711.008 North Pacific/302: Telegram

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

92. Your 169, March 12, 8 p.m.

We are disappointed at and embarrassed by the failure of the Japanese Government to approve what we regard as a clear statement of a reasonable modus vivendi.
The modifications in the Japanese redraft which appear to us unsatisfactory involve especially omissions of matters so essentially important that the Department is convinced that it would not be worthwhile to lay that draft before other interested agencies of this Government for consideration. Prior to sending our draft to you, the Department had obtained the Administration’s approval and had done what was possible toward ensuring its acceptability to representatives of affected interests. Inasmuch as the substance of the Japanese assurances is regarded here as the minimum that might prove acceptable to affected interests, the Department has been and still is under the necessity of urging the concurrence of the Japanese Government in the publication of such assurances in as clear-cut a form as possible.
But the Department wishes to cooperate fully with the Japanese Government toward making the phrasing of the proposed release acceptable to all concerned. Accordingly, giving full consideration to both our draft and the Japanese redraft, the Department proposes, in regard to what appears in numbered paragraph 1 of your 169, acceptance of what precedes the clause “assurances as follows” and, in substitution for what appears thereafter, the following:
  • “(1) That the Japanese Government is suspending the 3-year salmon fishing survey which has been in progress since 1936 in the waters in question;
  • (2) That fishing by Japanese vessels is not permitted without licenses from the Japanese Government; that inasmuch as it has been the practice of the Japanese Government in the past not to issue licenses for salmon fishing to those vessels which desired to proceed to Bristol Bay or other Alaskan waters, the Japanese Government will on its own initiative continue the said practice; that in order to make effective this assurance the Japanese Government is prepared to take, if and when conclusive evidence is presented that any Japanese vessels engage in salmon fishing on a commercial scale in the waters in question, necessary and proper measures to prevent any such further operation; and that, if Japanese nationals have in the past taken salmon in commercial quantities in Alaskan waters, such fishing has been without the knowledge of the Japanese authorities.”
While this revision may be regarded as less explicit than our original draft, nevertheless, if the Japanese Government will concur in this draft, the Department will make efforts to obtain from the interested [Page 183] agencies of this Government and the public representatives of the affected interests the necessary approval of this text.
The Department is convinced that inclusion of the phrase “for the time being” would seriously undermine in the minds of our public the value of the other Japanese assurances.
The Department’s present solicitude, which it is assumed that the Japanese Foreign Office also entertains, relates to the formulating of a communiqué which, based on the assurances voluntarily given by the competent Japanese authorities, will effectively meet the present requirements of the situation. Were we to accept the modifications implicit in the Japanese redraft and make that redraft the text of a communiqué, the resultant dissatisfaction here would make almost inevitable strong pressure for enactment of the salmon fishery legislation now pending in Congress.
The situation with regard to this whole question is in this country serious. Agitation with regard to it will be allayed only through our being able to say to our people, both official and non-official, who are interested, that ground for apprehension of exploitation by Japanese vessels of the fishing resources in the waters under reference has been removed. Publication by us of the Japanese Government’s assurances in anything less than clear-cut terms would serve rather to increase than to put an end to the agitation. Confidential assurances will not meet the situation. We cannot too strongly urge concurrence of the Japanese Government in the compromise text which we propose in paragraph 3 above.
Early action is highly desirable, because: (a) publicity already given the matter, both in Japan and in this country, has created an assumption that negotiations have already been successfully concluded; (b) a press story from Tokyo yesterday stating that the Japanese are considering proposing a new basis for negotiation has already evoked unfavorable public comment from at least one of our West Coast Senators; (c) Congress will before long conclude its present session, and Members who are sponsoring proposed legislation have become increasingly impatient.
The Department appreciates the position of the Japanese Government with respect to publicity, and again refers to the suggestion contained in paragraph 5 of the Department’s telegram No. 20, January 22, 3 p.m. See in this connection your No. 54, January 26, 6 p.m., paragraph 3, subsection (d).
When replying please advise in regard to the question of additional publicity mentioned in the Department’s No. 82, March 9, 7 p.m.16 Such publicity may be important.
  1. Not printed.