Spreading Democracy

Western Values in Japan

"... Japan did not wish to rearm..."

"On Monday morning I was invited to meet with a group of about 20 members of the political leaders of the Diet. The Committee seemed rather pleased by this and said it was an unusual thing for them to do. I was not asked to make a speech but I was asked to answer some of their questions and listen to some of their statements, and I did. I was told again why Japan did not wish to rearm and why she did wish to rearm. The economic difficulties, over population, not being able to grow enough food, the bases and many other subjects were presented and discussed. Then I was taken on a tour to see the Emperor’s room and Imperial family’s room and the chamber. After this fourteen of the ladies of the Diet gave us luncheon in a Japanese restaurant nearby and they took the opportunity to express their desire for peace, their disturbance over the situation at the bases, their feeling about political prisoners still in prison, many under life sentences, etc."

Editor's Note: Eleanor Roosevelt visited Japan in 1953 as part of a cultural exchange program. The exchange of western culture was meant to promote democracy in the recovering Japan. This excerpt is from a letter written to Harry Carman, an advocate and director for intellectual exchange with Japan.