The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

[This column has emendations. View original version]


NEW YORK—I am sure everyone is glad the President is safely home again, and we listened with interest on Monday night when he told about his trip on television.

However, I have a letter, just received, from Japan which tells in part the other side of the story. A widow of 40 writes:

"Mr. Hagerty's trouble in Japan was very bad. We Japanese all disapprove of Prime Minister Kishi's policy....Today's action and demonstration was anti-Kishi and against the U.S.-Japan security treaty's a movement of people who love peace and not `armed peace'....Our people want to guard democracy and peace...."

This does not look to me as though we could hide behind a statement that the demonstrations going on in Tokyo are communist inspired. They reveal more a situation of internal division among the people.

We must remember that Kishi represents the reactionary government and military policy that existed before the war, and the Japanese people whom we have urged to be a peaceful people seem to have learned the lesson too well!

While we want them to be armed against Communist China and Russia, we tell them we never intended that they should not arm to defend themselves! So, it seems it was only for possible aggression against us that we did not want them to rearm. This is understandable. But I am afraid we again find ourselves supporting the reactionary internal forces and a purely military treaty, when our treaties should be less and less military and more cultural and economic.

Why not leave to the people themselves what they want to do in a military way? If we relieve them of some of their economic and cultural burdens, they can look after their own military needs, and it will be far better for our own interests. At present we are getting the name of being interested in military activities only, a situation that we should not allow to develop.

I have an interesting letter about a recent column I wrote in answer to a letter from the Merchant Marine Service, which was asking for reserve status for merchant seamen.

This present letter comes from a group that belongs to the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and it points out that the acquisition of a reserve status would change the character and rights of the merchant seamen.

It points out that these are men who go to sea of their own volition. If they were in a reserve and could be forced in times of a national crisis to go to sea under whatever conditions were laid down by the military services they would immediately scrap their civilian rights on wages and working conditions which they have struggled so hard to obtain. Also, if they were in a military reserve, the President could declare a crisis or an emergency if the merchant seamen called a strike.

On the other hand, the first letter had mentioned a number of benefits that would come to the merchant seamen who fought in the last war if they could have reserve status.

Now, I rather think this has become a question of balancing one group of advantages against another and doing the same with the disadvantages on both sides. I feel quite unable to make the study to decide which I think is the wise thing to do, but I would like to see the merchant seamen get a fair deal because I consider they did a magnificent piece of work in the last war under very difficult and dangerous circumstances.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 29, 1960

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