The opening addresses of Koiso and his principal ministers at the 86th session of the diet yesterday “betrayed our expectations”, the Asahi states bluntly. And it adds: “A general survey of the discussions gives us the undeniable impression… that they are low-toned.” Indeed from the translations that have been published, Koiso “did not go beyond what has already been said” while the interpellations from the floor have fallen far short of what the press calls “patriotic relentless interpellations to be levelled against the government”.
There were three of these interpellations yesterday. First to take the floor was Dr.Tsuneo Kanemitsu who asked whether or not the government had a war policy at all and whether or not it had the courage to carry it out. He also called for closer touch with the people and the reformation of the present complicated political structure which was entirely dominated by the government. Finally he attacked internal jealousies and excessive formalism in the bureaucracy.
He was followed by Mr. Yadanji Nakajima who blamed the war situation on “low-toned munitions production” and this in turn on “too many orders”. Going into details, he asked a question that might well puzzle the most acute grammarian; “What,” he wanted to know, “is the so-called provincially classified composite self-standing structure?” If it meant regional self-sufficiency for defense and production, he pointed out that “the natural resources for our country are not to be found everywhere but are rather limited to certain regions while not all regions have adequate labor, sources of power and transportation facilities.” Would not such a policy, he asked, lead to a lowering of production power?
He also took up the operation of the munitions company law. On this subject however the comments of the Tokyo Shimbun were sharper; nothing, the paper said, had been done to remedy the “discrepancy” between labor’s sacrifices and capital’s profits. “No ‘putting-the-whole-nation-to-work’ is truly possible unless, through a thorough-going enforcement of an ‘every-body-a-soldier’ system, the entire nation is truly militarized and turned into a military life end all private rights are returned to the throne for the duration of the war.”
No translation was made available of the third interpellation by Mr. Masayoshi Kimura on foodstuff distribution,
Yet even these scattered diffident voices, overheard from behind the closed doors of Japanese government, are enough to trouble our deepest prejudices. Interpellations in the diet are put by men carefully chosen from a national party imposed and maintained by the government. Comments in the press must survive the official censorship of the brush as well as the unofficial censorship of the sword. But somehow the secret thoughts of the people leap over all these barriers, seep through the complicated and cunning sieves, and break out into the open light of day.
It makes one doubt whether an old-fashioned tyranny is now possible at all. The most modern dictatorships must pay more than lip-service to the people; by guile, deceit, the bribe of security, the bait of glory, the cry of “Wolf, wolf!”, they must rally their willing allegiance. So also Japan’s medieval despots can no longer tame or chain the tiger; they can only ride it. Looked at in this fashion, any modern government is popular in the sense of being maintained by the people; not all the “younger officers” could keep Tozyo in power once the slow irresistible heave and surge of popular discontent got started; at this rate Koiso will not last much longer; it is a clumsy ponderous process, too often blind, belated, instinctive, bewildered, but something that all tyrants must fear and take into account. The advantage of democracy is that it provides a more advanced and scientific technique, a cleanly defined channel for the tide of power, but the power itself, the power of the people, is ubiquitous.