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Series Two: British Foreign Office Files for Post-War Japan, 1952-1980
(Public Record Office Class FO 371)

Part 3: Complete files for 1957-1959
(PRO Class FO 371/127521-127598, 133577-133659 & 141415-141530)

Part 3 brings together the complete files for 1957-1959 looking at such issues and events as:

Kishi and the Liberal Democrats
In January 1957, Kishi was appointed acting Prime Minister as a consequence of Ishibashi’s illness. The following month Ishibashi resigned as Prime Minister, and was succeeded two days later by Kishi. In March 1957 Kishi was elected President of the Liberal-Democratic Party. At the General Election in June 1958, the Liberal Democrats won 287 seats, the Socialists 166, the Communists 1. Kishi and his Caretaker Cabinet resigned, but Kishi was re-elected as Prime Minister. In the New Cabinet announced only Fujiyama retained his previous office. The following year vigorous Socialist opposition continued in the Diet culminating in a Socialist motion of non-confidence in the Kishi Cabinet. The motion was defeated by 253 votes to 142.

Relations with the Soviet Union
During this period Tevosyan, the first post-war Soviet ambassador to Japan took up his post. Tensions continued throughout the period over numerous outstanding issues.

Friction in relations with the United States
In 1957 an agreement was announced on the voluntary restriction of Japanese textile exports to the United States and disputes began over the shooting of a Japanese woman by an American soldier, William Girard. After protracted debate, the United States authorities decided to permit Girard to be tried in Japan. There were large demonstrations at Sunakawa against the extension of the American air-base at Tachikawa. In August 1957 Japan’s first experimental atomic reactor "went critical". The following year the British files document US reaction to the election of a Communist mayor in Okinawa. Then in 1959 the Tokyo District Court declaration on the Sunekawa case stated that the stationing of American troops in Japan was a violation of the Constitution. In July 1959, the Japanese authorities took over from the US Air Force full control of all air traffic in and around Japan. Finally, in December 1959, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the Sunekawa Case. However, trade and commercial relations between Japan and US were held to be of the highest importance and the various flashpoints and tensions did little to harm the economic relationship.

Opposition to Nuclear Tests
The British Government rejected numerous Japanese requests for cancellation of the Christmas Island nuclear tests and the Soviet Union also continued to refuse Japanese requests to suspend their nuclear tests. Dr Matsushita was sent to the UK as Kishi’s special representative to protest about nuclear tests. In May 1957 the first Christmas Island explosion was announced and was followed by two days of mass demonstrations in front of the British Embassy in Tokyo. The diplomatic exchanges on this subject are covered in depth in the files on this subject. The Liberal-Democrats rejected Socialist proposals for a joint resolution banning the introduction of nuclear weapons. Against this background the Fourth World Conference against Nuclear Weapons was held in Tokyo. Kishi welcomed United States proposals for a temporary suspension of nuclear tests and Oerlikon missiles were unloaded by Self Defence Forces at Yokosuka naval base. The following month saw the start of investigations into charges of political interference in the selection of Japan’s future fighter aircraft. Back in 1958 atomic energy agreements had been signed between Japan and United Kingdom and Japan and United States. The contract between GEC and the Japan Atomic Power Company was finally signed in December 1959 for the purchase of a Calder-Hall type reactor.

Long term defence plans, choice of fighter aircraft and tests of guided missiles in Japan
In June 1957 the Japanese Cabinet approved the Defence Council’s proposed three-year defence plan to produce 180,000 ground troops, a 124,000 ton Navy and an Air Force of 1,300 planes by 1961. In August, the first meeting was held of the Joint Japan-United States Committee on Security Forces Matters. The files on these subjects underline the importance of the United States and their role in Japan. British observations on some of the significant flashpoints and tensions are quite revealing. The Japanese population certainly did not welcome the continued presence of American ground troops on Japanese soil and in August 1957 a big ceremony was held to mark the withdrawal from Japan of the last US ground combat forces. However, the Japanese Government, as a further sign of close links and co-operation with the US, decided to purchase supplies of air-to-air guided missiles ("Sidewinders"). At the start of 1959, members of the Draper Committee visited Japan to study the United States Military Aid programme. In August 1959 General Genda, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force, led a mission to the US to examine possible new jet fighters for Japan. Then, in November, Japanese Self-Defence Forces received their first consignment of Sidewinder missiles and the Lockheed F.104 C was chosen as Japan’s new fighter aircraft.

Industrial Relations in Japan
The files for 1957 contain significant detail on the industrial unrest in Japan. In May 1957 the Government took disciplinary action against more than 800 leaders of National Railway Workers Union who had earlier organised illegal strikes and walk-outs. A Socialist non-confidence motion was defeated by 249 votes to 151 in the House of Representatives. Strikes by half a million workers in the steel, shipbuilding and transport industries followed in October. At the end of the year, a bitter struggle by members of the Japan Teachers’ Union in Ehime Prefecture against the efficiency rating scheme, ended with their submission. Some industrial relations troubles spilled over into 1958. Sixty-nine people were injured in clashes between police and members of the Japan Postal Workers Union. Disciplinary action was taken against 22,476 members of the Japan Postal Workers’ Union. Over 100 protesters were injured in clashes in Wakayama Prefecture between police and persons demonstrating against teachers’ efficiency rating system. In 1959 a Minimum Wage Bill was passed by the Diet. June 1959 saw rioting at the Shime coal mine in Kyushu because of the National Railways plans to sell to private industry. In the same month the Japan Teachers’ Union agreed (for the first time since 1949) neither to support, nor to receive the support of the Japanese Communist Party. Zenro (Japan Trade Union Congress) announced the suspension of talks for closer affiliation with Sohyo and Shinsanbetsu (Federation of Industrial Organisations) in August. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry announced a relaxation of Japan’s import restrictions on about 180 commodities three months later. The end of the year was marked by further industrial unrest including the Coalmine Workers’s Union 24 hour strike against dismissal plans.

Retirement of Sir Esler Dening
The first post-war British Ambassador to Japan, Sir Esler Dening, left Japan on retirement in 1957 to be replaced by Sir William Lascelles. In handing over the reins to his successor, Dening left the historian a rich array of summaries and evaluations on all aspects of Japanese society, politics and culture.

The United Nations
Fujiyama, the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited London in September 1957 and went on to visit the United Nations the following month. Shortly afterwards Japan was elected to a non-permanent seat on UN Security Council. This was seen as a major step forward in Japan, achieved with American and British backing.

Korea and the release and repatriation of detainees
Tensions with Korea, especially over the release and repatriation of detainees, and with the Soviet Union, over the possible siting of American nuclear and missile bases, continued. Kishi stated in the Diet that Japan could not prevent flights over Japan by American aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Early in 1959 Foreign Minister Aiichiro Fujiyama announced that Koreans in Japan wishing to be repatriated to North Korea would shortly be allowed to go home. In July 1959 Japan accepted South Korean proposals for the unconditional resumption of talks with Japan and for the release of Japanese fishermen and Korean detainees. At the end of 1959, three large groups of repatriates left Japan for North Korea.

Anglo-Japanese Trade and Commerce
The 1958 visit to Europe by President Sumitomo of the Bank of Japan is discussed along with ongoing trade negotiations between London and Tokyo. The Double taxation agreement between Japan and the UK was signed in 1957. Also, the Anglo-Japanese Trade Agreement was extended until 1 March 1958. Then, in March 1958, Katsumi Ono was appointed Japanese Ambassador to the United Kingdom in succession to Nishi. The 1959 files include documents on the Dunlop Company plans for further investment in Japan and papers on the Oil and Coal industry of Japan. Kishi's visit to the United Kingdom (12-16 July) was followed by visits to various countries in Europe and South America, returning to Japan on 11 August.

Japan and Formosa
Following assurances that Japan would not allow a Chinese mission in Tokyo to fly its national flag, nationalist authorities in Formosa (Taiwan) removed restrictions which had been imposed on trade with Japan. In May 1958 a Trade Agreement between Japan and Formosa was signed at Taipei.

Japan and China
There are many papers on the arrest of Japanese fishing vessels by China as well as numerous files on Relations between Japan and China - including the breakdown of negotiations on a fourth trade agreement. The British perspective on China is interesting because of the differences in British and American policies with regard to China during this period.

Socialist boycotts of the Japanese Diet
In October 1958 the Socialists boycotted the Diet after the Liberal Democrats had rejected their demands to postpone the introduction of the bill revising Police Duties Law. In November about 1 million people took part in protest movements against the Police Duties Bill. The Socialists boycotted the Diet in protest against the extension of the Session; finally the Police Duties Bill was shelved. Then, in November 1959, there were further troubles over the Security Treaty. Mr Fujiyama announced that the revised Security Treaty with the US would be signed in January 1960. A further 10 right-wing Socialist Diet members left the Socialist Party and formed the Democratic Socialist group. About 12,000 trade unionists and left-wing students broke into the Diet grounds in the course of nationwide demonstrations against the revision of the Security Treaty.

Digital Guide
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