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Justin Williams papers

 Collection 0016-GWP

Justin Williams, a former professor of history and chairman of the Social Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin in River Falls, joined the Army Air Corps in July 1942 as a first lieutenant. After attending the School of Military Government (SMG) at the University of Virginia in 1944, and the Civil Affairs Training School (CATS) at Yale University during 1944-1945, he arrived in Tokyo in September 1945 as a staff member of General Headquarters' Military Government Section, soon to be abolished. From December 1945 until July 1946, he served as a legislative analyst in the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers' Government Section (GS). In July 1946, he became chief of GS's Legislative Division, a position he held until April 1952.


  • 1945-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1946-1953

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is partially microfilmed. Researchers will consult the microfilm in McKeldin Library, unless permission is granted for access to the actual papers prior to a research visit. For information and to secure permission, email

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder. Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a research find sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


21 Linear Feet (54 letter-sized boxes)

8 Items : Three books, one newsletter, two albums, two booklets

Biographical / Historical

The papers of Justin Williams, Sr., provide an unequalled view of parliamentary, political, and constitutional change in Japan after World War II. As chief of the Legislative Division, he interacted with key Japanese politicians and Government Section (GS) officials who were intimately involved in making crucial decisions for Japan between 1945 and 1952. The Legislative Division maintained liaison with the Cabinet, the Diet, and the political parties, kept Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) sections informed of pending legislation in the Diet, oversaw election campaigns and practices, and played a major role in effecting parliamentary change in the new National Diet. Williams reported directly to Major General Courtney Whitney and Colonel Charles L. Kades, the two most important GS officials. Williams' memos are replete with notable "inside" information. They throw light on the several Japanese political parties, both left and right; on such Japanese politicians as Asanuma Inejiro, Nishio Suehiro, Suzuki Toshio, Miki Takeo, Sato Naotake, Matsumoto Takizo, Tokuda Kyuichi, Nosaka Sanzo, and Ozaki Yukio; on the 1950 Diet Delegation visit to the United States; on the growth of Diet power; on the Purge; on Japanese figures like Ashida Hitoshi, Yoshida Shigeru, Matsudaira Tauneo, Kanamori Tokujiro, Shidehara Rijuro, Tanaka Kotaro, Nambara Shigeru, and Takayanagi Kenzo; and countless other topics.

In addition, Williams wrote numerous memoranda for the record on a wide range of subjects. Memoranda in the collection cover such topics as the 1951 Peace and Security Treaties, the 1947 Constitution, election laws and election field visits, the establishment of the National Diet Library, police reorganization, and political bills In the Diet such as the Local Tax Bill, the Diet Law Bill, and the National Public Service Law. The uncensored Justin Williams-Helen Loeb "Diet Reports," covering every Diet session beginning with the 90th in 1946, are valuable because of General MacArthur's personal interest in them. Each report went directly to him and constituted his main source of information on Diet activities during his entire tenure.

Researchers concerned with different shades of official Japanese opinion on the SCAP-proposed constitution will find of value the carbons of the Hearings of the Privy Council and the House of Representatives-House of Peers, in English, on that subject. Only six of these typed records were given to General Headquarters (GHQ). Indispensable to students of the neglected latter half of the Occupation are Marcel Grilli's unpublished "Political Reorientation of Japan, 1949-1952" (9 chapters), and Frank Rizzo's monthly reports and weekly briefings for SCAP, April 1951-April 1952.

Williams' collection contains his correspondence with leading GS officials. He wrote to and received letters from Courtney Whitney, chief of GS from December 1945 until April 1951; Charles L. Kades, deputy chief of GS from January 1946 until December 1947; Frank Rizzo, deputy chief of GS from July 1951 until April 1952; Guy J. Swope; Milo E. Rowell; Cecil G. Tilton; and Alfred C. Oppler and others. The Williams-Kades letters, dating from the early Occupation years well into the 1970's, constitute a useful historical source. These detailed letters discuss a State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee (SWNCC)-228 and the nature of American postsurrender planning for Japan, how Occupation planning was actuallyput into effect, the drafting of the 1947 Constitution, the MacArthur-Whitney relationship, the Far Eastern Commission versus SCAP over constitutional revision, the role of Baron Shidebara in the discussions over the 1947 Constitution, and the intra-divisional rivalries during the Occupation. Williams also wrote to and received letters from leading Japanese such as Kanamori Tokujiro, Irie Toshio, Nakai Shoichi, Sato Naotake, and Takayanagi Kenzo. Williams' letters, in addition to providing historical data, supply the reader with a wealth of biographical information on Japanese and American dignitaries.

One of the more significant items in the Williams Collection is folder 128 containing the correspondence between SCAP and three Prime Ministers. In several cases, these 120 letters may be the only copies presently in existence. They cover such subjects as the Purge and appeals for depurging, economic measures such as the Coal Mining Bill, the 1947 Constitution, the food situation in Japan during 1945-1947, the annual budgets, police reform, the National Public Service Law, the Imperial Institution, Japanese labor, political corruption, elections, and lese majesty and the Penal Code.

Readers of the letters between MacArthur and Yoshida should come away with a feeling for the direct relationship between these men. Folder 128 also includes the letters exchanged between Whitney and Prime Ministers Ashida Hitoshi, Katayama Tetsu, and Yoshida Shigeru.

Historians on the Occupation of Japan will find additional items of interest in the Williams Collection. One of these is the MacArthur correspondence bearing on the 1950 Margaret Sanger birth control controversy in Japan. Other items include Courtney Whitney's 1967 chapter-length account of President Truman's dismissal of MacArthur, an August 1945 U. S. War Department list of Japanese who were considered friendly and trustworthy, copies of the Diet deliberations on the 1946-1947 draft Constitution, copies of the proposed amendments to the new Constitution recommended by the various political parties, copies of the 1944-1945 U.S. Army Civil Affairs training handbooks for Japan, and the 16 December 1947 GS memo for the record regarding the preparation of the draft Constitution. Williams' handwritten notes provide the researcher with a special insight into Courtney Whitney, the 1947 Constitution, E. Herbert Norman, SWNCC 228, and military government in Japan. The collection also contains the exchange of messages between SCAP and the Pentagon on NSC 13/2 and the National Public Service Law which show how MacArthur prevented the reversal of U. S. Occupation policy.

Custodial History

The Justin Williams papers have been donated to the University of Maryland Libraries in several segements. The first and largest part of the collection was donated by Justin Williams in 1979. Additional materials have been donated by Justin Williams, Jr. in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2015, and 2016.

Related Materials

Justin Williams, Jr., son of Justin Williams, was interviewed by Marlene Mayo, professor emerita of the University of Maryland, for her oral history with Americans who served in Allied occupied Japan. A transcript and audio of the interview can be accessed from the Prange Collection through the Maryland Room.

Two published books will aid the researcher. In 1979, Justin Williams published Japan's Political Revolution under MacArthur: A Participant's Account (Athens: University of Georgia Press, and Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1979) which uses the material now available in the Gordon W. Prange Collection. Robert E. Ward and Frank Joseph Shulman's The Allied Occupation of Japan (1945-1952): An Annotated Bibliography of Western Language Materials (Chicago: American Library Association, 1974) is a helpful supplementary work.

Guide to the Justin Williams papers
In Progress
Processed by George William Ware, Jr.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742