711.008 North Pacific/315: Telegram

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

201. Our 200, March 24, 11 p.m.18

1. The revised draft press communiqué for which the Foreign Office has succeeded in obtaining the approval of the Bureau of Fisheries is as follows:

“As a result of discussions between the American Government and the Government of Japan in regard to the salmon fishing activities of Japanese nationals in the off-shore waters of Alaska, especially in the Bristol Bay area, reported during the past fishing season, the Japanese Government has given, without prejudice to the question of rights under international law, assurances as follows: (1) that the Japanese Government is suspending the three-year salmon fishing survey which has been in progress since 1936 in the waters in question; (2) that inasmuch as salmon fishing by Japanese vessels is not permitted without licenses from the Japanese Government and as the Government has been refraining from issuing such licenses to those vessels which desired to proceed to the Bristol Bay area to fish for salmon, it will, on its own initiative, continue to suspend the issuance of such licenses; that in order to make effective this assurance the Japanese Government is prepared to take, if and when conclusive evidence is [Page 187] 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 operations.

The American Government appreciates these assurances which the Japanese Government has given in the spirit of collaboration in the efforts of the American Government to conserve and protect the Alaskan salmon fishery resources and is gratified that discussions have been conducted by the two Governments concerned in a friendly manner.

In view of the above assurances it is evident that if ever Japanese vessels, which were present in the waters in question to engage in crab fishing or in production of fish meal, caught salmon in commercial quantities in the past, such fishing was conducted without the knowledge of the Japanese Government.

Furthermore, these assurances of the Japanese Government are regarded as regulating the situation until such time as the problems involved may call for, and circumstances may render practicable, the taking of other measures.”

2. With regard to the insertion of the word “salmon” before “fishing” in the first clause of item numbered 2 of the draft, the Foreign Office states that it has just learned that the fish meal vessels require no licenses, although they are subject to strict governmental control and supervision.

3. With regard to the word “suspend” in the same clause, the Foreign Office points out that as salmon fishing licenses were never issued it is not strictly accurate to say that their issuance will be suspended but that, nevertheless, its insertion is made necessary by the omission of the phrase “for the time being.”

4. It will be noted that the penultimate paragraph contains in revised form the final clause of item numbered 2 of the Department’s draft. The Foreign Minister insists that no reference to reported salmon fishing in the past by Japanese nationals can be included among the assurances. The Foreign Office is confident, however, upon further reflection, that the inclusion in the press release of the paragraph proposed would have the effect desired by the Department and would also indicate that the American Government is cognizant of the presence in Bristol Bay of Japanese crab and fish meal vessels.

5. The Japanese redraft omits “Alaskan waters” for the reason, in the Japanese view, that the discussion originally concerned Bristol Bay. The Foreign Office assures us that no question will arise of salmon fishing in any part of the waters in which the American Government proposed that it should grant the right of friendly search.

6. In agreeing to the omission of the term “for the time being” the Japanese Government desires that it be clearly understood that it is not giving an undertaking of a permanent character with regard to the Japanese right to fish in Bristol Bay and requests confirmation [Page 188] of this understanding which could be conveyed in an informal letter from Dooman to Yoshizawa. Will the Department authorize such a letter?

7. The last three paragraphs if acceptable to the American Government will not be released in Japan.

8. The Foreign Office emphasizes the importance of release simultaneously in Washington and in Tokyo for the reason that if the American version were released in advance it would have news value in Japan and would be carefully studied here, whereas it would not evoke special comment if there had been a Japanese release at the same time.

9. If the new draft is acceptable to the Department, I would appreciate being informed by a rush cablegram of the time of release in Washington which should not be before 10:00 o’clock in the evening, Eastern Standard Time, March 24.

10. As the Department will observe from the late hour of this telegram the Foreign Office has again given us evidence of its desire to bring about a settlement of this difficult question as soon as possible. The discussion tonight is in fact only one on [of?], many evidences of the helpful attitude of Hirota and Yoshizawa with regard to the fisheries problem in the face of considerable domestic difficulties.

  1. Not printed.