711.008 North Pacific/282a: Telegram

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

39. There are given below excerpts from accounts in the New York Times of February 2 and 3 in regard to hearing on the Dimond bill,11 which indicate the nature of the testimony given by leading witnesses. You may informally make use of this material in any manner that you think might be effective:

“Anthony J. Dimond, Alaska’s delegate to Congress, has introduced a bill which would give this country jurisdiction over the fishing grounds hundreds of miles at sea and would provide for the confiscation of Japanese fishing boats taking salmon from these waters.

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With other Alaskans he presented evidence to show that the Japanese, in spite of official denials, had last year started taking the salmon, returning to spawn in Alaskan rivers, in tremendous quantities.

Frank T. Bell, commissioner of the Bureau of Fisheries, testified to receiving reports from the Coast Guard of the appearance of one of the floating Japanese canneries 25 miles off shore, another 14 miles off the Alaskan shore, and another 130 miles out.

This last vessel was licensed by the Japanese Government to fish in Siberian waters, he said.

Mr. Bell testified that through conservation the fisheries had been built up to a stable, dependable business, but that if foreign vessels did not keep the conservation laws, Americans would certainly seek to violate them and the fisheries would be destroyed.

Mr. Dimond placed the life of the famous Bristol Bay red salmon fisheries, now yielding $12,000,000 a year, at 5 years unless the Japanese were curbed.

‘I am gravely apprehensive that unless suitable legislation is passed there will be armed conflict in the Bering Sea,’ he said.

Mr. Dimond warned that a private war of this type would endanger the foreign relations of the United States a thousand times more than by the enactment and enforcement of the legislation he proposed.

The Japanese entrance upon Alaskan salmon fisheries was assailed by H. B. Friele, Alaskan salmon packer, who declared that the Japanese ‘wield a two-edged sword over us’.

‘They take our fish and then, exporting to England, they take our customer,’ he explained.

He said the Japanese consumed none of the red salmon, exporting it for the most part to Great Britain, one of the most important customers of the salmon fisheries and canneries of Alaska.

The witness presented evidence to show that in the last season the Japanese had caught and packed 250,000 cases of red salmon in Bristol Bay.”

For your information, the Department did not instigate the bill and has not expressed views to the committee conducting the hearings and does not expect to appear at the hearings unless urged by the committee to do so.

  1. Bill (H. R. 8982) introduced on January 15, 1938, by Delegate Anthony J. Dimond, of Alaska; Congressional Record, vol. 83, pt. 1, p. 608.