No. 759
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (McClurkin)



  • Japanese Fishermen Who Suffered from Radioactive Fall Out


  • His Excellency Sadao Iguchi, Ambassador of Japan
  • General Walter Bedell Smith, Acting Secretary
  • Mr. Robert D. Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary
  • Mr. Robert J. G. McClurkin, Acting Director, NA

Ambassador Iguchi came in at the Acting Secretary’s request. The Acting Secretary said that he regretted having to tell the Ambassador that the United States Government is seriously disturbed about the way in which the case of the 23 Japanese fishermen is being handled in Japan. The low point in Japanese medical hostility came with the last report1 in which certain Japanese doctors had said that they had asked for assistance but had received no reply. Actually, the best American assistance available had been offered. Dr. Morton and Mr. Eisenbud had gone to Tokyo, but since their assistance was not used and the information they could have [Page 1639] provided was apparently not required, they had left. However, they had emphasized that the offer for assistance still holds good. The Acting Secretary said that it would be extremely unfortunate if anything should mar the harmony in the relations between the U.S. and Japan, especially at this time as we approach a conference when the Communists will undoubtedly make every fantastic charge they can think of. He requested the Ambassador to convey to his Government our concern, and said he felt he must protest in the most friendly way possible the statement made by the Japanese doctors.

Ambassador Iguchi said that there was some feeling in Japan that Dr. Morton was not as sympathetic in the treatment of patients as he might have been in his work at Hiroshima. When he saw the injured fishermen he expressed no word of consolation to them. However, Ambassador Iguchi said he did not want to offer excuses. He had sent a telegram to his Government after talking about the same subject with Mr. Murphy on April 16.2 He would immediately communicate again with his Government to let them know of the serious concern of the U.S. Government.

The Acting Secretary emphasized our desire to be helpful, and said that we would be glad to do anything that we can if the Japanese Government would just let us know. He hoped that a pattern of cooperation could be developed, particularly since we are both anxious that nothing should happen which might interfere with a successful trip to the United States by Prime Minister Yoshida.

  1. Telegram 2574 from Tokyo, Apr. 21, not printed. (711.5611/4–2154)
  2. This conversation is briefly summarized in telegram 2305 to Tokyo, Apr. 17: “Iguchi called on Murphy April 16 at own request and among other subjects mentioned preliminary Japanese views on compensation. Murphy gave US reactions to Japanese handling incident including frank statement re suspicions which exist and requested effective cooperation Japanese Government in order prevent unfortunate results for United States-Japanese relations.” (711.5611/4–1554) For another portion of this message, see footnote 5, Document 757.