711.008 North Pacific/211a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)

308. Department’s instruction No. 1262, June 5. There is being communicated to you in a separate telegram70 a draft of a memorandum [Page 762] regarding Japanese fishing operations in Alaskan waters which I desire that you present in person to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. If you find that the text contains any statement or implication which in your opinion might be prejudicial to action by the Japanese Government in harmony with the objectives sought by this Government, please telegraph your suggestions and hold in abeyance presentation of the memorandum pending receipt of further instructions. When the memorandum has been delivered, please telegraph that fact; also the text of any reply when received.

The Department offers supplemental comment and instruction as follows:

The Department is of the opinion that in view of strong indications that further to delay disposition of the Alaska fisheries problem would be to risk the occurrence of serious disturbance on the Pacific Coast, the problem cannot be allowed to await indefinitely the convenience of the Japanese Government. Time is of the essence. Fishing and maritime organizations which are very influential in the Pacific northwest have taken action toward uniting and demonstrating their opposition to Japanese fishing activities through a proposal for the suspension of the handling of Japanese ocean freight cargo at Pacific ports. Interlocking membership of the Alaska Fishermen’s Union and the Maritime Federation of the Pacific Coast facilitates the cooperation of these two organizations. The press and public of the Pacific Coast share the apprehensions manifested by these organizations over Japanese fishing operations in the North Pacific. There is, therefore, every likelihood that action taken by the interested groups in opposition to Japanese fishing in Alaskan waters will readily receive strong popular support. Although this government has, of course, no connection with the agitation it must recognize certain results which may develop therefrom, such as boycotts or other activities designed to interfere with Japanese trade, which activities this Government would be powerless to prevent.
The Department has not abandoned the possibility of a broad adjustment of the fisheries question through consultation with the several governments concerned but believes that the needs for early interim action has become pressingly urgent.
Having regard to the repeated assurances given by the Japanese Government that for the time being no licenses would be granted to Japanese fishing vessels for salmon fishing in waters off the Coast of Alaska, you should strongly urge upon the Japanese Government the desirability of these assurances being supplemented by further assurances that the operation of Japanese fishing vessels in the offshore salmon fishing areas of Alaska will be prohibited pending discussions in regard to and the working out of a permanent and comprehensive [Page 763] arrangement for the general protection of the fisheries of the North Pacific Ocean, and you should impress upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs the importance of there being taken by the Japanese Government early action in order to reduce the risk of disturbing incidents.
The Japanese Government should be discouraged from any thought that we anticipate sharing with Japan the salmon resources of Alaska.
For your own information the Department has given careful study to the interest of Canada in this matter and is advising the Canadian Government of the course of action this Government is taking.

  1. Infra.