A ROMANTIC REVERSE COURSE IN OCCUPATION JAPAN
Dangerous liaison? Viscountess Torio ca.1947
by ROBERT WHITING
Afew months back in Number 1 Shimbun this author described how the G-2 Intelligence wing of the GHQ and the Canon Agency spied on communists during the Occupation. However, they also spied on fellow Americans. One of their targets was Charles Louis Kades (1906-1996), who was having an affair with the wife of a Japanese aristocrat.
Kades, a Harvard graduate, Roosevelt New Dealer and Wall Street lawyer, was deputy chief of the Government Section of General Headquarters (GHQ). Working under MacArthur, Kades was the moving force behind many of the Occupation’s postwar reforms designed to endow Japan with modern democratic institutions and do away with the feudal system that had put Japan on a path to war. Kades had arrived in Tokyo in late August 1945. He had overseen the purging and imprisonment of the Japanese military officers, politicians, government officials and businessmen who had led Japan in to the war and he had encouraged the formation of labor unions. Kades was charged with creating the GHQ draft of a new Constitution, a remarkable document that renounced war, stripped the Emperor of authority while leaving him as head of state, established an elected government and guaranteed a range of civil rights, including, or the first time, full equality for women (who had previously been subservient under the law to the male head of the household). The new Constitution took effect on May 3, 1947.
Colonel Charles Louis Kades
Willoughby sees red
The head of G-2 Intelligence, General Charles Willoughby, thought Kades was going too far to the left. The Cold War with the Russians had begun and Willoughby was concerned about the rising tide of communism in mainland China and in North Korea and feared its impact on Japan, where leftist demonstrations were getting larger and noisier. The leader of the Japan Communist Party had called or a general nationwide strike or economic and political concessions involving six million railway, school, factory and government and other workers on February 1, 1947. The strike was averted only after a sharp public rebuke by MacArthur and the implied threat of retaliation from American soldiers. Willoughby thought the Occupation could use the services of Japan’s top military officers in combating the rising Red threat, as well as the help of Japan’s top industrialists in running the postwar economy, which was caught in an inflationary spiral. There were many New Dealers in the GS and Economic and Science Division (ESS). Willoughby suspected there were communists or people with communist leanings in the Government Section and the Economic and Science Division (ESS), operating under the guise of democratization.
The leftist direction of the Occupation had also attracted the attention of a group of influential Wall Street executives affiliated with the Morgans, the Rockefellers and other large multinationals with substantial pre-war business interests in in Japan who feared the new policies would harm their investments. This group began lobbying for a change in Occupation policy, using their contacts in the US media and direct contacts to encourage Willoughby to conduct intense investigations into those suspected of leftist leanings in Tokyo, checking into their histories, family structure and friends, in coordination with the FBI and the Intelligence wing of the US Defense Department. Willoughby paid special attention to Kades, his staff, their families and the circles they moved in.
Viscount and Viscountess Torio and family
Setting a Viscountess to catch a Colonel
Willoughby was particularly intrigued by Kades personal life. It seemed that Kades, a married man whose wife was in New York undergoing treatment for cancer, had a Japanese mistress and a very special one at that, the Viscountess Tsuruyo (Tae) Torio (鳥尾鶴代元子爵婦人, hereafter Torio) (1912-1991), wife of the Viscount Norimitsu Torio and mother of two children.
The stunningly attractive Viscountess Torio had been involved with Kades since the early days of the Occupation. Some believed that the Imperial Household had assigned Torio to seduce Kades in 1946 and ensure that nothing in the new constitution Kades was helping to formulate would limit the Emperor’s sovereignty.
Torio was born in 1912 and raised in privilege and luxury, but during the war years the family fell on hard times. In the early days of the Occupation Japanese officials found her elegance and fluency in English extremely effective in their dealings with the Americans.
Torio first met Kades at a dinner party for high ranking GHQ officials hosted by Cabinet Secretary Chie Narahashi at the home of prominent leftist journalist Tanzan Ishibashi. The goal of the get together was to ensure that nothing in the new constitution set limits on the sovereignty of the Emperor or otherwise weakened the emperor system.
Nicknamed the ‘Charles Boyer of the GHQ’, Kades was a man of considerable charm. As Beate Sirota Gordon, an aide to Kades who was instrumental in the inclusion of an equal rights clause for women in the new Constitution, said, “He was wonderful. All the girls in the Occupation were in love with him. Including me.”
Kades’ secretary, Ruth Ellerman put it this way, “There were a lot of upper-class Japanese women who tried to get close to the liberals in the Government Section. In the case of Kades, the attraction wasn’t just a political or an intellectual one; it was more than that. But Chuck was not the kind of man to chase after women himself; they chased after him.”
Nevertheless, Kades was reportedly very taken with Torio, and she with him. As she put it in a 1985 memoir published, she had an open marriage. Her husband kept a mistress himself, but agreed that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander. Soon Torio and Kades began enjoying romantic weekend getaways in Karuizawa, where the Torio family had a summer home. Kades also became a frequent visitor to the Torio residence in Fukuzawa, Ryogoku, parking his 1946 black silver Chevrolet in front of the house for all to see and bringing presents from the PX for Mr. and Mrs. Torio and their two children, including items forbidden to the Japanese under Occupation rules. Kades also helped Torio open a boutique in the Ginza, catering to the wives and mistresses of GHQ officers and well-heeled Japanese businessmen.
In turn, as Torio tells it in her autobiography, she helped Kades understand the Japanese as a people, explaining their devotion to Emperor Hirohito and the need to keep the emperor system in place. Torio maintained that a purge of Japan’s prewar military and financial business leaders would weaken the administrative core of the new Japan.
As part of his investigation of Kades, Willoughby arranged for a plain clothes detective from the Metropolitan Police Department to monitor his visits to the Torio residence, and to report back via Jack Canon. As the detective on this watch remarked, it did not take much work to uncover the relationship between Kades and Torio. Viscount Torio not only knew about and condoned the affair but seemed to see it as an honor bestowed on his family. Besides it left him free to pursue his own interests. The Viscount would see Kades and his wife off with a friendly wave, then go to pick up his secretary and bring her back to his home. According to the detective the Torios’ neighbors could not wrap their heads around the goings on in the Torio household.
The consequences went beyond the household and the neighborhood. As the affair became increasingly public knowledge, individuals who had been purged by GHQ asked Torio to use her influence with Kades to remove their names from the purge list. All this came out when Willoughby submitted his report on Kades to MacArthur. As he put it, “Sir, in the Occupation Policy Manual, there is nothing that indicates it is all right to occupy the wife of another man. Also, I might add that Kades already has a wife.”
MacArthur, famous for saying of his men that, “They could Madam Butterfly themselves to death for all I care” was not moved to action, however, so Willoughby took the next best course of action and set about destroying Kades’ career, sending a copy of the police report to Kades’ wife in New York. Mrs. Kades took the first flight to Tokyo, confronted her husband with Willoughby’s undeniable evidence, returned to the US and filed for divorce.
An unidentified friend with Torio and Kades on the beach at Shonan.
Reverse Course kicks in
On March 1, 1948, the pro-Socialist Hitoshi Ashida Cabinet took power, strongly support- ed by Kades and many in his Government Section at GHQ. MacArthur’s ban on strikes and collective bargaining had weakened the leftist movement somewhat, as had increased arrests of communist agitators by Willough- by’s people, but the new administration still enjoyed sizeable public support, a state of affairs Willoughby found intolerable.
Willoughby’s war on Kades reached critical mass in the spring of 1948 when Torio’s husband, now running a car repair business and struggling to turn a profit, tried and failed to borrow money from the Reconstruction Finance Bank, an institution backed by GHQ and set up by the Japanese government to help ailing businesses get back on their feet. The Viscount had asked his wife to ask Kades if he could find out why his loan application had been rejected. Kades did investigate and discovered that the RFN, bribed by high-ranking officials, had channeled all its funds into the Showa Electric company, Japan’s largest manufacturer of fertilizer. Key members of the Ashida government were implicated as well as the personnel in the GHQ. When Willoughby got wind of the bribes he leaked details to the U.S. wire services AP and UPI via theForeignCorrespondentsClubofJapan. Although censorship had been imposed by the Occupation’s GS, reprints of the wire service articles sent word back to Japan. In June 1948, Kozo Hinodera, President of Showa Denko, was arrested.
Shortly after Hinodera’s arrest, a glamorous heavily coiffed woman clad in a mink coat appeared at Viscountess Torio’s Ginza boutique. Torio recognized her as Hidekoma, a high-ranking geisha and a fellow customer at the beauty salon in the Imperial Hotel arcade. Hidekoma presented a bulky satchel to Torio, begging her to accept it.
“There’s a million yen in there,” she was quoted as saying in Torio’s 1985 memoir, “and there is more where that came from. Please give it to Colonel Kades and ask him to get Hinodera-san out of jail.”
Torio refused. Kades wasn’t that kind of man, she replied. He had too much integrity to accept a bribe. Hidekoma left in tears, her satchel no lighter.
In all, in November 1948, 63 more were arrested, indicted and tried in the Showa Denko scandal, including Prime Minister Ashida himself and the Minister of Finance. The Ashida government was forced to resign and Conservative leader Shigeru Yoshida, a close ally of Willoughby, became Prime Minister, ushering in four decades of right wing rule in Japan and cementing what would come to be known as the Reverse Course in Occupation history. Purged industrial and military leaders were reinstated and many early reforms repealed. Soon reports of the links between Torio-Kades and Hinodera-Hidekoma began to appear in the Japanese weeklies. Some articles portrayed Kades as a corrupt American bureaucrat who had taken as much as ¥30 million yen in bribes via his Japanese lover Torio, who was portrayed as little more than a prostitute. It was not hard to guess the origin of these rumors (see Shukan Shincho, 1970, citation below).
Tae Torio as a Ginza bar mamasan in the post-Occupation era
A final, final meeting
In December 1948 Kades was reassigned to Washington. Before he left, he visited Torio to say goodbye. Torio wanted to continue the relationship but Kades dismissed it as an impossibility: “I can’t stay here because I am too disliked by the Japanese, after what happened with the Ashida cabinet and everything. I can’t take you back to the states because there is too much discrimination against Japanese. People remember Pearl Harbor. I don’t want to hear anyone call you Jap.”
The downfall of the Ashida government and the revelations of Kades relationship with Torio ruined Kades’ career in Tokyo, but there is no sound evidence to support a cluster of contemporary rumors: that it had all been preplanned; that Torio had a connection with Showa Denko; that she had conspired with Willoughby or that she had been a paid agent of the Emperor.
Kades officially resigned from the GHQ GS in May 1949, on Constitution Day, the anniversary honoring the day of the creation of the document that Kades had done so much to forge. He had since remarried.
Tae Torio in 1985, when she published her memoir
On June 24 1949, Viscount Torio died of a cerebral stroke. After her husband’s death, the Viscountess took a position as the head of PR for Nihon Kaihatsu Kikai Co., in addition to her job at the clothing store. In 1950, she moved to the Aoyama section of Tokyo and – irony of ironies – fell in love with Kiyoshi Mori, who lived across the street from her. Mori was the fourth son of the then-President of Showa Denko and would later became a member of the Lower House. In 1953, Torio opened a bar in the Ginza called “Torio Fujin” but closed it after two years and 8 months.
In 1964, Torio traveled to New York city in an attempt to rekindle her romance with Kades, whom she had heard was once again single. Tae Torio went on a severe diet, went on a fit- ness course, bought some new outfits and set out for New York, booking into the midtown Hilton. Kades kept her waiting for days, finally making himself available on the last night of Torio’s stay. Kades took Torio out to dinner at a good restaurant. When he dropped Torio off at the Hilton, his final words were, “Got an early engagement. Nice seeing you, Tae.”
And that, as they say, was that.