Documents with Commentaries

5-13 Eliminating the Crimes of High Treason and Lese Majesty from Criminal Code

 The materials presented here show us a series of exchanges between the Japanese government and GHQ on removing lese majesty and high treason in revising the Criminal Code to bring it in line with the new Constitution. On December 20, 1946, General Whitney, Chief of Government Section, ordered Justice Minister Tokutaro Kimura to delete articles 73 to 76 which concerned lese majesty and high treason. In response to this on December 27, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida sent a letter to MacArthur asking that provisions relating to high treason be retained based on the following three reasons: 1) An act of violence against the person of the Emperor…should be considered as being of a character subversive of the state. 2) The same is true of the members of the Imperial Family. 3) All the countries under monarchical systems such as England have similar provisions. However, Alfred C. Oppler, Chief of the Courts and Legal Division in Government Section researched the claims of lese majesty and high treason in Yoshida's letter, and concluded that there was no statutory provision in the U.S. or in England comparable to the Japanese provision against high treason.

 Based on the results of this research, MacArthur sent a letter, dated February 25, 1947, to Prime Minister Yoshida refuting his arguments one by one. He rejected Yoshida's appeal stating that the Emperor and his family were entitled to no more and no less legal protection than that accorded to all other citizens, and to give them any greater protection would violate the principles of the new Constitution.

Actual Title of Source Fukeizai ni Kansuru Ken
Document Number Haga Shiro Papers: 291
Repository (reproduction)  
Repository National Diet Library
Actual Title of Source Letter from Shigeru Yoshida to General MacArthur dated December 27, 1946
Date December 27, 1946
Document Number Nishizawa Tetsushiro Papers: 328
Repository (reproduction)  
Repository National Diet Library
Actual Title of Source Memorandum for the Deputy Chief, Government Section. Subject: Legal Protection of the President of the United States and of the King of England against Bodily Harm
Date 31 December 1946
Document Number GHQ/SCAP Records, Legal Section Box No. 1497 "Lese Majesty"<Sheet No. LS11751>
Repository (reproduction) National Diet Library
Repository U.S. National Archives & Records Administration (RG331)
Note Microfiche
Actual Title of Source Letter from Douglas MacArthur to Prime Minister dated 25 February 1947
Date February 25, 1947
Document Number MacArthur Memorial Archives, RG 10:Private Correspondence (VIP Files) Box No. 13 "Ashida, Katayama, Yoshida" <MMA-14, Roll No. 6>
Repository (reproduction) National Diet Library
Repository MacArthur Memorial
Note Microfilm
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