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No. 844
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)



  • Bikini Compensation

At its meeting on November 3, the Operations Coordinating Board agreed that necessary funds of up to $2 million should be made available for settlement of Japan’s claims for damages resulting from the radioactive fall-out from the thermonuclear tests at Bikini.1 These funds were to be made available under Section 121 of the Mutual Security Act, and the matter was to be cleared informally with the President, although a formal request for a Presidential determination under Section 401 of the Mutual Security Act would not be submitted until the minimum acceptable reparations figure was ascertained.

An earlier meeting had authorized Ambassador Allison to negotiate up to $2 million, but with the reservation that any figure over $1 1/2 million should be reported to the Operations Coordinating Board for approval.

Ambassador Allison has just reported that the new Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Shigemitsu, has received general Cabinet approval for a settlement at $2 million. Ambassador Allison recommends that agreement be reached on this sum immediately so that an announcement can be made at New Year’s, which is a traditional time in Japan for settling accounts.

It is desirable that this question be settled. The new Japanese Government is a minority government which has promised to hold elections in March. It is therefore unlikely that it will settle this question on any terms except those which it believes to be politically favorable. In consequence, the Embassy believes—and I concur—that it is unlikely under the present circumstances that a better figure than $2 million can be negotiated. Before Ambassador Allison told the Japanese that he was authorized to settle at $2 million, he would of course make absolutely certain that the Japanese Government was fully prepared to settle at that amount without any further bargaining.

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I recommend that you ask the OCB this afternoon to approve a settlement at $2 million, and to request FOA to make the necessary formal request for a Presidential determination under Section 401 of the Mutual Security Act of 1954.2

  1. A brief summary of this discussion is in Radius’ “Preliminary Notes” of the OCB meeting held Nov. 3, not printed. (OCB files, lot 62 D 430, “Preliminary Notes I”)
  2. In “Preliminary Notes” by Max Bishop of the OCB meeting held on Dec. 29, the entire section concerning Bikini compensation reads:

    “Mr. Hoover raised the special problem of agreement to the settlement of the Japanese Bikini claims for compensation.

    “After some discussion it was agreed that the OCB should agree that settlement could be made for $2 million and that the OCB would leave the method of communicating this authorization and the settlement up to the Under Secretary of State.”

    Bishop replaced Radius as Operations Coordinator in November. (OCB files, lot 62 D 430, “Preliminary Notes I”)

    For text of the Agreement relating to compensation for personal and property damage as a result of nuclear tests in the Marshall (Bikini) Islands, effected by an exchange of notes in Tokyo on Jan. 4, 1955, see TIAS 3160; 6 UST 1.

    A 170–page chronology of the Fukuryu Maru case is enclosed with despatch 1130 from Tokyo, Mar. 28, 1955, neither printed. (711.5611/3–2855)