Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954 Volume XIV, Part 2, China and Japan (in two parts), Document 817
lot 55 D 480
No. 817 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Director of the
Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (McClurkin)
[Washington,] October 23, 1954.
Foreign Minister Okazaki of
Ambassador Sadao Iguchi,
Embassy of Japan
Mr. Tanaka, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan
Walter S. Robertson,
Robert J. G. McClurkin,
Acting Director, NA.
Mr. Okazaki said that he had
originally thought $1 million would be enough to satisfy the various
Japanese claims in connection with the damages suffered by Japan as a
result of the explosion of the hydrogen bomb at Bikini. Then Kuboyama
died and the Japanese are finding that even at this late date many
tunafish have to be thrown out because of radioactivity. These facts
have changed the situation.
He himself had talked on the telephone to Tokyo the day before and he is
now convinced that one million dollars will not achieve the purpose of a
settlement which will be generally thought to be satisfactory. He
pointed out that the Japanese Government has already put out 430 billion
yen in loans to people in the fishing industry who have suffered losses.
Some of the people in Japan have proposed a partial settlement now, and
then continuing discussion of the total amount. He himself would rather
have it all handled at one time. His own personal belief, which had been
confirmed with Tokyo, was that it might possibly be done for $1 1/2
million but that a figure of $2 million would certainly constitute a
satisfactory final settlement.
Mr. Robertson said that we
understand how difficult this problem is for the Japanese Government and
people. We are deeply distressed and concerned that the tests should
have produced such unfortunate and unexpected results. He wanted to
emphasize that the expenditures of billions of dollars which we are
making in our atomic program are not only for ourselves but to serve the
dual purpose of protecting the human race from Communist enslavement,
and also leading toward the peaceful uses of atomic energy with all
their great potentialities. Mr. Okazaki commented that he had told the Diet the same
thing and had been bitterly attacked for it. Nevertheless, he believes
that it is true.
Returning to the question of the settlement, Mr. Okazaki said that he had tried to
achieve a settlement of one million dollars but this effort had failed.
To attempt to do so now would really end the Yoshida government even though the situation had changed
somewhat after the Toya Maru accident, which the
Japanese Government greatly regretted. With respect to the Bikini
incident, Mr. Yoshida had clearly
indicated that the Japanese Government does not want to make use of the
case to squeeze money out and in fact he may still be against asking for
more than one million dollars. However, Mr. Okazaki believes that this amount would not be enough to
create a good public feeling about the settlement in Japan and that such
a settlement would be damaging to good United States–Japanese
Mr. Robertson said that we want to
do what is fair and equitable but we do not want to set precedents which
would be unfortunate. He agreed completely with Mr. Okazaki that it would be preferable to
have a final settlement. If this proves impossible, perhaps a legal
inquiry might be instituted but we hope this can be avoided. If we can
agree on a definite figure which the Japanese Government can be sure of
we would earnestly consider it. We think that $2 million would be
perhaps too high, but that something between $1 and $2 million might be
satisfactory. Anything over a million dollars may possibly require Congressional action and the
resulting discussions may possibly lead to bad reactions in United
States public opinion. However, the important thing now is to see if we
can reach agreement on some definite figure.
Mr. Okazaki said that he
appreciated having Mr. Robertson’s views and that he hoped that we could reach a
settlement before the testing program is resumed. He asked whether we
had any idea when the tests might be resumed, saying that he needed
advance notice in order to prepare people in Japan. Mr. Robertson said he did not have this
information but that Mr. Okazaki
could be assured of our full cooperation in this respect.