894.245/3–1654: Telegram

No. 749
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Japan


2048. AEC gravely concerned report your 22241 and requests following actions taken urgently. State concurs.

Contact Dr. Morton ABCC Tokyo and Col Arthur Meeks USAF Headquarters to be considered technical consultants in developing full report Fukuryu Maru incident. They have been instructed report to you.
Emb should seek arrange for Maritime Safety Board take over vessel and place under effective control COMNAVFE. Vitally important reasons US security that access vessel be restricted and controlled every extent possible through Japanese Government cooperation. May be helpful this connection offer undertake full responsibility decontaminate vessel. Also desire do all possible investigate circumstances injuries received by crew members.
In accomplishing above arrangements should be made for Meeks and Morton visit vessel.

In addition warnings mentioned by Okazaki according AP report today, understand further operational warnings covering broad area were issued. Will supply you more specific information concerning actual limits warnings and when given, when received from Pacific. Minister Shima2 called today to ask similar information.

Secretary Dulles questioned by press this subject today called it “regrettable incident” on which he did not wish comment until full information received.3

  1. In this telegram, Mar. 16, the Embassy had made its first report of the exposure to radiation (from the current series of atomic tests) of seamen on the Japanese fishing vessel Fukuryu Maru (Fortunate Dragon).
  2. Shigenobu Shima, Minister at the Japanese Embassy.
  3. In telegram 2234 from Tokyo, Mar. 17, Ambassador Allison stated that he had requested of Okazaki Japanese Government approval in carrying out the measures suggested in telegram 2048 and that the Embassy was issuing a press release which included his statement of concern regarding the incident. He also asked permission to state that if investigation showed the United States to be at fault, proper compensation would be made. (894.245/3–1754)

    The Department in telegram 2106 to Tokyo, Mar. 25, authorized Allison to inform Okazaki that pending the conclusion of a cooperative investigation of the incident, the United States was prepared to reimburse the Japanese Government for financial assistance which the Embassy and the Japanese Government jointly found necessary, as an interim measure, to “accord persons involved for current medical and family relief including wages.” (894.245/3–2554) After obtaining permission from the Department, the Ambassador reported that he was releasing this information publicly on Mar. 25. (Telegram 2296 from Tokyo, Mar. 25, 711.5611/3–2554)

    On Mar. 31, Lewis Strauss, Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, made a statement concerning the atomic tests. For excerpts, see Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 12, 1954, p. 548. For the memorandum of a related telephone conversation between Strauss and Secretary Dulles, Mar. 29, see vol. ii, Part 2, p. 1379.