Secrecy News

U.S. Covert Action in Japan in the 1960s Disclosed

“In the 1958-1968 decade, the U.S. Government approved four covert programs to try to influence the direction of Japanese political life,” the State Department revealed this week in the latest volume of Foreign Relations of the United States, the official history of U.S. foreign policy.

“Concerned that potential electoral success by leftist political forces would strengthen Japanese neutralism and eventually pave the way for a leftist government in Japan, the Eisenhower administration authorized the Central Intelligence Agency before the May 1958 elections for the Japanese House of Representatives to provide a few
key pro-American and conservative politicians with covert limited financial support and electoral advice,” according to an Editorial Note in the new volume (document 1).

“By 1964, key officials in the Lyndon Johnson administration were becoming convinced that because of the increased stability in Japanese politics, covert subsidies to Japanese politicians were no longer necessary.”

“Furthermore, there was a consensus that the program of subsidies was not worth the risk of exposure. The subsidy program for Japanese political parties was phased out in early 1964.”

“Meanwhile, a broader covert program, divided almost equally between propaganda and social action and designed to encourage key elements in Japanese society to reject the influence of the extreme left, continued to be funded at moderate levels — $450,000 for 1964, for example — throughout the Johnson administration.”

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XXIX, Part 2, Japan, published July 18.