711.5611/4–1554: Telegram

No. 757
The Ambassador in Japan (Allison) to the Department of State


2522. Pass Bugher,1 AEC. Reference Embassy telegrams 24882 and 2497.3

Dr. Morton reports on basis his visit to test area that medical and scientific information being developed within area more complete than would now in any case be possible derive from 23 Fukuryu Maru patients. In his view, importance of Tokyo patients to US national health interest now minimal.
If Department and AEC concur, it would seem neither possession of vessel (Department’s 2107)4 nor direct access to patients is now of significant concern to us. Our interests in situation from this point on would then appear to be:
To eliminate it as focus of international agitation; and
To minimize its strain on US-Japanese relations. Immediate object for our attention would be compensation question.
Tsuchiya sought out Embassy officer . . . . Suggested single lump-sum settlement by US for subsequent distribution by Japanese Government to hospitals, ship owner, fishing industry and other claimants. If US could pay such sum quickly, whole incident might soon be buried. Embassy officer replied rapidity of payment would probably depend on amount asked but thought possibility worth exploring. Tsuchiya promised to do his best and would communicate results his efforts two or three days. He was unable suggest possible magnitude sum involved.
Difficult evaluate significance this approach, but Tsuchiya’s intervention probably not extemporaneous. Formula of single lump-sum would obviate litigiousness of interim claim as now formulated and would avoid precedent for indirect damages to fishing industry which might establish basis for extensive and continuing liability in Japan and elsewhere. We would, of course, probably wish to indicate in any public statement portion of settlement we considered [Page 1637] reserved for crew’s solatium, but we could regard entire settlement as ex gratia payment.
Would appreciate Department’s comments feasibility such formula.5
  1. John C. Bugher, M.D., Director of the Division of Biology and Medicine, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
  2. Dated Apr. 12; see footnote 7, Document 754.
  3. Dated Apr. 13, not printed. (711.5611/4–1354)
  4. Dated Mar. 23. In this telegram the Department in part stated that the AEC staff no longer felt that technical security considerations warranted attempts to obtain control of the Fukuryu Maru. (711.5611/3–2354)
  5. In telegram 2305 to Tokyo, Apr. 17, the Department commented on this formula as follows: “While Department concurs desirability minimizing Fukuryu Maru incident, considerations emphasized Department’s 2239 [Document 754] continue prevail. Apart from security information needed we cannot entertain requests for large sums in compensation without knowledge facts underlying Japanese claims. Agree lump sum settlement as ex gratia payment most favorable our position. Depending on magnitude sums involved likely that special Congressional appropriation needed. Efforts obtain passage necessary legislation or executive funds if available will be impeded unless have reliable information as basis dispel doubts re bona fides crew their real condition and other circumstances incident.” (711.5611/4–1554)