from far away, but I guess I have traveled the longest
distance. I came from New York City. It is a great honor to have been
invited here by the Research Commission on the Constitution. Thank you very
much for inviting me.
I am so glad to see so many women participating as the members of the
Research Commission and in the audience today. Before the War, it was
unthinkable to have such a large group of women participating in a meeting like
this. After fifty-five years, this is happening in front of my eyes. And it
is almost like a dream for me.
There are 43 women members of the House of Councillors. This is something
to be congratulated. This is much better than the Senate in the United States,
where we have only nine women senators. So congratulations to the women in
In December 1945, I was associated with the American military establishment
and flew to Japan from New York City. I had been away from Japan for five
years, so when I saw the destruction, my heart sank. I was born in Vienna. When
I was five and a half years of age, I came to Japan together with my family. So
Tokyo is closer to me than Vienna. Tokyo was almost like my hometown. During
the War, my parents were in Karuizawa, so when I began my work, or before I
began my work with General MacArthur's GHQ, I went to Karuizawa. With food
shortage and fuel shortages, they were having a very hard time. When they told
me how things were during the War, my heart again ached for the suffering people
of Japan. After I stayed with them for two days, I came back to Tokyo and I
was assigned to the Government Section of the SCAP of GHQ.
The first work I did was research with respect to the women's political
movement. In a month or so, on the 4th of February, at 10:00 o'clock, General
Whitney, Head of the Government Section, told me: "You are going to be a
member of the Constitutional Assembly from this day onward, and this is to be
completely confidential. You are going to act upon the orders of General
MacArthur, and your job is to draft a Japanese Constitution." Twenty or
so people received this briefing and they were all stunned by it.
General MacArthur, until the 4th of February, had no intention of giving
this task to his staff members. Minister Matsumoto, the Minister without
portfolio, was asked by General MacArthur to draft a Constitution, but he came
up with the draft which was not so different from the Meiji Imperial
Constitution. So, in the final analysis, General MacArthur gave up and gave
this task to General Whitney.
After the announcement by General Whitney, Colonel Kades assigned various
tasks of drafting the Constitution. Regarding civil rights, three people were
given this task, two men and one woman. And that woman was me. Afterwards,
the three of us got together and decided who was going to write which section of
the portion. And then the two men said: Beate, you are a woman, so you should
draft the rights concerning women. I was so happy and of course I agreed. But
other than women's rights, the freedom of study was something that I wanted to
write. Everybody agreed. So I got aboard a jeep and made rounds of various
libraries and collected constitutions of various countries for our reference. This
was to be done confidentially, so I didn't concentrate on one library. If I
concentrated in one library, the director of the library would wonder how come a
member of the GHQ was so interested in various constitutions. So I went to
various libraries. I came back to my office, everybody used the documents for
reference; so I was very popular amongst the staff members. Everybody wanted
to use the documents I had collected.
The order of General MacArthur was to draft the Constitution as quickly as
possible. So from morning till night, I read various constitutions. I looked
into what part would be suitable for Japan, and from my own experiences, I
thought very hard about what kind of rights would be needed for Japanese women.
Before the War, I had lived in Japan for ten years, so I knew how Japanese
women were. I knew Japanese women were totally without any rights. So, in
the Constitution, I wanted to incorporate various rights of women, such as the
selection of a spouse and the right to be assisted by the state when pregnant. I
wanted to incorporate all of these rights in the Constitution, and I wrote them
concretely and strongly. For example, in my first draft, the following was
included: Family is the basis of the human society, and its tradition, for good
or evil, permeates society at large. Therefore, marriage and the family must
be based upon the equality of both sexes. This is not by the collusion of the
parents, but must be based upon the agreement of both sexes. And it is not to
be under the domination of the man, but must be based upon the cooperation of
both sexes. This Constitution shall stipulate this and if laws run counter to
these principles, they will be rescinded. Property rights, inheritance, the
selection of the domicile, marriage, divorce, and all matters pertaining to
families shall be based upon the dignity of the individual as well as the
essential equality of both sexes. Based upon that notion, laws must be
Regarding other provisions, I wrote the following: As far as pregnant women
and the nurturing of infants are concerned, mothers doing this nurturing,
irrespective of whether they are married or unmarried, are entitled to be
protected by the State. Legal assistance must be provided to give them what
they need . In the case of an illegitimate child, he or she should not be
discriminated against by the law. Regarding material and societal development,
equal opportunities must be provided just as in the case of a legitimate child. In
the case of adopted children, the husband and the wife must agree with each
other, otherwise the adopted child cannot be a member of the family. In
adopting a child, other members of the family must not be placed at a
disadvantage. The eldest son's sole power of inheritance should be abolished.
I also talked about the equality of the education of children, arguing that,
irrespective of public or private schools, children should be entitled to have
free medical care for ophthalmologic treatment, for example. Good rest and
entertainment, and good opportunities for exercise for growth, must be provided. Such
detailed provisions were included in my draft.
Colonel Roest and Prof. Wildes read my draft and the two of them agreed. Then
we went to the Steering Committee of the Government Section of GHQ and we
recommended our draft. There were three people on the Steering Committee:
Colonel Kades, Commander Hussey, and Lieutenant Colonel Rowell. All of them
were lawyers and all of them were men. These men read my draft, the basic
rights for women. They agreed with the basic rights, but they were adamantly
opposed to what I wrote about social welfare. They said that such detailed
provisions are not appropriate for a constitution and should be stipulated by
the Civil Code. These were the opinions of the members of the Steering
Committee. I was so disheartened. Such social welfare must be included in
the Constitution, in my opinion. The Civil Code drafters are men and I told
them I was absolutely sure that men would not incorporate such points into the
Colonel Kades said, "Beate, your draft contains more than the American
Constitution." And I said, "Naturally. The American Constitution does
not even include the word 'woman.' But the European Constitutions include
women's basic rights as well as social welfare rights in great detail."
I fought so fiercely for these rights. I even shed tears. But in the
final analysis, the Steering Committee only adopted my wording for the current
Article 24 of the Constitution: "Marriage shall be based upon the mutual
consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with
equal rights of husband and wife as a basis. With regard to choice of spouse,
property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters
pertaining to marriage and the family, the laws shall be enacted from the
standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes." This
was the only part of my original draft that remained.
General Whitney showed this draft to the Japanese Government. When he did
so, my wording regarding basic women's rights still remained when it was handed
to the Japanese side. I wrote that marriage and the family must be based upon
the concept of the essential equality of the sexes, and that parents' collusion
must not be a factor and there must be mutual agreement between both sexes. It
must not be placed under the domination of men but must be maintained with the
cooperation of both sexes. This still remained in the preamble. The Japanese
Government omitted these phrases concerning parental collusion and the
domination of men.
In any event, I believe that the Steering Committee shortened my original
draft, and I was so disappointed about the fact that my draft was shortened. But
at that time I was 22 years of age, so the Steering Committee members were older
than me and had greater power, so I thought this was unavoidable. But the very
basic right was included in Article 24, and I was comforted by the fact that
what I wanted remained in the Constitution.
The draft was completed in a week and the Government Section presented it to
General MacArthur. Then General Whitney gave this draft to the Government of
Japan. I thought our work was completed, but that was not the case. On the
4th of March, another confidential meeting was held. The people who
participated were the members of the Steering Committee as well as
representatives of the Japanese Government. I was called to this meeting, not
because I was a drafter, but as an interpreter. There were five interpreters. The
Head Interpreter was Lieutenant Joseph Gordon, and eighteen months later I
married this Lt. Gordon. So you could say that the drafting of Constitution
had various consequences for me.
At 10:00 o'clock the Confidential Meeting started, and I was not allowed to
come out of the room until the meeting was finished. All meals were served in
that room. These meals consisted of American Army provision, C-ration, which
was canned meat, and K-ration, which was dry food. I thought that meeting
would be over in three to four hours, but from the very beginning all kinds of
discussion and arguments started, especially regarding the Emperor system. These
discussions went on and on, not only about the meaning but also the usage of the
words, what characters should be used, and so on. On the Japanese side, the
Japanese version of a new draft was used as the basis, while our side based
ourselves upon our draft. Then we compared the two. The work was very
complex; the Japanese side could not understand English and the American side
could not understand Japanese, which made the job of interpretation very hard.
The Japanese Government came up with a new draft, the provisions and we
translated each provision one after another. Then this had to be read by the
Steering Committee, which had to respond to the Japanese draft. This was a
very time-consuming exercise.
I was very quick at interpretation and I interpreted for both the U.S. side
and the Japanese side. Colonel Kades realized that the Japanese side had a
very good impression of me. At about 2 o'clock in the morning, when the
provision about the equality of the sexes came up, this turned into a huge
argument. The Japanese side said that this kind of women's right is not at all
appropriate for Japan and not congruous with Japanese culture. It was such a
big fuss. Just like the discussion on Emperor system, the discussion became
very heated. It became very late and everybody was tired.
Colonel Kades made use of the good impression that the Japanese side had of
me, saying, "Ms. Beate Sirota fervently wishes these rights for women, so
let us adopt it since she is so enthusiastic about it." The Japanese side
did not know that I was the drafter of this provision and when Colonel Kades
told them, they were stunned, so when Colonel Kades says let's adopt this, the
Japanese side agreed. And so Article 24 became history.
The job of interpretation continued until 10 o'clock the next morning - I
was working round the clock as an interpreter. Colonel Kades told me to go
home, so I went to Kanda Kaikan. That day I slept very well. Lt. Joseph
Gordon continued the work on the Constitution until 6:00 in the evening, looking
into the complex use of words and so forth.
Were the Japanese people happy about the Japanese Constitution? Of course,
they were. The Japanese Government at that time was not so happy about the
Constitution, but the Japanese people were. When they found out about the
Japanese Constitution, the Japanese people didn't know that it was drafted by
the staff members of General MacArthur's GHQ. But in 1952, when the American
Occupation Forces went back to the United States, one scholar and one journalist
found out that the new Constitution was something imposed by the Occupation, by
the Allied Powers. And they insisted that such a constitution must be revised.
Can we say that this draft of the Constitution was imposed by General
MacArthur on the Japanese Government? Generally speaking, when somebody
imposes something on someone else, do you think he or she will impose something
better what they themselves already have? The Japanese Constitution is even
more wonderful than the American Constitution, so it shouldn't be regarded as an
imposition. You do not impose something better than what you already have. It
is therefore wrong to say that this Constitution was imposed on the Japanese
people. Progressive Japanese men and a minority of enlightened women started
from the 19th century a campaign for human rights, especially for women's
suffrage. So Japanese women were working in the movement for women's suffrage. At
that time the Japanese people were repressed, and this repressed will was
reflected in this movement, which is why it was welcomed by the Japanese people.
We, the drafters of the Japanese Constitution, were reticent about what we
did for many years. One reason was that the whole exercise was supposed to be
confidential. Another reason was my feeling that people who wanted to revise
the Constitution would use my youthfulness as a pretext. So I thought that I'd
better keep quiet. So I never accepted an interview by any Japanese newspaper
companies. Up until five years ago, I never said anything about it even to my
closest friends. Only once or twice, around 1970, I told something about it to
Regarding the fact that I was young, I want to say something here. At that
time, I was 22 years old, but I think there is a huge gap between being 22 years
old in the present day and being 22 at that time; I was able to speak six
languages. When I was 19 and a half, I graduated from university. Since I
was six I had learned piano and dancing, and from the age of six I went to
opera, the performing arts and concerts. When the war broke out, I was in the
United States and I was separated from my parents, so I had to be alone and I
had to earn my own living. From the age of 19 to 22, I was in charge of the
research and translation of difficult journalistic topics. Mills College was a
progressive college. And although these were not the days of feminism, I was
already a feminist at that time. When I was 22 years old I traveled the whole
world, to Europe and to Asia. From early childhood I saw militarism with my
own eyes. I knew about the military police very well. Every day they would
come to my house and ask our maid many questions. When I was six, I was in
Japanese society and played with Japanese friends. So I had first-hand
knowledge of the repressed situation of Japanese women. The wives were always
hidden behind the husbands when walking. I saw these things with my own eyes.
CHAIRMAN: I am sorry but the time is up. Could you please conclude.
GORDON: I knew that the Japanese wives would only cook the meal and would not
take part in the discussion, and I knew that these women were totally devoid of
any rights. You could not marry a person you liked, you could not divorce, you
didn't have economic rights. I also knew that in the family women may be
powerful, that they had their say about the education of their children, and
that they controlled the salary the husband brought home. So, at the time of
22 years of age, I was not a novice, I was not just a little maiden who knew
nothing about the Japanese situation.
Someone has said that since this is the Constitution imposed from the
outside, it must be revised. But historically speaking, Japan has always
imported and adopted good things from outside. Chinese characters, Buddhism,
porcelain, court music are all things imported from outside and they have been
adapted to the Japanese way. So it's good that the Constitution comes from
outside as long as it is a good constitution. It doesn't matter whether it was
drafted by young people or old people - who wrote the constitution is not really
CHAIRMAN: I am sorry, but time is up.
GORDON: If it is a good constitution, I think it must be adhered to. This
Constitution has lasted as long as fifty years. In the past, whatever the
constitution, it was destined to be revised in a forty years time. I think
this Constitution should become the model of the world, and that is why it has
not been revised for as long as fifty years. Japan should be proud to have
this Constitution and should teach other countries about the wonderful nature of
this Constitution. Peace must be taught to other countries. Other countries
should emulate the Japanese Constitution and the concept of peace.
In May 1999, . . .
CHAIRMAN: I'm very sorry, but I think you have already made your conclusion.
GORDON: Just the very last piece of my presentation. Sorry, the very last
I respect Japanese women very much; they are very wise and work very hard. Japanese
women's hearts and minds are very strong. I am not an expert. I am only a
person called Sirota and I am an amateur, which is "shiroto" in
Japanese. I am a mother and a grandmother, so I worry about the future of my
children and grandchildren. Without peace, we cannot live in a secure way. I
am a foreigner, so you Japanese don't have to listen to what I say. I don't
have the right to vote in Japan.
But I want you to listen to the voices of Japanese women. What I hear is
that the majority of the Japanese women prefer the Japanese Constitution. They
agree that the Constitution is an appropriate constitution for the Japanese
context. Thanks to the Constitution, the Japanese economy grew very rapidly. You
didn't have to spend money on weapons and could divert that money to technology,
education and construction. And because of that, Japan became one of the
greatest powers in the world. Other Asian countries, Japan's neighbors, think
that Japan is a safe country. Japanese women understand this point very well.
Finally, I have one plea, one request to make. Japanese women's voices
must be heard. Please listen to the voices of Japanese women. Thank you very
CHAIRMAN: I have been listening very carefully to the words of Mrs. Gordon
and watching very carefully the women members of the Commission.
Now, may I turn to Mr. Poole, the next guest speaker. Mr. Poole, please.
POOLE: I would like to express my deep appreciation for being invited to
discuss the Constitution. Before proceeding, I have here a book that's only
just been published by Prof. Theodore McNelly, who participated in the forum in
1997, and who was a recognized scholar and research historian and authority on
developments in Japan, in particular. So, he has asked me to present you with
a copy of this book for the Commission. May I?
CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
POOLE: A little bit about my own background in Japan. I was born in
Yokohama on April 29th, 1919, which makes me rather old, but also that of course
happened to be the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, which was a coincidence
compounded later on. On one side of my family, my brothers and I are the fifth
generation in Japan. My great great grandfather was one of the first two
American consuls sent to Japan pursuant to Commodore Perry's treaty with the
Japanese, and every generation since then has lived in Japan, including my
generation for a few years. I might mention that four of my forebears are
buried in Japan.
We lived in Yokohama until the great earthquake of 1923, when we were lucky
to get out alive. We lost everything. Then we spent two years in Kobe, after
which my father was unexpectedly transferred by his company to take over the New
York Office. And so we did not return to Japan until I came back in 1945. But
that has left with me a real affection for the Japanese people. I remember
fondly our old amah, who had been my mother's amah. This affection has lasted,
although there was a little break in our relationship, which has been repaired,
and I still maintain that bond. Amongst our possessions, our proudest
possessions are the result of Japanese culture. Our "imari" plates,
our "kakemono," the prints, Hiroshige prints, furniture, all of which,
or almost all of which were inherited. To me this is a sign of our
appreciation for Japanese culture and cultural development and the influence of
Japanese culture on the cultures of the West.
I returned to Japan in 1945 as a young naval officer on leave of absence
from our diplomatic service. Instead of invading Japan with the group, I was a
member of the joint Army Navy unit that was slated for the invasion of Kyushu. I
was spared that and invaded Japan down the gangplank in Yokohama where I had
been born and found that poor Yokohama had been destroyed for the second time in
my lifetime. I was assigned to the Government Section of GHQ General
Headquarters, to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. I was astonished
to be given the task of helping prepare a draft constitution in one week and at
being assigned to head the two-man committee on the Emperor and various
miscellaneous provisions including amendments of the treaty-making powers and so
forth. I wasn't as young as Beate Sirota, since I was an old man of 26, and
perhaps the fact that I had had foreign service experience and had studied
constitutional law, international law, commercial law, maritime law,
international relations and history, and the fact that I had always been
interested in Japan throughout my life had some bearing on my assignment despite
my very humble rank. Colonel Kades, who was the Executive Officer of the
Government Section, and who chaired the Steering Committee, remarked to me that
most of those involved in the Occupation were a little bit suspicious of
Americans who had lived in Japan for a long time and who they felt were
associated with the old order. But they thought maybe they could make an
exception for me since I had left at the age of six.
The background of the drafting process is well known to all of you, I am
sure. For instance, this was discussed at length in the 1997 Forum on the
Constitution, which was sponsored by a large group of Diet members; and we could
perhaps in some way provide some background for your studies. The three of us
who were invited, and unfortunately there are now only two, were the dwindling
group of survivors of the drafting process.
Briefly, the Japanese aggression in East Asia and the Pacific made clear the
need to revise the Meiji Constitution, which had been misused by
ultranationalists and militarists to provide cover for their actions. The
Potsdam Declaration and other Allied pronouncements called for change. Consistent
with these, SCAP from the outset of the Occupation instructed the Japanese
Government to take various democratic actions and to embark on constitutional
reform. Washington provided guidelines in the form of what is called the
State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee, SWNCC, No. 228, which presented outlines
for guidance drafted for the Constitution. However, as Beate Sirota mentioned,
MacArthur left the actual constitutional amendments to the Japanese until two
concurrent developments induced rapid, direct SCAP involvement.
The first of these was the Matsumoto draft, which had been unknown to SCAP
until it leaked to the press and proved to be a mere cosmetic change to the
Meiji Constitution and unacceptable. So it was decided that, rather than
discuss the Matsumoto draft, which would have been a profitless undertaking,
SCAP should prepare a draft constitution to be given to the Japanese as an
example of what would be acceptable, and that we were prepared to discuss this
The other element was that the Soviets had just joined the reconstituted Far
Eastern Commission, and under this reconstitution the power of veto was given to
the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and to the Soviet Union, which
might soon be causing considerable mischief as it has already been doing in
Berlin in attempting to undermine everything that the Democratic Allies wished
There was another element that was not possible to achieve, and this was the
April 10 elections. There were some who thought in the beginning that perhaps
the Constitution could be drafted in time to, or the draft could be approved by
the Diet in time to include it in the elections as a form of plebiscite, but
time did not permit that.
For those who are uncomfortable with these unusual origins, including the
aspect of pressure from SCAP, it should be remembered that the SCAP draft
reflected many of the views emanating from learned Japanese scholars, and that
discussions with the Cabinet resulted in certain modifications, that it was then
submitted as the Government's approved draft to the Diet, where it was discussed
at length, and where certain additional agreed changes were made before it was
approved overwhelmingly. It should also be remembered that the Emperor himself
helped resolve the divisions in the Cabinet, and supported the draft in
submitting it to the Diet.
I might mention as a little digression that I think it was about five years
ago that the new Emperor and the Empress were in Washington in connection with
the opening of a Japanese performance at the Kennedy Center. A reception was
given in which the Emperor and the Empress circulated quite freely amongst the
guests, and I had the temerity to introduce myself to the Emperor and to tell
him of my role in helping draft the Constitution concentrating on the Articles
on the Emperor. He smiled and said, "Yes, those are my
instructions." But my impression from this is that the Imperial Household
is quite agreeable with what constitutes the role of the Emperor as it was
contained in the draft constitution, which was eventually adopted in an amended
But in my view, it is more important to focus on the end product of the
drafting process than on the process itself. The motivation of the Allied
Powers was to see true democracy and a peaceful Japan under a system that could
not be misused by those who might wish to turn back the clock. This system
would enshrine the people's sovereignty, fundamental human rights, genuine
democracy, a constitutional monarchy without governmental powers, and the
renunciation of war, with assurance that these principles could not be abridged
or suspended for any reason. In establishing these principles, and in
providing the mechanisms to do so, I believe the Constitution has well served
the interests of the Japanese people, and helped Japan join the family of
This does not preclude the possibility of amendments, which, of course, are
permitted in the Constitution itself. But in my opinion, an individual
amendment should be considered only when and if needed, rather than through a
sweeping revision of the entire Constitution, for the latter process could well
open a Pandora's box of proposals. Those concerned and interested in a
particular amendment or amendments would be wise to consult widely to determine
whether there is real public demand for the change or whether this might be
tempered by some reserve as to where the process might lead. Some have
advocated modernization of the Constitution to meet the needs of the new
century, such as increased emphasis on environment, overpopulation, worldwide
disease, drugs and crime, and now problems of regulating new technological
advances. But it would be difficult to foresee what else the century will
bring. Questions such as these, as well as unforeseen problems, can better be
handled by legislation and judicial interpretation, I believe, than by burdening
the Constitution with too many operational details that tend to invite further
Thus I believe the Constitution should be a broad document which will
encompass changes incorporated through the changes in the conduct of the
Japanese Government that can be achieved by legislation and/or judicial
Now I wish to turn to just two specific provisions. First, the Articles on
the Emperor, in which I was directly involved. But I hasten to add that my
small committee consulted closely with the Steering Committee headed by Colonel
Kades, and was not the sole author of the language that we used. The Meiji
Constitution vested all rights of sovereignty in the Emperor, and it was this
provision, together with the provisions authorizing the suspension of
constitutional rights, that was used by the ultranationalists and militarists in
the Cabinet and Privy Council to act in the name of the Emperor in launching
military adventures and in muzzling the opposition. This had to change.
Moreover, there were some demands in Allied countries, and in the U.S.
Congress, to try Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal and to abolish the Emperor
institution, steps which would have caused enormous problems for the Occupation. No
one really knows what the Emperor's personal views were on Japanese aggressions. But
in the end, he had been useful to the Allies in broadcasting the surrender and
calling on the military to lay down their arms - the first time his voice had
been heard publicly - and on January 1st, 1946, in renouncing his divinity and
calling for constitutional reforms. Later, his support for the new draft
constitution was indeed helpful, even though it reduced his role.
What we aimed for in the draft was a constitutional monarchy, with the
Emperor divested of sovereign rights and governmental power, serving as a
"symbol of the state and of the unity of the people" who are
sovereign. Nevertheless his role was given some significance beyond pure
ceremonial by providing a number of functions subject to approval by the
The word "symbol," "shocho," raised some problems in
translation, but this was resolved satisfactorily by the use of the term
"shocho," which acquired the meaning that was intended by the drafters
of the Constitution and by the Japanese Government which approved the draft. So,
my impression is that this conveys what we meant and that it is generally
understood by the Japanese people and accepted by them. So the initial
controversy surrounding the position of the Emperor seems to have been set to
rest, and I for one am unaware of any substantial demand for amendment.
Second, there is the question of Article 9. I am told this remains the
most controversial provision of the Constitution, although the Diet in 1946 made
some changes in hopes of resolving doubts. Much has been written as to whether
the idea that became Article 9 originated with General Whitney and/or General
MacArthur, who conveyed it to Prime Minister Shidehara, or whether it originated
with Shidehara, as maintained by MacArthur in his Memoirs, and whether the
penciled notes containing this and other instructions to the Government Section
were written by MacArthur or dictated by MacArthur to Whitney; I don't think it
really matters at this juncture. That was a long ago, and we have got to look
at the present. I myself had nothing to do with this provision, except to
express some misgivings with respect to the permanent renunciation of any armed
forces following the Peace Treaty. By the way, this was in a meeting of the
entire drafting group where we were allowed to comment on whatever was under
discussion. It was one of first meetings and it was chaired by Colonel Kades.
But I thought perhaps some of what became Article 9 had a place in the
preamble as a declaration of intention, but I question whether this belonged in
the structural part of the Constitution. Colonel Kades turned to me and said:
Do you know where this provision comes from? He was a Colonel, and I was
ranked Ensign with one stripe. I said, "No, sir." And he said,
"The general." That meant only one person. He said, "Have you
any further questions?" and I said, "No, sir." And that was
the extent of my involvement.
But I have continued to be interested in the question to the point that I am
an advocate of constitutional change on this one provision. That doesn't mean
you open up the whole constitution for massive review, but I think this could be
looked at, that I think the first part of Article 9, renouncing war as a
sovereign right and the threat or use of force as a means of settling
international disputes, conforms to the 1928 Kellogg Briand Pact adopted by some
65 countries, and hence I think it is noncontroversial.
However, the controversy remains with respect to the second paragraph,
stating that in order to accomplish the foregoing, land, sea and air forces will
never be maintained. I believe it also says that the right of belligerency
will not be recognized. In point of fact, Japan does have armed forces in the
form of the so-called "Self-Defense Forces." You just have a
different name. And I think in the light of today's reality and the need for
Japan to assume responsibilities in international affairs on much the same basis
as other leading democracies, it strikes me that the current ambiguity should be
removed by providing for armed forces and that the role of the armed forces
should be limited to defense. Now the armed forces already exist, so this
would be talking about the role of an institution that already exists. This
role would be limited to defense, not just self-defense. There are other
possible occasions, and we have seen them in recent years, where defense beyond
one's borders is justified in connection with international cooperative
arrangements. In other words, this role would be defense, not just
self-defense, and participation in international peace-keeping operations, and
not just the United Nations, but certainly prominently the United Nations,
because of other international agreements.
I think here is a case where it would be essential to determine the will of
the people and to assure them, and to assure the countries that suffered under
Japanese conquest, that there is absolutely no intention to endanger them again.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Poole. Mr. Poole stated that the Emperor
visited the United States five years ago, but I believe that was an error in
timing, so I would like to reconfirm. I think it was back in 1975 when Emperor
Hirohito visited the United States. I believe he was referring to that.
Mr. Poole, am I correct? It is not that the present Emperor has been
involved, but in order to be very accurate and precise for the minutes of the
meeting, I would be grateful if you could once again clarify later. I believe
you were referring to Emperor Hirohito's visit to the United States back in
Now, Prof. Esman, who is not present today, has already submitted to us the
paper to be presented to this Research Commission on the Constitution. I would
like to ask Mr. Takemi, the Director of the Commission, to read the paper on
behalf of Professor Esman. Mr. Takemi, would you be kind enough to come over
TAKEMI: Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to read the paper submitted by
The members of the Government Section of SCAP, who were called upon in
February 1946, to draft a new constitution for the Japanese nation, were
naturally influenced by the American philosophy and experience with the
government. The American concept of a national constitution is a charter of
limited government that safeguards the basic rights and freedoms of the people
and provides government with powers sufficient to satisfy the ever-changing
needs of society, while insuring the stability and continuity of the political
order. Since it is intended to endure for a long period of time, for decades
and even centuries, a constitution must serve as a living charter for
government, flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions that could not have
been anticipated at the time the constitution was enacted.
At that time, I expressed my opposition to the method that was chosen to
draft the new constitution. I believed that while a new democratically
inspired charter of government was needed to replace the authoritarian Meiji
Constitution, it was important that a group of democratically oriented Japanese
scholars and opinion leaders should participate in and contribute to this
project. Otherwise, the new constitution would be regarded as a foreign
imposition that would not survive the end of the Occupation. But since I was a
young and very junior officer in the military headquarters, my objections were
easily brushed aside. Subsequent events, however, have proved me wrong. The
great majority of the Japanese people adopted the MacArthur-Showa Constitution
as their own, and have zealously defended it, because despite its awkward
language, it expresses their genuine political aspirations.
My colleagues and I at that time were frequently and solemnly warned by
senior officials of the Japanese Government that the Japanese public was not
sufficiently mature or educated to operate a democratic government, that the
necessary processes of education would require at least a century, and that any
effort, however well-intentioned, to install a democratic regime prematurely
would lead to certain disaster. We were not impressed by these warnings, and
our respect for the political maturity and sound judgment of the Japanese people
have since been fully vindicated.
Though the Showa Constitution, like all constitutions, contains many
specific provisions, far more important are the basic principles that inspire
it. These principles were intended to serve as guidelines in future years for
applying the language of the charter to fresh challenges and changing needs. I
believe the Showa Constitution incorporates nine guiding principles:
One: The Japanese state is a constitutional monarchy in which sovereignty
resides with the Japanese people speaking and acting through elected
representatives at the National Diet. These representatives are freely chosen
in periodic, competitive elections.
Two: Executive powers are exercised by the Cabinet composed entirely of
civilians and chaired by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet is responsible to the
peoples' representatives and must at all times command the confidence of a
majority of the House of Representatives.
Three: Basic human rights for all individuals, including freedom of belief
and expression, of assembly and association, are inviolable and must be
safeguarded by government.
Four: All persons are equal before the law. There may be no
discrimination or unequal treatment because of race, religion, gender, ethnic
background or class origin.
Five: The rule of law shall prevail at all times and no person may be
deprived of life, liberty or property, or condemned for criminal behavior except
as provided by law. Judges must apply the constitution and the laws completely
independently of political influences.
Six: Government shall promote social welfare, social security and public
health, and provide free, compulsory, and equal access to public education.
Seven: No taxes shall be levied or moneys expended except as specifically
authorized by the Diet.
Eight: Regional and local government shall be based on the principle of
maximum feasible autonomy.
Nine: Japan will never undertake aggressive military action, but will
participate actively in the international community of peace-loving nations.
If we were able to assemble once again the men and women of the Government
Section of GHQ, whose labors produced the Showa Constitution nearly 55 years
ago, instead of the very few of us who now remain, I am confident they would
agree that what matters most and what they hoped would infuse Japanese
Government in the years ahead are these basic principles of enlightened
democratic government. As long as these guiding principles are respected, the
language of the Constitution would provide ample scope for dealing with problems
that would confront the people and their government in future years.
How then are constitutions brought up to date, so that they can effectively
serve future generations? Formal amendments are sometimes unavoidable in order
to overcome specific language or to change the basic institutions of the state. Such
was the case in my country when constitutional amendments were found to be
necessary to abolish slavery, to enfranchise women, and to limit the tenure of
Office of Presidents to two four year terms. Any proposal in Japan for the
popular election of a President or Prime Minister, since it would alter the
institutional structure of the state, would similarly require a formal
amendment. But procedures for formal amendments in your constitution as well
as in ours tend to be cumbersome, and to allow small but determined minorities
to block measures that are considered necessary by the great majority of the
So, the more common method of adjusting the fundamental law to changing
conditions is by interpreting the language of the constitution in the light of
these guiding principles to apply to new circumstances. This has been the
method used in the United States, and that has enabled the Federal Government to
cope with problems such as regulating airline traffic, safeguarding privacy on
the Internet, and protecting the environment from chemical pollution, that could
not possibly have been foreseen by the authors of our Constitution more than two
hundred years ago. The men and women who drafted the Showa Constitution 55
years ago were familiar with this method of constitutional interpretation for
enabling government to do what is needed to stay up to date and to meet its
Governmental action that can reasonably be implied from the language of the
constitution is permitted, even though it is not explicitly authorized. Thus
the Diet and the Supreme Court interpreted Article 9 correctly, in my opinion,
to authorize a self-defense force on the reasonable assumption that all nations
enjoy the inherent right to self-defense. Likewise, the preamble recognizing
that "no nation is responsible to itself alone" implies Japan's
obligation as a major beneficiary of international peace and order, to
contribute its share of money, materials and personnel, including military
units, to UN sponsored peace-keeping and peace-enforcing missions.
In this connection, I recall that my colleagues in 1946 had just witnessed
and many had directly experienced the horrors and terrible suffering caused by
six years of unrestricted warfare in Europe and Asia. They dreaded the
prospect of nuclear warfare. They were hopeful that mankind would finally have
learned its lesson, that it would find the means through international
cooperation to prevent future warfare, and that post-Imperial Japan in the
company of other peace-loving nations would participate fully in maintaining
international peace. I cannot believe they would have favored any
constitutional provision that would prevent or limit Japan's full participation
in UN sponsored peace-keeping or peace-enforcing missions.
These then are the main thoughts that I would leave with this distinguished
One: A national constitution should facilitate, not obstruct or prevent
policies or course of action that its elected representatives, after careful and
thoughtful deliberation, consider necessary for the good of the nation.
Two: The most common and most practicable method for meeting fresh
challenges and for revising public policy is by the reasonable interpretation of
constitutional language and of the great principles that underlie the charter of
government. Formal amendments should be attempted only as a last resort.
Three: The men and women of the Government Section in 1946 had optimistic
hopes for the new United Nations. They believed strongly in the need for
international cooperation. They expected that once it had been restored to
honored membership in the community of nations, Japan would become a leading
supporter of and full participant in UN sponsored activities to achieve
international peace and order.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. We have heard the presentation of the two
guest speakers plus the reading of another guest speaker who could not come.
We are behind schedule, but the presentations and remarks were very
interesting, so we to exceed the allotted time since we couldn't just stop the
presentations midway. Our guests have traveled a long distance to be with us
today, so I felt I couldn't interrupt their presentations. We were supposed to
have a fifteen minute break, but we will break for only five minutes. So let
us resume this session in five minutes.
CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, we will now be resuming the session for the
Commission. We would like to continue with our research on the Constitution
through questions from the members of the Commission. Since the time is
limited, I would like to ask the member asking the question to address it to the
guest speaker concerned and to please be very brief in your question. We have
already asked the members to give their names to the Secretariat, and we will be
having one round of all the political parties in the House of Councillors.
First of all, I would like to call upon Mr. Kuze.
KUZE: I would like to thank the two guest speakers who are indeed the
founding father and mother of the Japanese Constitution. Thank you very much
for traveling such a long distance to attend the Commission.
CHAIRMAN: Could you please state which political party you belong to.
KUZE: I am a member of the LDP and the New Conservative Party.
Ever since the Constitution was enacted, Japan's society and economy have
been undergoing various significant developments. On the international front,
there have been requests for a bigger role and mission or Japan to play in the
international community as the situation has changed after the ending of the
Cold War. And because of the changes in the industrial structure as well as
the national livelihood, the values of the public are also changing. In order
to respond to such changes, we have been doing our utmost to expand the
interpretation of the Constitution, but we have come to its limit. Consequently,
there have been many voices asking for the review and amendment of the
Constitution. Thus we now have established Research Commissions on the
Constitution both in the House of Councillors as well as the House of
I would like to ask a question to the two guest speakers from the point of
view of international as well as domestic crisis management. There have been
many developments which scare us very much. For instance, the security issue
on the Korean Peninsula including the launching of the missiles by the DPRK as
well as the sarin gas attack in the Japanese subway and the big Kobe earthquake. The
Japanese public are indeed very frightened that the security and safety in Japan
is at stake. We are also very worried about the eruption of Mt. Usu. Very
recently we have many problems relating to crisis management.
I would like first of all ask a question to Mr. Poole. Mr. Poole, you
mentioned earlier that it would be very demanding if we are to have a
comprehensive review of the Constitution, but perhaps we need to scrutinize some
of the specific articles. You mentioned the example of Article 9, that the
provision of the armed forces to be limited to just international peace-keeping
operations as well as self-defense should be made clearer. I know you are well
aware that with regard to the self-defense forces law established in 1954, the
peace-keeping operation law, and the defense cooperation guidelines between
Japan and the United States on surrounding areas' emergencies, we will be
increasingly establishing a system for crisis management. We have been
responding to changes as they occur and have been engaged in an expansive
interpretation of Article 9. But the interpretation of Article 9 itself alone
would be restrictive; it as its limits. When it comes to self-defense as well
as international peace-keeping operations, there will be bottlenecks such as
collective self-defense as well as collective security under the United Nations. More
than an expansive interpretation, perhaps we need to amend Article 9 through a
national consensus. Could you please state your views on this particular
When you visited us back in 1997, I believe you stated that Article 9 needs
to be amended. I think that was your position then. I was planning to ask
Professor Esman about crisis management, especially the relationship between
domestic crisis management and the executive powers responding to it, but since
he is not here, I would be grateful if Mr. Poole would be kind enough to give
his answer to this question. Since many crises may not be predictable, we need
to have sound and solid preparedness and readiness.
As for provisions for a national emergency, there is only Article 54, the
convocation of an emergency session of the House of Councillors. There are no
other provisions relating to national emergencies. Since is the collegiate
panel of the Cabinet that has executive power, the power resting with the Prime
Minister is perhaps too weak. So I would like to hear the views of Mr. Poole
as to the review of the Constitution vis-a-vis the development of a good system
for crisis management.
I also have a question for Mrs. Beate Sirota Gordon. You have made various
proposals for the women's rights as well as women's welfare. In 1999, we were
able to establish the basic law for a gender equal society. Thus the status of
women has been made stronger and being reinforced. I think this represents
very good progress in Japan.
The establishment of human rights is indeed very necessary. But on the
other hand, at a time of crisis, in order to protect the public welfare and the
safety of the people, individual rights may be severely restricted. Natural
disasters and other crises may occur. How would you regard the relationship
between the state and the people and between public obligations and individual
freedom and rights? That is to say, human rights should be restricted at some
times in order to protect the public welfare. What is your view on this?
As Ms. Gordon has already mentioned, at the time of the drafting of the
Constitution, you urged to have the home to be the basis for the mankind and to
be inserted into the language of the Constitution. When we observe the
Japanese society right now, I feel strongly the necessity of the insertion of
such wording. What is your view on this?
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Poole, would you be kind enough to respond to the questions
asked by Mr. Kuze?
POOLE: I'd appreciate it very much if you could rephrase your question
clearly and simply, because your voice is so loud that I can't hear the
interpreter. So could we try again?
KUZE: I am very sorry about that, sir. As you have stated earlier,
regarding Article 9. . .
CHAIRMAN: Please do not repeat the speech. Could you be very brief?
KUZE: Yes. Regarding Article 9, self-defense and international
peace-keeping operations should be the two things to which use of the armed
forces is restricted. I agree with you on this. But there are certain
bottlenecks, such as collective self-defense as well as the collective security
under the United Nations.
CHAIRMAN: In view of Mr. Poole's age, could you ask the questions one by one.
KUZE: Could you state your views on Article 9 once again, please.
POOLE: Well, I will repeat the views that I have already expressed, but my
suggestion is that Article 9 should clarify the role of the armed forces. And
as the armed forces already exist under a different name, I am not suggesting
that the Article create the armed forces because they are already there. The
suggestion is to clarify the point of bringing the Constitution in line with
reality. And hopefully this clarification would go some distance in putting to
rest the dissension over Article 9 and the dissension over the interpretation of
Article 9. Make it clear. My suggestion was to state that the armed forces
should be limited to defense and participation in international peace-keeping
operations. That's it.
But the rationale for it is that we hope that Japan now, as a major power
and a member of the democratic nations of the world, should participate on the
same basis as other democratic nations. I realize the difficulties,
particularly when looking at the countries that suffered under Japanese
occupation. But this suggestion doesn't create armed forces; they already
exist. It would define what they should do, and the definition is what's
I have to add, and I should have mentioned this in the first place, that
Japan has contributed assistance to operations such as the Gulf War, Cambodia,
and elsewhere, providing very useful assistance. And that is appreciated. But
Japan is reluctant to join other countries who feel the need to take military
action under international peace-keeping operations. So you have to proceed
with caution because of the likely reaction, particularly amongst the countries
that suffered under the Japanese occupation. Therefore my suggestion is that
any intention to make this change be clarified to those countries, making it
clear that there is no intention of resuming aggressive warfare.
Now, the language I suggest obviously can be improved, but this is the
suggestion. And also, besides assuring the countries that suffered under
Japanese aggression, that it should be determined whether the people want this
I don't know whether that answers your question, but that's the best I can
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Mrs. Gordon, please.
GORDON: I have already spoken too long, so I shall be very brief. I have to
apologize for my earlier too lengthy statement.
To cut down on human rights is very dangerous. Thus, amending of the
Constitution may be dangerous in this regard. You can establish a law, on the
other hand, so perhaps under the Civil Code you could insert new provisions. Japan
is a member of the Human Rights Commission, and the convention was signed in
1979. And many languages included in the question, I believe, have been
sourced from the Convention. But the word "public welfare" may be
very risky, inherently risky, in the way how you use it. I am not a political
scientist myself, but I think you need to be cautious. Rather than amending
the Constitution, of course, you can resort to interpretations of the
Constitution as well as establishing laws.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I would now like to turn to Ms. Sasano.
SASANO: First of all, I would like to thank the Chairman of this Commission. This
is the last year of the twentieth century and this Research Commission is a
major event. It is wonderful to have an event like this.
Mr. Chairman, the LDP people . . .
CHAIRMAN: You can always talk to me, so you don't have to address me at this
SASANO: But this is very important. I have to say this. The revision for
the Constitution seems to be the majority view, you said, but amongst women at
least, there is no such movement. We believe that current Constitution is a
wonderful thing. That is the view of women and it is my own opinion. After
all, it is very important to listen to others' views. I hope that the Chairman
will listen to the others' views. You should not make too much haste. I hope
that you will lead the discussion so that we can come up with a Constitution
which would be good for the 21st century. That is my introduction.
Mr. Chairman, you have a very warm consideration for women. Thank you very
CHAIRMAN: Well, being energetic and making haste are different.
SASANO: Please be cautious. You can be energetic, but please be careful.
I have a question to Mrs. Gordon, first. But before asking this question,
I think I heard something very important, and if you couldn't read some
important part because the Chairman urged you to make haste, you can read again
what you intended to read.
You were very enthusiastic about women's rights. Mrs. Gordon's wonderful
opinion was something that I would like to mention. In Article 24 of course it
is retained, but more than that, Mrs. Sirota, you referred to work and the right
of work. According to your draft, women have the right to be employed in any
profession, and this includes the political profession. And women have right
to be receive equal pay with men in any profession. So, marriage and the
family are very important, but I think the same work and the same pay, and the
right to work, are also very important. Such a good draft was made fifty years
ago. I would like to pay my deepest tribute to you, Mrs. Gordon.
But although we talk about equal work and equal pay, according to the Labor
Ministry's statistics, in 1948, women received 41.8 percent of the pay of men. Eight
years ago, this percentage was 63.9. But when women reach a certain age, 50
and over, it decreases, comes down to something like 53 percent. So I have a
question, Mrs. Gordon. When you drafted this provision that women can work and
should work, what kind of ideal did you have?
And also, do you have any comment on the reality in Japan, where Japanese
women's pay is about one half of what men receive?
GORDON: This is not only a question for Japanese women. In the United
States, it took a lot of time to come to where we are. We have a long
tradition of democracy. Even today, if a man earns 1 dollar, a woman would
earn only 80 cents. So, come to think of it, you have only 50 years of
history, and still you have 63 percent. It's wonderful. It's enormous,
compared with the long history of the United States; 80 percent in 200 years. But
you attained 63 percent in 50 years only. So, again, congratulations to you,
Japanese women. Japanese women are very active; you have worked very hard. That's
why you have achieved this.
But come to think of it, historically speaking, fifty-five years is not a
long time. Such issues take time. In 1945, Japan was a conservative country,
but now Japan has made drastic changes. So it is very difficult to make a leap
from there to here.
I think from now on you will make sweeping advances. You have the
computers, you have the Internet, you have the process of globalization. So I
am positive that from this point onward Japanese women will make great strides
SASANO: Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: I will allow you to ask one more question.
SASANO: Mrs. Gordon, in Article 27 you have left a very important concept,
and I think it was very significant for Japanese women. I hope that we will
work hard to reach 100 percent. And I hope that the current constitution will
not undergo any backward changes.
Next, I would like to talk about the academic understanding of the
Constitution. Mrs. Gordon, when you drafted the Constitution, in Japan,
including universities and high schools, this wonderful Constitution was taught
in educational institutions. But from around 1955, the Constitution has been
taught less and less in educational institutions. Especially in the case of
women's colleges, the Constitution has become an elected subject. And in
universities, except for the Faculty of Law, it has become only an elective
subject and not a compulsory subject. Most graduates from women's colleges
don't know anything about the Constitution. The Constitution is wonderful
guarantee of women's rights, and yet the Japanese people are beginning to
discuss the revision of the Constitution without really learning about it or
really knowing its contents. The reality is that the Constitution is not a
compulsory subject; even in men's universities, there are less and less
opportunities for men to study the Constitution.
Mrs. Gordon, do you have any opinion about this reality? This is the
policy of the Ministry of Education. I think it is very dangerous. That is
CHAIRMAN: Mrs. Gordon.
GORDON: Again, this is also the situation in the United States. Nowadays,
young people, I don't know the reason, don't go to vote. So situation is the
same as in Japan. They have lost interest; they don't know, and they don't act
according to the rights they have provided with. Probably this is the quality
of education, or that people are disenchanted with certain politicians or simply
not interested. I think generally the situation is the same in those countries
I mentioned earlier. 22 years old at that time and 22 years old now are so
different. At that time, we went to vote. We never abstained. And we were
engaged in various political movements. Even women were involved in political
So I hope that you will go out and give lectures to educate people so that
they will read the Constitution. I very much hope you will do this. The
situation is the same in the United States.
CHAIRMAN: This morning Mrs. Gordon appeared on NHK and she said that she was
satisfied with gender relations in Japan. I just wanted to make that addition.
SASANO: I think she made just a flattering comment.
CHAIRMAN: Let us go on to the next person.
TAKANO: My name is Takano and I am from the New Komeito and Reformers
Network. I would like to thank the two guest speakers for their great
First of all, allow me to ask a question to Ms. Gordon. When you sat on
the Subcommittee on Civil Rights, you were only 22 years old and had been living
in Japan. Regarding the questions of women's rights and children's rights you
played an important role, for which I would like to express my heartfelt
appreciation and respect. You had experience of living in Japan and you were
cognizant about the social position of women and familiar with tradition and
culture of Japan. You were a rare commodity.
And I was surprised to learn that the original draft by the Subcommittee
even contained a proposal concerning the civil rights of foreigners. I take it
that the substantial part of the section you drafted on women's rights was
omitted in the end. The Constitution strictly upholds the equality of the
This question is not directly related to the Constitution, but I would like
to ask your views concerning Japanese women then and now. What is your
reaction to the Japanese women of that time and Japanese women now?
Finally, do you have any message that you would like to give to women in
Japan in the forthcoming 21st century?
Let me go on to my question addressed to Mr. Poole. What do you think
about the fact that the Japanese Constitution has never been revised to this
day? People have pointed out the gap between the Constitution and reality,
and I believe this has reached its limit. I don't think you could have
foreseen that this Constitution drawn up in just nine days would not be revised
for more than fifty years.
Incidentally, when the Constitution was drafted, I hear you made a remark
saying that since the Japanese people have a mysterious way of thinking, we
should prohibit any amendment of the Constitution for ten years to ensure that
Japanese people learn the meaning of democracy. Do you have any reaction to
I have another question. You have already referred to this in your answer
to a previous question, but allow me to ask you this question nevertheless. You
have mentioned that the Japanese Constitution can be amended and that Article 9
has to be made more clear, enabling the Japanese forces to take part in
international peace-keeping operations, activities, and so forth.
CHAIRMAN: Please be brief in asking your question.
TAKANO: General MacArthur was said to have upheld his idea on this matter of
Article 9. Do you think General MacArthur wanted to be regarded as one of the
great statesmen in the history books published in the future? Did you have
that impression of General MacArthur at the time?
GORDON: My message to Japanese women in the 21st century is: On a daily basis
Japanese women have to fight toward gaining the same rights as men, achieving
the same position as men, and this struggle has to continue without any
suspension. You also have to get involved in political activities, including
international activities. When the Conference was held in Beijing, five
thousand Japanese women were said to have taken part, which was a remarkable
thing. And at the same time, I think we still cannot find peace in the world
because there are various different regions suffering from conflict, so peace
will be a major issue in the 21st century.
I think women are more peaceful than men. It's a mission given to women
that for the sake of peace, on a daily basis, women have to fight hard. And I
encourage Japanese women to take part in this.
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Poole, would you give your answer please.
POOLE: There were several questions. Which was the one directed to me?
TAKANO: Let me just rephrase my last question. About General MacArthur, it
was said that General MacArthur insisted that the renunciation of war should be
included in Article 9. Do you think he insisted on this because he wanted to
be described as a great statesman in the history books?
POOLE: I really don't know what MacArthur's own motivations were for the
future. But I do know that he said afterwards, after he left Japan, that he
considered the Constitution his prime achievement in the Occupation. But
whether it was political motivations, the political situation in the United
States, I frankly don't know. But in a way, I think, while this Article 9 was
promoted by him or agreed to by him, I imagine that when the Korean War broke
out, for instance, he had some other thoughts about whether Article 9 was
realistic. But this is pure speculation. He didn't tell me.
I will make one point, and I am digressing: I think there was a
misunderstanding earlier about my meeting with the Emperor. This was Emperor
Akihito, shortly after his accession. I can't tell you exactly how long ago this
was; it was something like four or five years ago, at a reception at the Kennedy
Center, where he and the Empress were present, and they circulated freely
amongst the other guests. The occasion was a Japanese presentation at the
Kennedy Center for the performing arts. I was perhaps a little bold in
mentioning to him that I had had a role in drafting the articles on the Emperor. But
he was amused and said, "Those are my instructions." In other words,
the existing Constitution, the Showa Constitution, comprised his instructions
with respect to the role of the Emperor. That is all. I thought he was quite
relaxed in saying this, and it indicated to me that he had no problem with that
article. But this was not the earlier visit of Emperor Hirohito. It was
CHAIRMAN: All right. I understand.
Did you get Mr. Takano's question? Let me try to rephrase the question for
you. Are you satisfied with the answer given? Okay. It would be helpful if
you enumerate your question and ask them one by one. Let us go on to the next
May I now call upon Ms. Yoshikawa?
YOSHIKAWA: My name is Yoshikawa and I belong to the Japan Communist Party. I
have questions for the two guest speakers. I would like to express my
heartfelt gratitude for your very impressive as well as very interesting
May I first of all ask Mr. Richard Poole the following question?
The Japanese Constitution was enacted under the acceptance of the Potsdam
Declaration, and the content of that was based upon President Roosevelt's Four
Freedoms Policy as well as the Atlantic Charter, the Charter of the United
Nations and the Potsdam Declaration. Anti-fascism and anti-militarism were the
bases of the spirit of the Four Freedoms Policy as well as all the documents I
have cited. There is heightened interest in Japan in this spirit.
I am proud that Japan, which played a role in sparking World War II that
caused devastation to the world, learned a lesson from the War and adopted
Article 9. Mr. Poole, as a person directly involved in the drafting of the
Constitution, what are your feelings and impressions of this? Could you also
comment on the fact that the GHQ-drafted Constitution was prepared in just one
week, which is a focus of criticism. In many of the studies on the Japanese
Constitution, the State Department had for many years been involved in the study
of the constitution prior to the War or before 1945. So would you say that the
drafting by GHQ of the Japanese Constitution was the culmination of the many
years of study by the Department of State, or was it totally independent from
this study? This is my question to Mr. Poole.
Now, turning to Mrs. Gordon, in drafting the historic Constitution in Japan,
I am sure you had read the various constitutions of different countries, and
that you had also observed the very unfortunate fate of Japanese women, and had
perhaps considered the women's rights that had been overlooked in of Japan. You
were also trying to come up with precise and detailed language so that Japanese
women would not have to suffer subsequently. This was not a present from
MacArthur, but as Lieutenant Weed mentioned when he visited the various
villages, it was the product of the fight of all Japanese women for many years
before the War. I was very impressed that amongst the staff of the GHQ there
were many who were very friendly and very close to Japanese women. As we have
seen from the campaign for democracy, including the demand for women's suffrage
ever since the First World War, GHQ was able to incorporate these movements
before the War into the campaign of Japan's women.
In your book, I believe you mentioned that there was no arrogant atmosphere
of imposing on Japan a constitution drafted by the soldiers of the victorious
country. Rather, it seems that you were so immersed in trying to come up with
the ideal nation that you wanted to incorporate into the new Japanese
constitution state-of-the-art rules and regulations. That is my question for
CHAIRMAN: May I first of all ask Mr. Poole to answer the question? Mr.
Poole, were you able to understand the gist of the question to you?
POOLE: Only one question? There seemed to be several, but I believe you the
last one you asked was: Were the drafters and GHQ SCAP in the Government Section
aware or drafting in accordance with State Department studies and positions on
The State Department view was conveyed in November 1945, through the
document I referred to, called the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee, SWNCC
228. This document was prepared both in the War and Navy Departments, which
were then separate departments, and in the State Department. And Dr. Hugh
Borton, who then was in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs, which we now call
East Asian Affairs, had a very major role in drafting that. He was assisted by
Marshall Green, who had been personal assistant to Ambassador Grew, and who
later on became Ambassador to Japan. These were views conveyed by the State
Department in this document. That document was before all of us when we
drafted the Constitution, or prepared the draft of the Constitution for
presentation to the Japanese.
Now, MacArthur, I must say, was not inclined to consult the State Department
very much. The political Advisor to General MacArthur was kept very much at
arm's length. MacArthur didn't consider that he needed political advice.
So the Constitution, as you know, was drafted behind closed doors, and
Washington wasn't even informed that this was going on until after the fact. The
Office of the Political Advisor, which was the State Department Office, did not
know this was going on. Of course I felt a little doubt about that since my
basic career was in the diplomatic service, but I was in uniform and I was under
instructions, and I was acting as a young naval officer. I did not run over to
the Political Advisors Office to tell them what was happening, nor to ask for
better advice. But, as I say, this document, SWNCC 228, which provided
guidelines for a future constitution, was drafted jointly with the State
Department and the two military departments in Washington.
Was that the question, and was that the answer?
CHAIRMAN: Yes, I believe so. Yes. Mrs. Gordon, please.
GORDON: About Mr. Weed, he was not a member of GHQ; he was involved in some
other job. I think I met him once or twice. When we drafted the
Constitution, this was quite confidential. We were not able to consult with
anybody outside. But I knew that Mr. Weed had done a superb job. And after
ten years or so, I met with Mr. Weed in New York, and I learned many things from
him. I agree with your view that he has done a lot of good things for Japanese
Regarding the question whether, in preparing the GHQ's draft constitution,
we did research into past movements of Japanese women, I did not have enough
time to do research. Of course I did refer to the constitutions of the other
countries, but I was not able to consult anybody else. I knew that the
Japanese women were engaged in many movements for the rights of women, but of
course I did not know the details. I was able to come to know the details long
after that, in 1952, when I served as interpreter to Ms. Fusae Ichikawa, who was
a Diet member at the time.
As for human rights, when we drafted the section on human rights, of course
we wanted to draft an ideal constitution. We wanted to have the best to be
incorporated into the draft constitution. I myself did not have any direct
involvement in the clause on peace or security, but of course I knew that the
clause would be inserted. I thought that it would be good for Japan because
other Asian countries had suffered from the consequences, and if militarism was
categorically denied and eliminated in Japan, it would give a sense of security
to these other countries. And if a peace constitution could be established,
this would become a good model to be emulated by other countries. That was our
hope. Yes, we did have that in mind.
CHAIRMAN: Next, I would like to call upon Ms. Masako Owaki.
OWAKI: Thank you very much. My name is Owaki and I represent the Social
Democratic Party. Thank you very much for coming such a long way to share with
us your invaluable comments. Thank you very much for your participation.
First of all, I have a question for Mr. Poole. At the time the MacArthur
draft was made, the Research Committee on the Constitution composed of Japanese
journalists and researchers prepared and released their own constitution
including an outline draft based upon the doctrine that sovereignty resides with
the people. You have stated that the MacArthur Draft reflected many of the
views of Japanese scholars and research institutions. But do you recall
specifically who these people were who were consulted, and what kind of
materials were referred to? Do you remember concretely who they were and what
kind of materials you consulted?
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Poole.
POOLE: I can give you some of the names of the organizations, but I'd have to
look into my notes. They appear in one of Charles Kades studies. I know that
in my little section we did have an opportunity to look at a couple of these
drafts. I think they were particularly studied by the Steering Committee
itself, by Colonel Rowell, who, before the constitutional exercise, was in
charge of the Judicial Branch of the Government Section.
Now, did you mention the Kenpo Kenkyukai, the Constitution Research Group?
Yes, actually Colonel Rowell made a study of that earlier on January 11th,
and he found a lot of merit in that draft. And that was one of the ones that
Colonel Kades later lists. I don't know whether you want me to read out the
lists of drafts that were looked at.
OWAKI: Yes, please read it.
CHAIRMAN: No, we do not have time.
OWAKI: But it's very important.
CHAIRMAN: I'm sorry, but it's going to waste time. Other people have
questions. It will take too much time if he reads it out, so please could you
submit the material later on so that we can read it.
OWAKI: Please give us the list later on.
POOLE: I could make a photostat of what Colonel Kades wrote and give it to
you, but that was one example, and there are others mentioned here that were
prepared by learned groups. And these were, of course, influential in this
I think one of my regrets is that there wasn't time to make a study of all
the proposals nor was there time to examine all of the constitutions of the
world. Beate Sirota collected some of those for our benefit. We had time to
study some of them, including our own. But anyway, there were many sources for
the action taken by the drafters of the draft constitution. There were many
influences. It wasn't just born full-formed from that one week session. There
were other influences.
OWAKI: Thank you very much, Mr. Poole. Now, I have another question for
you, Mr. Poole. The MacArthur note began with the words "the Emperor is
at the head of the state." And as translated into Japanese, what was the
content of this phrase, "the Emperor is at the head of the state"?
And who came up with the idea to use the word "symbol"?
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Poole.
POOLE: Well, first of all, General MacArthur was not a constitutional
scholar, and he didn't make a distinction between a chief of state and a head of
government. When they wrote "the Emperor is at the head of the
state," it wasn't very clear what he meant. So we decided that he meant a
constitutional monarch. If you draw a chart, you'd have him at the top, but in
a symbolic position, and then you'd have the Cabinet and the Diet and the
people. But that doesn't mean that that's a descending order of importance. And
so, with the agreement of Colonel Kades, we used the term "symbol." We
didn't invent the term; it has been used before. But this is the first time,
to my knowledge, that it has been used as part of a constitution. We could have
thought of some other term, but this conveyed what we had in mind, and I think
the term "shocho" come to mean what we had in mind and that this
provision has become acceptable.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.
OWAKI: I have one more question, this time for Mrs. Beate Sirota Gordon. Article
24 on the dignity of individuals and the essential equality of men and women is
something which is so drastically and fundamentally encouraging to all of us in
Japan. Susan J. Pharr, a scholar who lectured in Japan in 1977, said that in
whichever area a reform may be needed, the authority of selection was not given
from somewhere high above, but it was given to the Committee itself. In other
words, the authority to select the theme was spontaneous. Is it true? Is it
true that it came not from above but from within?
Now, regarding the spirit of Article 24, was there any rift between the
military and civilians in the occupying forces? I suppose there was opposition
or resistance from the Japanese Government. And what was the attitude of the
women's movement in Japan at that time? Can you elaborate on those things? In
concrete terms, what kind of opposition and what kind of rift or confrontations
GORDON: Within the Steering Committee, you mean?
GORDON: You mean, not the Japanese representatives but between Colonel Kades
and Dr. Rowell?
OWAKI: Yes. And also, in the Japanese Government, as I think you mentioned.
GORDON: Well, this may be lengthy, so please limit my remarks. This is
going to take some time.
As far as Hussey, Rowell and Kades on the American side are concerned, they
were lawyers, so they had very good knowledge of American constitution. There
was no mention of women in the American Constitution, nor of the social welfare
or women's rights. These people had that kind of background. They knew that
the Civil Code must incorporate these matters, but they did not think it was not
an appropriate subject for the Japanese Constitution. I said that European
constitutions were different, but I couldn't convince them.
But before he passed away two years ago, Colonel Kades told me that they
listened to what we said and didn't decide right away to shorten it. They
discussed this matter with General Whitney and afterwards decided to cut it
altogether, but it wasn't an abrupt or an easy decision. Perhaps something
registered in their minds deep down.
But the Japanese representatives, at the very end of the process, at the
last meeting of the Steering Committee and the Japanese Government, the last
liaison meeting, if you will, between the two parties, the Japanese side said
that such and such rights were not suited to Japanese culture, not congruous
with Japanese civilization and so forth. But there was not much of a
discussion because at that time Colonel Kades limited or restrained that kind of
So beyond what I said, there was not much resistance from the Japanese
OWAKI: How about the reaction of the women's movement in Japan? Do you know
any reaction from the Japanese women's movement?
GORDON: At that time, you mean? The Japanese women's movement?
OWAKI: For example, there was the general election in between.
GORDON: Of course, I saw it directly with my own eyes. It was the first
general election. I went there and was surprised because old women, young
women, everybody came out and cast their votes. I hope that they will all come
out and cast their ballots today too. It was wonderful - it was an enormous
achievement in those days. So I'm sorry to have to say that women of 22 and 50
were much better those of 22 and 50 today.
CHAIRMAN: Please continue. Mr. Hirano.
HIRANO: My name is Hirano and I am from the House of Councillors Club. It
feels like the Constitution is being drafted again at this meeting here today,
so I am very pleased to be here.
Mr. Poole, I have two questions about the debate at GHQ on the provisions of
the revised constitution. According to Mr. Rowell's document, with regard to
the revision of the Constitution, it was said that there was going to be a
prohibition of any revision for ten years after the enactment of the
Constitution. And later on, any proposal for revisions to the Constitution
should be discussed at the Diet. Was the meaning behind this that for the
initial ten year period the Constitution was to continue under the control of
the Allied Forces but it could be revised by the Japanese people after ten
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Poole.
POOLE: Well, there were various versions of the terms of amendment under
discussion, and I am not really sure what document you are talking about,
because what was submitted to the Japanese Government was not what you relate. But
while we debated amongst ourselves the terms of the amendments, there were
various ideas including this one. But this was not presented to the Japanese
What some wanted to do was to make it difficult to amend, and to prevent
rapid amendment, the fear being that once Japan became a sovereign state again
that the Constitution would be scrapped. And that was the idea, I imagine,
behind the document you are referring to, which must be an informal memo of some
kind. There were even thoughts that the Japanese Government should be required
to review the Constitution every ten years.
But all of these different ideas were blended, or not really blended, but
were not what was really submitted to the Japanese Government. You are
familiar with the articles on amendment now that the amendment can be made at
any time that the Japanese Government and the Diet and people agree to make it. But
it is difficult just as amending our own constitution is not easy. You know
the provisions of what was submitted to the Japanese Government. And if you
would like, I will see if I can put my hands on it.
CHAIRMAN: Do you have a second question?
HIRANO: No, I am satisfied with the answer given.
CHAIRMAN: May I call upon Mr. Michio Sato?
SATO: Yes, thank you. My name is Sato. Mrs. Gordon earlier mentioned the
name of Ms. Fusae Ichikawa in relation to the women's suffrage movement. I
actually belong to the same party or group she belonged to, the Niin Club.
I would like to ask Mr. Poole whether he thinks there may be certain limits
to the possible amendment of the Constitution. To change and revise the basic
philosophy of the Constitution is something that needs to be prevented because
this be a coup or a revolution. The current Constitution is based on three
principles: firstly, that sovereignty rests with the Japanese people; secondly,
that the human rights of citizens should be respected to the utmost; and
thirdly, the upholding of peace and pacifism. Therefore reverting sovereignty
once again to the Emperor is prohibited and it is not allowed to circumscribe
the rights of the people. But Article 9 renounces war and perhaps prohibits
the existence of the armed forces and the military. Within the scope of the
Constitution, is it permissible to have a military or armed forces?
Some scholars say that we need to amend or abrogate the Constitution so that
we can draft a new constitution, but this may be a revolution. In drafting the
Constitution, did you also debate this? This is my question for Mr. Poole.
May I also ask a question to Mrs. Gordon? At Seinen Gekijo, "The
Pearl Necklace," a theatrical presentation written by James Miki depicting
the fact that the present Constitution was prepared in just one week, presents
the view that you rushed to prepare the Constitution. I would like to hear
your view whether we should really go and see this play. There are many people
here, I am sure, who are very interested. Do you think that the play should be
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Poole, could you please give your answer first?
POOLE: There is no restriction on what amendments can be considered. One
would hope that unwise proposals would not be accepted by the Japanese Diet and
the Japanese people. And I think that is the restriction. But in the initial
draft that was submitted, it was stated that there would be no amendment of the
civil rights provisions, under Chapter 3 of the Constitution, without being
submitted to the people in a plebiscite. But this was actually struck out by
General MacArthur, who felt that there should be no restrictions. Naturally,
one would hope that the Japanese Government would not attempt to alter the
provisions on civil rights. We hope that they would not attempt to alter the
role of the Emperor or to change the whole philosophy of the Constitution.
But technically, you could amend it so you go back to the Meiji
Constitution. I don't think that would be wise, and I don't think the Japanese
people would accept that. But strictly and legally speaking, there is no limit
to what can be considered. I think it would be very unwise, as I have said, to
open up the whole Pandora's box of looking at the whole Constitution. If there
are particular things that need to be discussed, I think they should be
discussed individually and particularly, and not to try to review the entire
Constitution, which invites all kinds of what I've called the "Pandora's
box" of proposals, that might convert the Constitution into something very
distinct from what it is now.
And getting back to the original feeling, I think the question is asked
whether it is really a Japanese constitution. Well, the origins were - were
odd, I will admit, but the Japanese accepted it; the Japanese Cabinet accepted
what was negotiated with them, the Japanese Diet accepted what was presented to
them by the Cabinet through the Emperor, and it became the Japanese Constitution
through this acceptance. And I think this is confirmed by the fact that it has
remained unchanged. It has become a Japanese constitution. And the origins
in the Occupation, I think, while they presented difficulties in accepting it,
are far less important than the text and what the Constitution itself does. Thank
CHAIRMAN: Mrs. Gordon, would you like to respond?
GORDON: I mentioned that I am an amateur, but when it comes to cultural
exchange, I have been involved in cultural exchange for the past forty years. I
am actually an expert on theater, and I would recommend The Pearl Necklace,
which is a superb play. There are actually two actresses playing my role;
one playing the young Beate and the other the older Beate. I would recommend
you to go and see this play.
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Sato, I hope you will go and see The Pearl Necklace.
I believe we have made the round of all the political parties in the House
of Councillors. We still have thirty minutes or so to go, and there have been
submissions of requests to ask questions from Mr. Koyama and Ms. Madoka, who
would like to ask additional questions if the time allows. Since we still have
some more time available, I would like to allow for two more questions from two
people. If you could submit your questions in advance from the Secretariat,
the staff of the Secretariat will go round to take the order. Mr. Koyama,
KOYAMA: I have questions for both of the guest speakers. You talked about
the instructions coming from the SWNCC. After the surrender, you compiled the
instructions for the United States to occupy Japan so that it should not become
a threat to the U.S. and to the rest of the world. I think that was a major
pillar constituting an important part of the Occupation Forces' policy vis-a-vis
Japan. That's what the SWNCC note said at the very outset. So, in drafting
the Constitution, did you know about this SWNCC note, which was in existence at
that time? And was the Constitution drafted along the lines of the
instructions contained in the SWNCC memo that Japan should not become a threat
to the rest of the world?
I am of the view that this Constitution was made by the Occupation Forces,
but some people here are very critical about Japanese Constitution. But did
you know about the existence of the SWNCC's memo? And did you work along the
lines of the instructions of the SWNCC, or were you aware of the existence of
the instructions contained in the SWNCC note? This is a question addressed to
both of the guest speakers.
And as Ms. Gordon had mentioned before, you were called upon by the
Government Section and asked to draft part of the Constitution on February 4th
1945. Mr. Rowell, who was in charge of the judicial work, said that if this
GHQ draft was not accepted by Japan, General MacArthur had said that force could
be used in order to make Japan accept it. Did you know about this?
Did you also know that the mass media had imposed severe censorship on the
draft of the constitution made by the SCAP forces?
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Poole, would you like to respond to the questions?
POOLE: Well, the first part of your question is whether we were aware of the
SWNCC memo. It was right in front of us as we drafted the Constitution. This
was one of the documents that each drafting group had before it. We were very
much aware of it.
Regarding your last remark about, I believe it was General Whitney, who is
reported to have said that if this draft was rejected MacArthur would go to the
people to get acceptance, I frankly don't know whether there was any real
intention to do that. The hope was that the Japanese Government would accept
this as a draft to be discussed if they weren't asked to accept it immediately. There
was some feeling, expressed by Matsumoto, that the Cabinet should reject this
draft outright. There were those who felt it was unwise and the Cabinet was
divided on the subject, but the Emperor intervened in favor of accepting it. This
didn't mean verbatim acceptance, but negotiation based on that document.
I don't know whether that answers your question, but the question of going
to the people if it hadn't been accepted for negotiation may have been just a
talking point. I really don't know. But one important thing from everything
we've got from Washington and from what MacArthur himself had said is that a
constitution forced on the Japanese people against its will would not be an
acceptable constitution over time, and would be counter to what the Occupation
itself wanted to achieve. What was negotiated may look quite like what was
originally presented, but there were a number of changes made, and the fact is
that the Japanese Government finally accepted it as the Japanese draft for
presentation to the Diet.
CHAIRMAN: Ms. Gordon.
GORDON: Sorry, I thought the question was addressed only to Mr. Poole. So,
can you rephrase your question once again?
KOYAMA: When you were involved in the drafting of the Constitution, Mr.
Rowell left it in his document saying that, and I think Ms. Gordon has been also
reported to have said that if the Japanese side rejected the GHQ draft, Japan
might be forced to accept this draft. And General Whitney was reported to say
that that was an instruction which was mentioned by General MacArthur. Was
this the case or not?
And regarding censorship, Allied Forces drafted the Constitution, but the
strict censorship was imposed on the mass media and the press was constrained so
that people did not find out that this draft was made by the Allied Forces.
GORDON: Well, I know nothing about that myself. I have read somewhere that
Mr. Rowell had conveyed the intention of General MacArthur, but I don't know it
myself. I haven't witnessed that myself, so I cannot say anything about it.
KOYAMA: In your testimony you have mentioned that the Japanese people did not
know about the drafting of the Constitution. Your visits to libraries to
collect the necessary information was surely confidential work. So maybe you
were not supposed to let the Japanese people know that this work of drafting the
Constitution was going on.
GORDON: I cannot comment because I don't know anything about that. That is
to say, we were working separately from one another at the time. I was working
on the human rights and civil rights issue solely, exclusively. And Mr. Roest
and Mr. Wildes were also working on the same topic. Three of us were working
on this, but we did not know what the others had been writing in their draft
exactly, because we didn't have time to communicate with one another. All of
us were kept very busy just doing our own work. And the highest degree of
concentration needed to be dedicated to the work assigned to each individual.
So, I do not know what work was done by my fellow colleagues.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Now, let's go on to the next question.
MADOKA: My name is Madoka Yoriko. I am not a regular member of the Research
Commission, but I knew that these two guests were going to be present. I was
dying to listen to their views, so I asked for special permission to take part. I
have also been given this opportunity to speak, so I would like to extend my
special thanks to the Chairman.
My first question is to Ms. Beate Sirota Gordon. The time constraint was
indeed enormous and it must have been very tough for the victorious country to
draft a constitution for the defeated country. Together with other colleagues,
you actually drafted the Constitution. Did you regard that this Constitution
as good enough to establish a democracy? Didn't you think it was
inappropriate? You had great ideals for the future of the mankind and you were
very passionate in bringing about these ideals. I learned about this from
books and other sources. I feel very thankful to you.
Some people say that this Constitution was imposed upon us. But among the
Japanese people, a powerful minority of men drafted the Imperial Constitution,
and under that yoke the Japanese women had a very hard time. Then they came up
with Plan A and Plan B of Matsumoto Draft, but we were very happy that the
Matsumoto Constitution was not imposed upon us. The Matsumoto Draft, was a
scoop story carried by the Mainichi Newspaper Company. Did you read that
newspaper report? If you did, there was no section about civil right or
women's rights. What did you think about that?
GORDON: I was so disappointed and disheartened.
MADOKA: In drafting the civil rights section, "all natural persons"
were the starting words in your original draft of Article 13, I think. What was
the thinking behind this concept? Did you select to words "natural
persons" to avoid limitation to one race or ethnic group?
We have the system of imposing the fingerprint taking on the foreigners
living in Japan. If "all natural persons" was the concept adopted in
the Constitution, then foreigners living in Japan would receive better
treatment. What was the thinking behind this suggestion?
GORDON: I really don't know. That was the section drafted by Dr. Wildes,
who was a very trendy person. He liked esoteric words. Nobody understood
what the meaning of "natural persons" was. Colonel Kades and I
discussed this, and Colonel Kades didn't understand it either. Dr. Wildes has
already passed away, so we couldn't ask him what he meant, so I'm afraid I don't
MADOKA: Dr. Wildes knew the cast system in India before he came to Japan, and
he was adamantly opposed to discrimination between peoples. So he wanted to
eliminate discrimination of all kinds between all peoples or between all
countries. But at that time you did not have any knowledge of this? Okay,
thank you, I understand.
I have another question. Other people have spoken already, for example,
about the right to work, equal pay, and equal work; these are rights
irrespective of whether a person is married or unmarried. That was what you
wrote in the original draft. Such rights should be given to all people, all
women, married or unmarried.
Was the reason for the elimination of that particular section that it was
too detailed and it was not attuned to a document like the Constitution, or do
you think that the dominance of men was too great and that was why it was
GORDON: I for one believe that Colonel Kades, when he looked into my chapters
of social welfare, and so forth, was not really opposed to my idea. Before he
passed away, he told me he was not against the idea, but he opposed the idea of
putting it into the Constitution. He thought that those stipulations would be
more appropriate for the Civil Code. And I agree with that.
MADOKA: But as you said earlier, the Civil Code is drafted by men, and if it
is not incorporated in the Constitution, there was a risk that it would not be
incorporated in the Civil Code.
GORDON: Yes, I said so. But Colonel Kades had no experience with the
Japanese bureaucracy. He was not in Japan before the war. But I had a
plethora of experiences. I was the interpreter for my father and my mother
when they had to go to police or other agencies. I knew there were many
bureaucratic men and that they could be very nasty and tough on people like my
parents. But Colonel Kades had no knowledge of the bureaucracy.
Another thing. Colonel Kades told me four years ago that the view at that
time was that Japan was occupied and a Civil Code would be drafted. That was
what he anticipated. He believed he would be there when the Civil Code was
drafted and he was determined to see to it so that those provisions were
incorporated into the new Civil Code. But it didn't happen. So, in the final
analysis, it happened the way I predicted.
MADOKA: You see, in the field of civil codes, we make certain proposals, but
always the Government says that it runs counter to the traditions of Japanese
Can I ask one more question?
CHAIRMAN: No, I'm sorry, time is up.
MADOKA: Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN: Ms. Ogi.
OGI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the Chairman of the
Research Commission on the Constitution for giving me the opportunity to ask a
question. Ever since the House of Councillors has established this Research
Commission on Constitution, I have been always asking to be given the floor. So
I would like to thank you for this opportunity.
I have listened carefully to the statements made today and I would like to
ask my questions one by one. My first question is to Mrs. Gordon.
I would like to thank you for all your efforts to improve the status of
women in Japan. But when I look at the reality, and when I look at the status
of Japan as it is in the international community, I cannot really see a clear
picture as to the status and value of the women in the Constitution because
traditional values are not being upheld in Japanese society and in the Japanese
Constitution. So I do see some problems with the Constitution, and also in
Japanese society. Although rights were given to women in Japan, as Mrs. Gordon
has mentioned, Japanese women have been subjugated and caused great suffering. What
has become of the good points of the traditional role of women, which has been
quite lost in the past fifty years? We need to reflect upon what has been lost
from Japanese society.
There is one thing I would like to ask Mrs. Gordon. You were one of the
drafters of the Japanese Constitution, but you have kept this confidential and
have kept your silence for very many years. As to the Constitution actually
drafted by you, the New York Times in the United States reported that the new
Constitution abolished the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and that it would
depend upon the Japanese people to be in favor of peace, and that this was so
idealistic that it would lead to the slighting of the Japanese Constitution. This
was the evaluation of the New York Times many decades ago. The Christian
Science Monitor also reported that even though the draft was satisfactory in
many respects, it was not a good Constitution for making Japan a peace-loving
Was the reason you kept your silence for so many years that the Japanese
media was critical of the drafters, that the U.S. media was critical of you, and
that although Japanese women were suffering greatly there were many good points,
many advantages to the traditional role of women? What is your reaction to
GORDON: I never heard of this article or editorial of the New York Times.
Regarding what you said just now, that many of the good points about
Japanese women, some of the traditional roles of Japanese women, have been lost
or denied by the new Constitution, yes, it was quite unfortunate that this
happened. I have great respect for culture, and the good points of culture
need to be preserved. But as to the women's rights, Japanese women were not
given any right at all. So you have to start from scratch. Not only Japanese
women but Japanese men were denied their inherent rights, and that was the thing
I wanted to correct. But, of course, Japanese women were more oppressed, so I
wanted to extend a helping hand to the oppressed women of Japan. That was my
motivation in drafting the Constitution. I had to think of Japanese women more
than Japanese men.
Of course, things may have changed. Of course, men have to be supportive
of women. I would like to ask Japanese women to ask your men to support you. You
must have equal rights for men and women. You shouldn't be partial to either
sex. If not, you will not be able to enjoy your life together with men. If
men and women get married and live together without the development of either,
no good can come of it. So the progress of women and men should go hand in
hand. Even within one family, without equality between men and women, you
cannot have happiness.
Now, when I think of the future, peace is the supreme consideration. Of
course, you need to have some freedom in your family. The family is the
fundamental unit of the society. And it is very good that you are active not
only at home but also in society. Men and women need to go forward hand in
hand, supporting each other.
OGI: No, that was not the point I was trying to make. The drafting of a
peace constitution does not mean that peace will be brought to that country. For
our own country as for other countries, the peace constitution is the ideal, but
it does not mean that the ideal constitution will bring you the peace. You
have to execute certain responsibilities, certain obligations.
When I invited you over to Japan in 1997, I listened to your views and
statements at the Constitutional Hall of Japan. I am indeed very sad that
Professor Esman cannot be here today. I would now like to ask Mr. Poole a
question. In drafting the Constitution, I believe the United States was asking
for just one House of Parliament, a unicameral system. But we have two Houses,
a bicameral system. But I believe the United States was asking for a
unicameral system. And when Professor Esman came here in 1997, he said that he
did not want a bicameral system. But if you remember the debate of more than
fifty years ago as to whether to have a unicameral or bicameral system, could
you explain to us what kind of discussions you had?
POOLE: It was a particular point that General MacArthur himself wanted to
propose a unicameral system. I think his thought process was that the House of
Peers was such an undemocratic institution that it shouldn't be replicated in
some other form; he preferred to propose a unicameral system of government. So,
that's what we all drafted. But I am not sure that all the changes were
incorporated. When we drafted it, when we spoke of the Diet we were speaking
of a unicameral diet. And then this had to be changed. Now, it was
understood that this was a negotiating point. If the Japanese Government
preferred a bicameral system, with an Upper House or - would you like to be
called the Upper House - and with a House of Councillors that was democratically
elected, then this would be conceded as a sort of negotiating point. So,
MacArthur understood that, and that was, of course that was one point for the
Japanese side in the negotiations.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Time is running out and we are fifteen
minutes behind schedule. But since this is a very good opportunity, I wanted
as many persons as possible to be able to utilize the time given to us. We
have had requests from the floor for additional questions, but let me exercise
the Chairman's prerogative and ask three more people to ask questions. In
particular, there are many women who would like to ask questions to Mrs. Gordon. So
I would like to call upon Ms. Fukushima, Mr. Uozumi, and the Acting Chairman of
the Commission to ask the last questions. The Communist Party may ask to be
given the right to ask a question, but if you could, please give us your kind
support and understanding.
Ms. Fukushima, would you like to ask your question? Just one question,
FUKUSHIMA: Thank you very much for giving us a constitution which is a weapon
and ammunition for us Japanese women. My question to Mrs. Gordon is this. If
the Constitution is revised, and Article 9 is revised and if we have military
forces, what would it mean to other Asian countries? What is the significance
of Article 9? What do you see as the meaning of Article 9?
GORDON: Regarding Article 9, what you are asking is the possible reaction to
other Asian countries. Other Asian countries, still remember the militaristic
Japan. Because of the Peace Constitution they feel rest assured. But if the
Constitution is revised, they will become suspicious of what will come out of
the revision of the Constitution.
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Uozumi?
UOZUMI: I am from the Komei Party Reformers Club. I have a question for Mr.
Poole. You have mentioned that, of course, the Japanese people were not
permitted to go back to the Meiji Constitution and revise that, but the Japanese
Constitution is regarded as a constitution which is rather difficult to be
revised. The preamble of the Constitution talks about the people's sovereignty
and it says that it is based on universal principles and implies that the
constitution is rather difficult to revise.
But you have talked about the internal debate within the Allied Forces SCAP. Did
you also discuss the limits of revising the Constitution? Was there any
internal discussion as to the limit that might be conceivable for the revision
of the Constitution?
POOLE: Well, in the Constitution there is no limit on what can be revised. You
have to rely on the wisdom of the Japanese people and their elected government. And
that is true of almost any constitution anywhere, that it survives as long as it
serves the interests of the people.
Now, the preamble sets the tone of the Constitution, and that it should be a
constitution, as we like to put it, of the people, for the people and by the
people, quoting Lincoln. And that in itself, I think, is the guarantee that a
democratic constitution will continue. Now you can change it; there is nothing
to prevent you from changing the totality of it. But I think you would be
unwise to open it up for total review and possible multiple changes. I don't
think it would be easy to do that. But theoretically, that is possible. Our
own Constitution could be amended so that it disappears. But we wouldn't do
So I think that is the best guarantee for the survival of a democratic
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. That was a very logical question. There
will be one more question. Mr. Yoshioka, please limit your question to just
YOSHIOKA: Yes, my question is addressed to Mrs. Gordon. In the debate we
have on the Constitution, it is frequently mentioned that the Constitution was
drafted by just one week, too short a time. Because it was drafted in just one
week, the implication is that it was made in haste; it was rushed and maybe a
rather irresponsible constitution draft was forced onto Japan. That may be the
insinuation or implication of this point.
But as I listened to the statements made by the two guest speakers, although
it was prepared in just one week, they put tremendous efforts into this one
week, and it was based upon the many long years of study made by the U.S.
Government in the past. Also, reference was made to knowledge and expertise on
constitutional studies in Japan. So although the actual work or preparation
was done in just one week, it was based on tremendous effort as well as
tremendous knowledge of the background. Is my understanding correct? Or
would you say that because of the shortness of the time, the work was
GORDON: We made reference to the constitutions of other countries as well,
and the drafters of such constitutions would have put much thought into their
preparation. So I think we were able to pick the best from all the other
different constitutions. We were therefore able to collect and gather the best
of the thinking and philosophy of the different drafters of different
constitutions all over the world. So I think the draft we were able to prepare
and submit to Colonel Kades was the best.
The Socialist Party was also able to come up with their views, and the
Steering Committee was able to give us this information. So it is not that
nothing originating from the Japanese was included. That is not true. We did
include some elements which originated from the Japanese people.
We debated thoroughly what we thought should be included in the constitution
from early in the morning till late in the night, and I think the draft we
prepared was indeed adequate enough. And since the Japanese Constitution has
never been amended to this date, and I think it is well suited to this country. So
even though it may have been prepared in just one week, it was indeed an
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Acting Chairman, Mr. Yoshida, will make the
closing remarks on this memorable, historic occasion. Mr. Yoshida, please.
YOSHIDA: Thank you very much for giving me such an important task. I don't
know whether I can live up to the task given me.
Mr. Poole, Ms. Gordon, thank you very much for traveling such a long
distance despite your very busy schedule to come to Japan. You have discussed
with us various matters pertaining to the process of drafting a constitution. I
was indeed very much impressed and moved by what you said. Especially, the two
of you have a profound understanding of Japan. You love Japan, and for the
cause of the world you worked very hard to produce a good draft of the
Constitution. This is deeply significant. Having listened to your
presentations, the Constitution has come closer to our hearts.
The most vexing question for us now is the issue of world peace. In the
past, we have experienced various wars, including wars in which we took part. People
always engage in wars in the name of peace, and there are apparent wars of
aggression conducted in the name of peace. In the face of this historic fact,
we must remind ourselves that we should never cause another war.
We have therefore come up with a Constitution which renounces war, which
renounces use of the armed forces altogether. In the name of peace, sometimes
people enter wars of aggression. We know that it happened in the past. So we
should renounce all belligerent forces, and this is the first constitution of
its kind in the world, and has the highest value in the world. However, the
world situation is not exactly as we anticipated, and there are various places
in the world where Japanese participation in PKO is required. Japan has also
attained the global status as one of the great powers, and a contribution
commensurate with this status is required of us.
So is the Japanese Self-Defense Force a military force or not? We need to
have consistency between reality and constitution, but there seems to be some
mismatch between them. That is the difficulty that we face.
Mr. Poole mentioned that if we revise our Constitution, we have to gain the
understanding of the Asian people to whom we have caused so much trouble, and we
have to offer our detailed, elaborate explanation to the Asian people that our
revision of the Constitution will not pose as a danger regarding the use of
militaristic power. No matter how much rhetoric you use, the world will not
trust you, so we must not be careless about revising the Constitution. Before
going into the process of revising the Constitution, we have to make thorough
approaches to other countries to explain our position. Not only regarding the
Constitution but also concerning economic cooperation and cultural exchanges, or
relations between the United States and Japan, we can have security treaties and
networks of security treaties where people can rest assured about Japan's
intentions, and Japan can contribute accordingly to the settlement of conflicts
in various places.
These are the questions which are on our minds. In terms of foreign
relations we would like to continue our efforts, and if you have other views we
would like to learn from you again.
Another point: We have been discussing the Constitution. Of course, the
Constitution has universal philosophical value. It is the fourth oldest
constitution in the world, I hear. The principles of the Constitution, of
course, must be adhered to and the ideal state has to continue, and the rest can
be dealt through interpretation. That's one way of thinking. Another way of
thinking is that things are changing, so as times goes by, as the necessity
arises, we should revise particular provisions, and probably that would result
in a better constitution for the world of the future.
CHAIRMAN: Are you posing a question to Mr. Poole? Mr. Poole, having heard
the Acting Chairman's comments, this is the last question. Do you have any
concluding remarks, or you have some urgent message that you wish to impart to
the audience? I would like to ask the audience to be quiet for a moment. Mr.
Poole, please deliver your concluding remarks, or any responses to the remarks
you've just heard.
POOLE: Thank you, Mr. Yoshida, for your remarks. To my way of thinking, you
are both realistic and idealistic. There is no conflict between the two, and
your suggestions, I think, very much correspond to what I believe. I do think
that the Constitution can be adapted to reality in a way that reassures
neighboring countries that Japan's role is a very different one now from what it
was before, and that there is absolutely no intention whatsoever to revert to
past militarism. There are different ways this can be handled, through public
relations or diplomatic relations, so that your neighboring countries feel
assured. I think also, on the other hand, that you need to make sure that this
is what the people want.
I think these two conditions for revising Article 9 are essential. The
question is whether it can be accomplished under the amendment procedures.
Now, I believe your deliberations will continue for five years. Since I
plan to live to be a hundred, I am available to participate in your fifth
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Poole. I hereby close the Research
Commission's deliberations. As you mentioned, in five years time I hope that
you will all come again, and you will take part in the Research Commission's
deliberations. Thank you very much.
Now, with the Board of Directors' agreement, we will attach an English
version of the minutes attached to our official minutes.
I would like to thank our guest speakers, Mrs. Gordon and Mr. Poole. Thank
you very much for providing us with your very frank and reserved opinions. On
behalf of the Research Commission, I would like to thank these two guest
speakers for their participation and contribution.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. The meeting is adjourned.