Memorandum by Mr. Eugene H. Dooman of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs

Conversation: Mr. Hirosi Saito, the Japanese Ambassador;
Mr. Sayre;44
Mr. Dooman.

Mr. Sayre said that he had invited the Japanese Ambassador to call on him, as he wished to speak frankly in regard to certain problems [Page 952] created by competition offered by Japanese goods. Mr. Sayre recalled that last year the Japanese Ambassador and the Chargé d’Affaires had stated that the Japanese Government would be appreciative if its attention were called to disturbances in American markets by Japanese competition, in order that the Japanese Government by voluntary action might ameliorate or otherwise satisfactorily modify the conditions complained of, and thus make unnecessary the imposition by the American Government of restrictive measures. Conformably to that suggestion, Mr. Sayre proposed that there be held between the Department and the Japanese Embassy a frank exchange of views as between friends. The Japanese Ambassador indicated assent.

Mr. Sayre said that there were certain focal points of difficulty, and that if attention could be given at this early stage to these focal points, there would be no reasonable basis for agitation. The first of these focal points was the imports into the United States of cotton textiles from Japan. Mr. Sayre said that the quantities involved were not substantial, but that there had been during the past two or three months a sharp increase in quantity, which increase caused American manufacturers much alarm. In short, it was not the quantity imported from Japan which was the principal cause of alarm but the rate at which imports were increasing.

Mr. Sayre supposed that the Japanese Ambassador had noticed the publicity given by certain individuals to recent increases in imports of cotton textiles into the Philippine Islands from Japan. He said that there had been initiated last year a proposal that the Philippine Legislature place a heavy duty on imports of cotton textiles from Japan; that the Department had, for various reasons, recommended that such action be not taken; but that, however, certain Congressmen had been active in criticizing the Department; and that it was now feared that, unless some remedial action were taken by Japan, the resulting political pressure might become unmanageable.

Mr. Sayre said that another focal point was the imports of pottery from Japan. He assumed that the Japanese Ambassador was aware that an investigation by the Tariff Commission had been ordered under Section 3 (e) of the National Recovery Act.45 The Tariff Commission might find that the circumstances did not warrant the taking of action under the clause mentioned of the Act, but another investigation had been ordered under Section 336 of the Tariff Act46 to determine the difference in the costs of manufacture in the United States and in Japan, and he feared that as a result of the second investigation the [Page 953] Tariff Commission might have to recommend the taking of some action. He recalled that the Tariff Commission had ascertained that the Japanese Government had voluntarily taken action to raise the export prices of Japanese pottery, and it was his thought that it might be possible for the Japanese Government to take suitable measures which would make unnecessary the taking of action by the United States on the basis of probable findings by the Tariff Commission.

Mr. Sayre said that still another focal point involved a small amount, but that it was a matter which had engendered considerable heat and would offer a basis for political agitation. He referred particularly to the imports from Japan of sun goggles. The total amount imported was not large, but in this case, as in others, there had been a sudden flood of goods from Japan which had greatly alarmed American manufacturers.

Mr. Sayre wished to impress upon the Japanese Ambassador that it was not the desire of the American Government to place hindrances in the way of the development by Japan of a market in the United States for its products; as the Japanese Ambassador well knew, the American Government is sparing no effort to remove barriers to international trade; however, there had developed a situation which should be adjusted, if possible, by cooperation with the Japanese Government, in order that there might be obviated the necessity of resort to measures which would have unfortunate effects upon popular feeling. The adjustments proposed, Mr. Sayre said, were purely of a temporary character, and he hoped that improvements in conditions in all parts of the world would soon make them unnecessary.

The Japanese Ambassador expressed his appreciation of the spirit with which he had been approached by Mr. Sayre, and he confidently expected that the Japanese Government would respond favorably to the invitation to adjust commercial difficulties through friendly discussion and cooperation. He said that he would report the substance of the conversation to his Government, but that he would be in position to enter into discussions without awaiting a reply from Tokyo. To that end he would be glad to see Mr. Sayre at any time or instruct his subordinate officers to call on Mr. Dooman.

The conversation ended with an exchange of amenities.

  1. Assistant Secretary of State.
  2. Approved June 16, 1933; 48 Stat. 195, 196.
  3. Approved June 17, 1930; 46 Stat. 590, 701.