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Exchange of Messages Between the President and the Prime Minister of Japan on Nuclear Tests.

October 04, 1957

[Released October 4, 1957. Dated October 1, 1957]

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I have for a long time given serious and thoughtful consideration to the issue you raise in your communication of September 24 regarding the continuation of nuclear testing, which has been the subject of discussion between us in the past.

Unfortunately, I have been able to reach no other conclusion than that for the time being and in the present circumstances, the security of the United States, and, I believe, that of the free world, depends to a great degree upon what we learn from the testing of nuclear weapons. We are at a stage when testing is required for the development of important defensive uses of nuclear weapons, particularly against missiles, submarines, and aircraft, as well as to reduce further the fallout yield from nuclear weapons. To stop these tests in the absence of effective limitations on nuclear weapons production and on other elements of armed strength and without the opening up of all principal nations to a measure of inspection as a safeguard against surprise attack in which nuclear weapons could be used is a sacrifice which would be dangerous to accept.

We are aware of the preoccupations with the question of health hazards connected with nuclear testing. We believe that these are ill founded. However, we have pledged to conduct those tests which may be necessary only in such a manner as will keep world radiation from rising to more than a small fraction of the levels which might be hazardous. Also, as you know, the General Assembly has established a scientific committee to study this problem. This committee is due to report by July 1958, and its findings will no doubt be fully debated in the United Nations.

We believe that nuclear tests can and should be suspended if other limitations of the type I have mentioned are agreed upon. Accordingly, the United States has joined with the Governments of the United Kingdom, France, and Canada in presenting proposals which provide for the suspension of testing in this context. Of special importance, I think, is the proposal that further production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes be stopped and a beginning be made in the reduction of existing weapons stockpiles. We believe that if this proposal is widely supported in the General Assembly, it will be accepted by the Soviet Union. In this event, we would be assured that atomic energy in the future would be devoted to peaceful purposes everywhere in the world.



Note: The Prime Minister's message of September 24, 1957, follows:

My dear Mr. President:

I have the honour to call Your Excellency's attention to the proposal submitted by the Japanese delegation to the present session of the General Assembly on 23 September, 1957 the question of disarmament and nuclear test explosions.

Japan as a peace-loving nation ardently desires prompt realization of a general disarmament, particularly, prohibition of the manufacture, use and test of nuclear weapons as is clearly stated in the several resolutions of the Diet, which have been duly transmitted to Your Excellency's government. My government, recognizing the urgent necessity of ending all nuclear test explosions, has repeatedly requested your government to suspend such tests. But to our profound disappointment, none of the countries concerned has so far taken the initiative to suspend nuclear test explosions. But they all go on repeating their tests, creating a vicious circle of the most regrettable kind, which does nothing to lessen distrust among nations.

The recent Disarmament Conference, while giving indications of partial agreement among the powers concerned, came to an impasse on account of the disagreement of views as to whether suspension of nuclear test explosions should be carried out in connection with other aspects of disarmament, or it should take place separately from them. This difference in opinion is perhaps irreconcilable, and it may be extremely difficult to resolve the present impasse. But when we consider the proposition on the one hand that disarmament negotiation be carried on while continuing with nuclear test explosions, and the proposition on the other that the negotiation be continued after having first put a stop to nuclear tests, the preferability of the latter, from the standpoint of humanity, is obvious; it is sure to be welcomed by world public opinion. I, therefore, earnestly request Your Excellency to make a thorough study of the proposal of the Japanese Delegation. Acceptance will, my government believes, pave the way for the solution of the question of disarmament and nuclear test explosions, which is eagerly wished by the Japanese people and all peoples of the world.

I avail myself of this opportunity to extend to Your Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Exchange of Messages Between the President and the Prime Minister of Japan on Nuclear Tests. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233695

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