My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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TOKYO —In preparation for the morning session at the University the other day where I was to talk on Human Rights, I read the Japanese constitution. There is much in that constitution that requires interpretation and I wonder how the people interpreted it here and how it is interpreted by our government at home. I am told here that the English document is the original and the Japanese translation is not identical with the original so some of the people are insisting that they accepted the original and not the form of the Japanese translation. What did we accept I wonder?

It might be said that we did not have to accept the Japanese Constitution but we had a good deal to do with the writing of it and with the acceptance by the Japanese people, so we should know something about it, it seems to me, and have some conception of what it meant to persuade the people as a whole to accept it and what it means now to persuade them to change it! This is one of the burning questions among the students and the labor movement as a whole.

At three o'clock on Wednesday I spoke on Human Rights before a large packed auditorium where there must have been about 2,500 people. Again this was a speech translated paragraph by paragraph and I marvelled at the attention of the audience and their patience. There was little moving about and they listened to the end and I had a warm greeting from those who were lined up outside waiting for me as I left.

I have been astonished at the excitement evidently created in the N.Y. papers by an incident which I hardly noticed here. We must be badly in need of news for the papers to make so much of so little. My only interest was in the fact that in the group of communists which confronted me outside the Ministry of Labor, I discovered Anna Rosenberg, to be sure with a Japanese name tagged on at the end. This communist leader must be the one who caused so much trouble at home many months ago through a confusion of identity.

On Wednesday evening we went to an informal dinner at the Embassy with Ambassador and Mrs. Allison. Ambassador Allison had not formally presented his credentials to the Emperor. That took place on Thursday morning. Three coaches were sent for him an hour before his audience and he had been carefully rehearsed beforehand.

It was a very pleasant evening and when we came home my daughter-in-law said: "How easy it is when everybody speaks English ," which shows how unconsciously it is a strain when you do not know the language of a country.

It will be a good thing when in every country there will be one language that everybody learns, even every child in a public school. Then we can all talk together without any feeling of strain.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Tokyo (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 2, 1953

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a draft version of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.