U.S. admits CIA gave LDP money in 1950s, 1960s

Kyodo

The CIA secretly sent money to the Liberal Democratic Party in the 1950s and 1960s to help stabilize the LDP-led government and prevent a leftist administration from emerging, according to a U.S. document released Tuesday.

The document, titled “Foreign Relations of the United States, Vol. XXIX, Part 2,” also suggests that some of the CIA money went to moderate members of the now-defunct Japan Socialist Party, the LDP’s rival at the time, apparently to help them form a moderate breakaway.

It is the first time the U.S. government has formally admitted having a covert financial program for Japanese politicians, a State Department official involved in compiling the document said.

The LDP has denied the CIA give the party financial support.

The document says the U.S. government approved “four covert programs to try to influence the direction of Japanese political life” from 1958 to 1968.

The government under President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the CIA authorization before the Lower House election in 1958 “to provide a few key pro-American and conservative politicians with covert limited financial support and electoral advice,” it said.

The document did not go into details about the recipients but apparently referred to LDP bigwigs who had gained a grip on power under Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, who took office in 1957, and Hayato Ikeda, who succeeded Kishi in 1960.

“The recipient Japanese candidates were told only that they were getting support from American businessmen,” the document said.

Washington was then “concerned that potential electoral success by leftist political forces would strengthen Japanese neutralism and eventually pave the way to a leftist government in Japan,” it said.

“Another U.S. covert action in Japan sought to reduce the chances that extreme leftwing politicians would be elected,” it said.

Eisenhower’s administration authorized a similar financial program during 1959 “to try to split off the moderate wing of the leftist opposition in the hope that a more pro-American and ‘responsible’ opposition party would emerge.”

The document suggested the amount of secret money for the moderate group in the JSP came to $75,000 in 1960, when a predecessor of the Democratic Socialist Party was formed as a moderate JSP breakaway. “It (the aid) continued basically at that level through the early 1960s,” the document said.

“The subsidy program for Japanese political parties was phased out in early 1964,” it said.