My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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TOKYO—After lunch last Monday we visited the Meiji shrine and park. The iris are in full bloom and a sight worth seeing. They are every possible color, from dark purple and dark blue to pale mauve and white.

There were the loveliest pink and white waterliliess in the pond above the iris, and the short walk that leads to the shrine is through lovely woods. It is a quiet and beautiful spot.

Afterwards we went shopping but I think I am not very good at deciding just what I want and had better leave it to my daughter-in-law.

Mr. Matsumoto, the chairman of the Cultural Exchange Club, brought me three of the most beautiful books on the art and architecture of Japan that same day. It will be a wonderful reminder of the wonderful things we have seen here.

Tuesday was one of my most strenuous days. At a few minutes after ten we met with some thirty members of the Civil Liberties Union.

General MacArthur invited Mr. Roger Baldwin to come in '47 to help the Japanese organize a Civil Liberties Union. It is a very necessary organization since for a country to come from feudalism to democracy and from ignoring the individual rights of human beings to proper respect and freedom for the individual, requires real watchfulness on the part of those who wish to succeed in making this transition.

This group here keeps in close touch with Mr. Baldwin and they watch everything which happens in the U.S. with great care. They asked me, for instance, why we would not present any one of the four Covenants, the one on genocide, the one on political rights of women, and the two Convenants on Human Rights, for ratification. They said they had heard that certain professors holding communist views were being dismissed from universities in the U.S. Did I consider this compatible with freedom of thought and expression? Did I think the use of the atomic bomb was compatible with international law? They presented me with a long treatise proving it was not, and so it went for two solid hours.

At the end of the meeting I was delighted to have Dr. Alfred C. Oppler, legal advisor of Far East Command HQ, tell me he thought I had done a very good and competent job of explanation.

From three to five we were at Keio University, one of the private universities in Tokyo. I was pleasantly surprised to find a group of open minded students who discussed a variety of subjects and who did not present me with a petition against rearmament.

A library school has just been opened in this university, taught by Americans. These will be the first trained librarians in Japan and they may change the way libraries have been used in the past here. The American director of the school told me that as a rule books were kept under lock and key and that to use them was practically impossible heretofore.

For an hour and a half I spoke and answered questions and then I attended a tea for half an hour.

At six o'clock I was at the YWCA for a forum on the status of women in Japan. This lasted until eight o'clock and when I got back to the hotel for dinner, I will confess I felt somewhat wrung out as though I had been concentrating on such a variety of things all day that I would need a little time to take in ideas again.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Tokyo (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 25, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.