My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NIKKO, Japan—Just before I left the United States there was a good deal of publicity given to the arrival of 25 girls from Hiroshima for plastic surgical treatment in the U.S. From what I hear plastic surgery does not seem to be as advanced in Japan as in some other countries. There is a definite need for special teaching and for special kinds of hospital equipment needed in this kind of surgery. But it is not only the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who would profit if Japanese doctors had an opportunity for training in plastic surgery. There are always many other cases where it is necessary. Instead of bringing persons to the United States for treatment it seems to me that we could do more good if we helped the Japanese meet this problem of plastic surgery with their own doctors. It may well be, of course, that the United Nations is a better agency to handle this than the United States. The World Health Organization carries on teaching projects all over the world, and technical assistance can be called upon. The one difficulty may be in obtaining money for equipment, as technical assistance can only provide experts, and World Health Organization works on a very limited budget. However, a real need such as this can always be met if the proper people know about it and are really concerned.

I find that one of the mistakes we made in Japan in the early days when so much was needed quickly for rehabilitation was not to mention that what we were providing was a loan and would eventually have to be repaid. Students even came to the United States without even realizing that their government would someday have to pay back their expenses. Now negotiations are going on to ascertain the exact sums which Japan owes us and it is one of the causes of friction between the two countries.

It is clear from this that even after a war nations have to be very careful to have clear understandings about all the arrangements that are made.

We visited the famous shrines here on Saturday morning, and I found them just as colorful and impressive as the first time I was here. The Chinese influence is very evident in Nikko, and it has had a great effect on Japanese culture and art everywhere. The trees in Nikko are particularly beautiful and form a wonderful setting for all the shrines. The trees remind me of our redwoods and many of them are 300 years old. The stone work leading up to the shrines is remarkable too, for the stones are very large and stay in place without any cement.

In the afternoon we drove up into the mountains over a recently completed highway which makes 30 turns as it climbs higher and higher. The lakes and waterfalls were lovely and we had the chance to get out and take a walk as so many of the Japanese were doing.

I heard someone say to an intelligent Japanese that, had their leaders been a little wiser they might have been on the winning side of the war. The answer came at once: "No, it was better for us to lose, otherwise we would not have changed our system of government."

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 28 August 1955