711.5611/4–854: Telegram

No. 754
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Japan 1


2239. Department’s 2220,2 your 2448.3 As our object continues be acquire all facts Fukuryu Maru incident, true condition patients is important element which can only be satisfactorily obtained through direct access by Morton and his associates.4 Despite wide difference conditions exposure to radioactivity on vessel and natives and Americans in islands in path fall out whose exposure immediately known, Japanese refusal allow us full access and general failure cooperate gives some basis belief Japanese attitude stems from other than psychological grounds and they have something to hide. Also on simpler grounds lack of firsthand knowledge might well have adverse consequences if special congressional action necessary later for purposes compensation.

Hoped that statement on withdrawal5 and reply Japanese aide-mémoire 6 will produce favorable Japanese reaction leading to effective [Page 1633] cooperation and complete access patients. With timing at your discretion request you continue efforts directed obtaining firsthand knowledge patients. Using any considerations expressed Para above; emphasize deep concern felt by highest quarters US Government as result lack effective Japanese cooperation. Appreciate your excellent handling this difficult situation which involves wide range problems with respect atomic development, and our need for all facts to answer most effectively domestic and foreign critics.7

  1. Drafted in NA and cleared in S/AE, U/OC, and FE. Murphy approved the telegram for transmission.
  2. Dated Apr. 7, not printed. (711.5611/4–754)
  3. Dated Apr. 8; this telegram concluded a series of messages, all in file 711.5611 for March and April 1954, in which the Embassy detailed its contention that Dr. Morton and his staff had not been allowed sufficient access to the radiation patients (in the period subsequent to the patients’ removal to Tokyo) to enable diagnosis or prognosis of their condition. In telegram 2448, the Embassy referred to a proposal that Dr. Morton and Merril Eisenbud of the AEC should leave Tokyo but issue a public announcement concerning their activities. (711.5611/4–854) Merril Eisenbud, Director of the Health and Safety Laboratory at the New York office of the AEC, arrived in Tokyo on Mar. 22 to assist in the investigation.
  4. Although the Department in telegram 2220, Apr. 7, approved the issuance of a public statement upon the departure of Dr. Morton and Dr. Eisenbud giving a record of their activities, it had also stated: “US willingness stand by for further assistance should however be emphasized.” (711.5611/4–754)
  5. The statement was issued by Allison on Apr. 9. In the first paragraph Allison stated that on the occasion of the departure of Morton and Eisenbud he wished “to express again in the name of the United States Government our deep regret for the unfortunate accident to the Fukuryu Maru and our continuing concern for the recovery and well-being of its hospitalized crewmen. I have already announced the intention of the United States Government both to reimburse the Japanese Government for interim financial assistance to the patients and their families and, for the future, to take all possible measures to prevent any recurrence of this most regrettable accident.” In the remainder of the statement, Allison described the work done in Japan by Morton and Eisenbud. For full text, see Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 19, 1954, p. 598. Allison discussed the statement in his memoirs; see Allison, Ambassador from the Prairie, pp. 263–266.
  6. The Japanese aide-mémoire dated Mar. 31 concerned the burdens placed upon the Japanese fishing industry as a result of an enlargement of the proclaimed atomic testing danger zone. The aide-mémoire is summarized in telegram 2372 from Tokyo, Mar. 31. (711.5611/3–3154) Text of the U.S. reply delivered on Apr. 10 is in telegram 2462 from Tokyo, Apr. 9. (711.5611/4–954)
  7. In telegram 2488, dated Apr. 12, the Embassy, after reviewing the medical situation, concluded:

    “We doubt, however, as situation now stands and after successive representations to Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, that our further preachments for cooperation will produce more than limited sharing of Japanese medical investigations. If an accurate knowledge true condition patient are sufficiently important to our national health interests to make denial of direct US access matter of grave concern, we shall probably have to move to some form or other of coercion and sanctions. This will require major effort in view emotionalism that surrounds subject here, weakness of government, entrenched position of government scientists and bureaucrats, and jingoistic sensationalism of press. We doubt that threat to withhold compensation would be enough, but if we go in with something more severe, we should be prepared to see it through. Under these circumstances and as Department has left timing to me, I have not taken action requested reference telegram. We have however used all these arguments at various levels heretofore.” (711.5611/4–1254)