My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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TOKYO, Aug. 23—The other morning we went to the big fish market, which is really quite a sight. There were enormous pieces of tuna fish, fascinating green crabs and more fish of every size, shape and description than I have ever seen. They hold an auction early in the morning for the big retailers of fish. After this the public can walk through the aisles or booths and buy what they want or go to the little shops in the neighboring streets where the price might be a little more but still would be moderate. I saw a man sweeping up small pieces of fish from the floor in the big market that had dropped from the stands, and Mrs. Matsumoto said that he probably took those scraps and sold them in a cheap market for poor people. This seemed to me rather appalling and certainly not very sanitary.

When we left the market we visited a cultured-pearl merchant where we saw an infinite variety of pearls and tried to tell the difference between them. I finally decided that the value of a pearl depends on what an individual personally likes. I was told that pearls with a pink luster had been the most popular pearls until recently, now gray ones were more in vogue. However, my preference is still for ones with the pinkish color.

We lunched at International House and I was glad to see some of my friends who helped to plan my activities when I was here two years ago. Later we went to the museum and saw some interesting archeological finds dating back to the sixth century B.C., most of which were found in burial mounds. We also had a glimpse of lovely textiles and then saw some screens and drawings of a later period. We dined in the evening with our ambassador, Mr. John M. Allison, and his wife, and I asked the ambassador some of the questions I had put to my Japanese friends at luncheon. I was glad to find that he felt much the way they did on the subject of Japanese reactions to America.

My curiosity and interest in this was prompted primarily by the fact that on the way out in the plane several people had shown me clippings of articles written by Americans that told of the anti-American feeling which seemed to be on the increase in Japan. But both groups of people—the Americans who have been here over two years and the Japanese—felt that this feeling was principally local. If the Americans took land for a new air strip and reduced land available for agriculture then the farmers were angry, but that was a local situation, not a national one.

The real concern of the Japanese people is trade. Most responsible Japanese know the trade with Communist China will only be about 10 percent of all their trade but it is vital for them to renew trade relations with Communist China. There is great satisfaction here over reductions which we have made in our tariffs, but these do not appear to be enough and the Japanese feel the need to develop their trade with many other countries. The most unpopular change with the Japanese in American policy was our decision that it was necessary for Japan to rearm after the cold war began. The students expressed their rage as did many others. However, a defense army has been built up and now I see from an article in the paper this morning that when Japanese troops reach a certain number Japan will undoubtedly wish to see American troops withdrawn. Personally, I think this would be a good idea because it would give the Japanese a sense of complete freedom, which would be good for their morale and for our friendship.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 24 August 1955