Memorandum by the Acting Assistant Chief of the International Resources Division (Flory) to the Informal Interagency Committee on Japanese Fishing and Marine Industry


Subject: Policy with respect to Japanese fishing.

The Committee held a meeting on February 11, 1947, at 3:00 p.m., in Mr. Flory’s office, for further consideration of the U.S. position with respect to Japanese fishing policy. This meeting was called as a consequence of developments at the last meeting of Committee 2, of the Far Eastern Commission, February 6, 1947, when all members of Committee 2 except the member for the U.S. expressed support of the Australian proposal that the fisheries policy directive under which SCAP is currently operating be revised to specify a limited area in which the Japanese may conduct fishing and whaling operations, and to provide that Japanese whaling operations be restricted to such area. The U.S. had submitted a counterproposal which would provide, in brief, that subject to security provisions and Japanese adherence to conservation measures, the areas where the Japanese should be permitted to fish be a matter for the administrative discretion of SCAP, except that the Japanese should not fish in waters within 50 miles of areas under the jurisdiction of foreign governments without the consent of such governments. The U.S. member of Committee 2 agreed [Page 180] that the U.S. would further consider the possibility of consent to a limitation of area, but indicated that any such area would probably be considerably larger than the area proposed by Australia.

Following is the substance of the discussion at the meeting of the informal interagency committee:

Mr. Flory stated that the current controversy in the FEC points up two conflicting philosophies with respect to the future of Japan. On the one hand there is the view, as expressed by most members of the FEC, that the Japanese should be rather rigidly controlled and their economic activities restricted. This view arises in part out of psychological fears engendered by Japanese activities in the pre-war period, by their disregard for the conservation policies and the rights of other nations, by their utilization of fishing operations as a cloak for spying activities and other preparations for war; in part out of a fear of economic competition from the Japanese in the future, a fear that they may again flood the world with cheaply-made products. On the other hand is the view that the Japanese must be permitted such a degree of economic activity as to enable them to feed themselves, to maintain a standard of living that will at least be high enough not to constitute an urge to foreign aggression, and eventually to take their place in the family of nations.

It is the latter view which has formed the basis of our thinking in the formulation of the existing fisheries policy paper, FEC–035,28 and our counterproposal to the Australian paper. It is our feeling that the fact that Japan is a defeated nation should not be the determining factor in decisions relating to her future economic development. The establishment of a 50–mile zone around foreign countries in which Japanese might not fish without specific consent of the coastal state, was suggested by the U.S. counterproposal as an interim measure to avoid possible armed conflicts between the coastal and Japanese fishermen.

As has been repeatedly stated, the existing fisheries policy directive, and any new directives that FEC may agree upon, are only interim measures, pending the final decisions to be made at the peace conference. But interim measures unavoidably are construed as precedents. Our consent now to a limitation of fishing areas and a restriction of whaling activity would constitute a capitulation to the philosophy of restriction—a temporary capitulation perhaps, but nevertheless a step which would make that much more difficult an eventual agreement on a more liberal policy toward the Japanese economy. Moreover, any restriction on Japanese fishing areas should be considered only in relation to the total of economic activity to be permitted the [Page 181] Japanese. It may well be (as the U.K. member of the FEC committee has suggested), that an expansion of the fishing industry, in compensation for other industries to be disallowed, would constitute less of a threat to the security or to the economies of other nations than, an expansion of other industries that may be permitted to the Japanese.

Mr. Flory felt that the present situation might be summed up in these two questions: Are we going to bring out these fundamental policy differences now, and fight them through to the bitter end? Or should we work out each situation on an ad hoc basis, waiting until the peace conference to argue the general policy?

Other members of the committee suggested that this raised another question: Would it be preferable for the U.S. to “hold out” on this present question before the FEC (which is already torn by other controversies on which agreement has not been reached), or to attempt some form of compromise in the interest of international cooperation and good will? Along the lines of the latter alternative, Mr. Bowman29 suggested the possibility of agreeing to that part of the Australian paper which proposes a limited fishing area, but resisting the move, to restrict pelagic whaling. Mr. Van Sant30 suggested that, since fishing was probably of more vital importance than whaling to the Japanese economy, it might be preferable to press for continuance of the existing directive, but agree to a proviso that any future Japanese, whaling activities in the Antarctic be subject to FEC approval.

Mr. Allison31 felt that the security factor might be taken care of by limitation on the size of Japanese vessels, and all agreed that it would be useful to inquire as to the direction of the thinking of the Shipping Division on this question. Mr. Allison also suggested that it would be helpful to discuss this question with Mr. George Atcheson, Political Adviser to SCAP, who is presently in Washington. The members representing the Departments of Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture stated that there would probably be within their Departments pressures for the restrictive policy, but they felt that there might possibly be eventual concurrence in the broader view.

It was agreed that Mr. Flory would prepare a summation of the, views discussed at the meeting, for circulation to the members before further action is taken.

It is suggested that another meeting of the informal interagency, committee be held on February 19 or 20. In the meantime the committee [Page 182] members may wish to consult with other officers in their Departments on this subject.32

  1. Not printed.
  2. Dean O. Bowman, Chief of the Foreign Trade Section, Division of Northeast Asian Affairs.
  3. Edward R. Van Sant, Assistant Chief of Fisheries Section, International Resources Division.
  4. John M. Allison, Assistant Chief, Division of Japanese Affairs.
  5. The committee met on February 26 and approved a statement that the policy in FEC–035 should continue except that the FEC should be consulted and should approve Japanese whaling operations outside the area prescribed in Scapin 1033, June 22, 1946. (894.628/2–2647)