236 Ball to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram ACJ9 TOKYO, 6 May 1946


Critical food shortage seems certain to develop in urban areas in Japan from now until the end of September. As acknowledged by SCAP representative at last Council meeting [1] the cause is not over all deficiency of home production but excessive consumption in last seven months because of hoarding in rural areas and extensive black market. In Tokyo 40 per cent of the food consumed in December was purchased on the black market.

SCAP officers have estimated that home production will only permit average intake of 471 calories per diem in urban areas in the next five months. Some officers estimate that intake of 1550 calories necessary to prevent malnutrition [and unrest.] [2] To attain this level imports of 2,600,000 tons would be required before the end of September.

As reported in my A.C.J.8. I raised the question of food at the last Council meeting but the chairman took the firm view that the question of food imports to Japan was no matter for the Council.

Pending an explicit Directive from F.E.C. I feel that no useful purpose could be served by pursuing this aspect further. [3] However, food imports necessary during the next 5 months and next year are closely related to the next rice crop which will be harvested at the end of this year. A good crop would compensate for low consumption in the next few months and with strict control over distribution probably remove the necessity for large imports next year.

Key to the next crop is fertilizer production which at present is only 25 per cent of requirements. Practically no supplies of superphosphates or potash. Production of ammonium sulphate, particularly important for rice crop, about 30 per cent in all.

The only solution is import of fertilizers and raw materials for their manufacture, particularly phosphate rock.

SCAP do not appear to have given the question of fertilizer production and imports the attention it deserves. I propose at the next Council meeting to raise the question of food again but concentrate on the necessity to do everything possible now to assure a good crop for next year and tighten the system of rationing to prevent a recurrence of the present acute shortage.

After drawing attention to this aspect I propose to recommend that special efforts be made to increase local production of fertilizers and to arrange for imports of manufactured fertilizers and of raw materials, will also stress the need to curb black market.

Please instruct whether you approve.

1 Held on 30 April and reported in cablegram ACJ8 of the same date.

2 Words in square brackets have been inserted from the Tokyo copy on file AA:A5104/2, 1/3/2.

3 On 25 April, in view of the world food shortage, expected to become critical in the following three months, and of conditions prevailing in the territories of the Allied Powers, the F.E.C. had unanimously approved a motion that 'except to the extent that SCAP, with the advice of the Allied Council for Japan, determines that imports are essential immediately for the safety of the occupation forces, no imports shall be permitted which will have the effect of giving to the Japanese a priority or preferential treatment over the peoples of any Allied Power or liberated area'.

it had requested the U.S. Govt immediately to review the food import program for Japan in consultation with UNRRA, the Combined Food Board and other allocating authorities. Atcheson informed the A.C.J. on 30 April that no directive based on this decision had been received, and that SCAP was not concerned with food consumption levels in other countries.

[AA:A1067, ER46/13/19/1]