Around the World in 34 Days
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 5 Dec 1957, p. 121-133
Williams, William E., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Three points the speaker wishes to make before detailing his recent travels. Briefly, they are that he will not simply state encyclopedia-like facts; that in almost 37,000 miles of travel he saw nothing of the "anti-American" attitude; and third, that throughout the world there is a definite drive toward nationalism expressing itself in almost all of the under-developed countries attempting to get on an industrial basis as rapidly as possible, and what that has meant for them. In the description of his travels, many subjects are discussed, including the following. Tokyo, Japan, the Japanese, democracy in Japan, trade with Japan, including some figures. Hong Kong and its booming business and industry. Thailand's seeming isolation. Cambodia's famous ruins of Angkor Wat. India as a country of contrasts. Pakistan's nationalism. Turkey's inflationary course of trying to industrialize far too rapidly. Greek prosperity. The blessings of Canada.
Date of Original
5 Dec 1957
Language of Item
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Full Text
An Address by WILLIAM E. WILLIAMS, President and General Manager, The Procter & Gamble Company of Canada Limited
Thursday, December 5th, 1957
CHAIRMAN: The President, Lt.-Col. W. H. Montague.

LT.-COL. MONTAGUE: Mr. William E. Williams, President and General Manager of The Procter & Gamble Company of Canada Limited and a member of this Club, has recently encircled the globe.

It is our very good fortune that he has accepted our invitation to address us today and to share with us some of the impressions he gathered.

Mr. Williams was born in Memphis, Tennessee, early in the twentieth century. Educated at Memphis University School, Gulf Coast Academy and Virginia Polytechnic Institute--he graduated with degrees in Science and Business Administration before his 22nd birthday.

After two years with Ford Motor Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, he joined Procter & Gamble there in October, 1930 and twenty years later, in October, 1950 and at 44 years of age, he became President and General Manager of The Procter & Gamble Company of Canada Limited.

His earlier experience with Procter & Gamble included advertising work in the Brand Section in Cincinnati, experimental sales work and sales activities proper. He was District Manager at Milwaukee and then at Detroit.

Canada scored when Mr. Williams entered the Canadian scene. Toronto, in particular, has reason to be truly grateful for his years of tremendous and continuing activity on behalf of The United Appeal. He is presently a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of The United Community Fund, Vice-President and Director of the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society, Director of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, member of the Board of Governors of the Toronto Western Hospital and a life member of the Royal Ontario Museum. He was formerly a Director of The Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

On the business side Mr. Williams is a Director of the Canadian Council of the International Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Council of the Toronto Board of Trade, a member of the Ontario Division of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Manufacturers Association, a Director of Victory Soya Mills Limited, a Director of the Imperial Bank of Canada, a member of the Presidents' Council of the American Institute of Management and a member of the National Industrial Conference Board.

Obviously, the calls on Mr. Williams' time and energy are many and varied and we consider ourselves privileged that he will address us today under the heading "Around the World in Thirty-Four Days".

Gentlemen, I present Mr. W. E. Williams, President and General Manager of The Procter & Gamble Company of Canada Limited.

MR. WILLIAMS: Mike Todd may have Elizabeth Taylor, but at least I can boast about getting around the globe in somewhat less than half the time that his hero, Phileas Fogg, made the trip.

You know, it's a wonderful thing to have a captive audience. Usually, to tell the story of your trip, your operation, or to show your movies you must lure your audience in small groups, using food and drink as a bait. Once hooked, you can then launch into it by saying, "You know, it just so happens that . . ." I am under no such compulsion and will accordingly get on with the story.

There are three basic points I would like to make at the beginning. First, I shan't attempt to give you facts readily available from the encyclopedia since this would be superfluous.

Second, in almost 37,000 miles of travel (you see I had just been to Mexico the week prior to this trip) did I see any of the "Ami, go home" anti-American type of attitude often reported. Actually, while I found some perplexity and a bit of pain over sputnik and Little Rock, I saw nothing but admiration, friendship and an attitude of hospitality toward the residents of North America.

These qualities varied in degree but were nevertheless present in a noticeable and vital form wherever I went. When you consider the age-old hatreds that exist between certain nations in the world, the minor resentment that comes about U.S. handling of their $60 billion give-away is amazing.

In Japan I saw some picketing in connection with the U.S., and upon inquiry it turned out that the socialists had urged that the U.S. Air Force move out of one particular base, which they had done. The picketing which I saw was for the purpose of getting the air force to come back since the local merchants had immediately and definitely felt the withdrawal of large amounts of spendable income.

The third point is that throughout the world there is a definite drive toward nationalism which expresses itself in almost all of the under-developed countries attempting to get on an industrial basis as rapidly as possible. This has meant that in many cases these countries have overspent themselves. Inflation is generally the rule and cutbacks are now coming into effect almost universally.

On that basis let us now proceed to the mysterious Orient, land of the geisha girls, chopsticks and sake with various bits of economic lore thrown in.

Arriving back from Mexico I packed a range of clothing designed for Bangkok at 100 degrees and Montreal at 34, and was off to Vancouver non-stop via TCA. A day of business, then CPA (Grant McConachie, please note the plug) for Tokyo. This involved some 20 hours across the Pacific on the great circle route with one refueling stop in the Aleutians, which was just what you would expect the Aleutians to be--cold, rainy and foggy.

With a day lost in my life thanks to the international dateline, we arrived on schedule at 6 a.m. in Tokyo to be greeted by a number of bowing Japanese businessmen. I was met by four which is slightly under par, this perhaps being due to the early morning hour.

I believe that the Japanese are the world's greatest plane meeters and seer-offers, this being part of the overwhelming hospitality and politeness to guests of their country.

So there I was in the land of Mount Fujiama. Incidentally, the Japanese say that the man who has never climbed Fuji is crazy and the man who has climbed it twice is twice as crazy.

Now, may I urge those of you who vizualize Japan and Tokyo as being a rather super-neat Oriental type Switzerland to forget it and start all over again.

Tokyo is a lusty, brawling, huge city--actually the largest in the world both in area and in population. Also, it has traffic that makes Rome, Paris or Caracas seem like downtown Toronto at 6 p.m. on a summer Sunday afternoon.

Tokyo has been rebuilt following the war and was rebuilt hurriedly. The broad vistas of properly restored Rotterdam are not to be found here.

Beauty spots there are, historical spots there are, but the overall impression is one of hard-working, hurrying, bustling people in a city mainly undistinguished and unbelievably dirty thanks at least in part to the current building of city's second subway.

You can find the Japan of popular concept. A train ride to the north coast, i.e., to the Sea of Japan ended up with a night spent in an inn at Iwamuro. This was the complete picture of Japan as you see it in the movies. Removal of shoes at the door, a steaming hot bath, communal if you so desire, a change to a kimono for dinner, and a full, all-out geisha party followed by sleeping on floor mats.

Having mentioned geishas let me clear up another possible misconception. Sex there is in Japan as it seems to be found elsewhere in the world, and indeed the Japanese are most matter of fact about it all, but the geisha party isn't sexy.

Actually, based upon my five experiences it is a rather dull ritual dinner where older businessmen relax and talk over their affairs while drinking sake and being entertained with traditional songs and dances by young geisha girls trained in the art. These young ladies, ranging from 15 upward, are so elaborately dressed and heavily made up that you feel as if you might be watching automated statues.

Later, as the party relaxed thanks to the sake and to santory, a quite good Japanese whiskey, you then play parlor games--games that would be quite entertaining to the 8 to 12-year old level here. I hate to be disappointing to you, but so help me, that was the way I saw it.

Now, in a more serious vein--it is my opinion and the opinion of far more experienced observers, that the free world today has two major assets, neither of which it can afford to lose. One of these is Japan and the other is the Middle East oil.

Now, Japan has gone democratic and gone with a bang. Certainly they still revere their Emperor, but the democratic ways are sold and sold solidly. There will be some changes in the rather too rapid governmental framework evolved in the post-war years, but these changes will be structural and mechanical rather than changes of the spirit.

The Japanese like what they have. They admire the North American way of doing things and they will cling to it and to us as long we will let them.

What do I mean, let them? I mean simply and literally that. Unless we people in North America let Japan sell enough merchandise of her manufacture to us, then that country cannot survive and certainly 93,000,000 people are not going to starve to death as a matter of principle. They only have one other place to which they can turn and that is back to Korea and to China where steel, coal, limestone and an unlimited consumer goods market await them.

Believe me, should this happen it would be a catastrophe by which the twelfth century invasion of Europe by Genghis Khan would be a Boston tea party.

To add Japan's manufacturing resources and equipment with their population to the population of Red China would make the combination, in my personal opinion, the most formidable force in the world.

I don't think this is going to happen if we show even the faintest vestige of intelligence, for example, I believe that we value the Middle East oil to a degree that we would willingly spend billions of dollars in defending it.

If this be so, then all we have to do to save the other valuable resource that we have in the free world is to simply allow the Japanese to sell--notice I say "sell" not give--sell enough goods of their manufacture to balance trade between Japan and Canada and Japan and the United States.

As far as Canada's part is concerned, I can do no better than to quote our new and extremely well qualified Canadian Ambassador, Fred Bull, with whom I had lunch and spent most of an entire afternoon. He points out that pre-war Canada bought about $4,500,000 worth of Japanese goods, but we sold Japan $21,000,000 worth of Canadian products.

By last year the percentage gap had closed. During 1939 we were selling the Japanese nearly $5.00 worth to every $1.00 worth that we bought. Now we are selling $2.00 worth for every $1.00 we buy--i.e. last year we bought $61,000,000 worth of Japanese goods and we sold them $128,000,000 worth of Canadian products such as lumber, wheat and manufactured goods.

This is fine progress, but it still means that Japan must go some place else in the world and sell enough merchandise to be able to pay Canada the $67,000,000 imbalance of last year, a balance which this year is anticipated to be still well above $55,000,000.

Actually, what has been happening in Japan is the same thing that has been happening in Canada. We too are buying more than we sell, but Canada has been fortunate that an influx of investment money keeps pouring in which keeps our economy solvent. Without that we would find ourselves in precisely the same shape that the Japanese are now in.

Therefore, we are brothers under the economic skin and we should be sympathetic with their position. Now, it is true that these people have low wage rates, but interesting and perhaps humorous is that the Japanese are complaining bitterly about the low cost labour in Hong Kong. It is also true that they are going to offend some segments of the Canadian manufacturing economy by selling at prices lower than seem to be right, based on our standards and way of doing things.

Nevertheless, I think this must be taken as the rub-of-the-green. I think we will find in the main that we can compete in most areas with the Japanese thanks to our better technological background and better manufacturing equipment.

Actually, Japanese manufacturing methods and standards range all the way from simple one-family operations where every one in the family will work on an item, up to first-class manufactures like Masushita who sells primarily in Japan and Asia some $125,000,000 worth of light electrical appliances. This latter plant is completely automated, uses the most modern methods known, and with labour costs ranging from $25.00 to $50.00 per month (plus quite heavy fringe benefits) obviously could be a threat.

In Japan the past post-war years have been known as "Jimmu-kieki"--that is, the biggest boom since Jimmu, the Emperor who legendarily founded Japan 2600 years ago.

This expansion has been fast--so fast that the rest of the world could not or would not buy all of the output available. Now their bank rate has been increased to 8.4%, tighter central bank reserves plus increased deposits required on import licenses, imports have dropped by some $25,000,000, and this has actually managed to swing the Japanese economy into balance.

It should be understood that these intensely proud people look back upon their historical heritage and their ancient lineage with pride that even those of us of British ancestry find hard to match, and partly for this reason they are intensely sensitive to slights of any kind.

For example, the International Chamber of Commerce gave a small luncheon for me as a member of the Canadian Council. Present were such men as the President of the Japanese I.C.C., the President of the Bank of Tokyo, etc. Following luncheon the discussion became general. Why, despite their good faith which they have shown in such ways as voluntary limitation of exports of certain classes of goods, the policing of trademark rights on a much tighter basis than ever before, the upgrading of quality standards, etc. should Japan still be on the receiving end of discriminatory acts?

They quoted, for example, the action of two southern U.S.A. cotton growing states, which had passed laws saying that where Japanese made textiles were sold a large sign must be posted to this effect in the store.

Now, the Japanese complaint is not only about such signs but the signs in a cotton area when Japan buys five times as much cotton from the United States as the U.S. imports finished textile products.

Japan has a population of 93,000,000 which is increasing at the rate of 1,000,000 persons a year, this in a country smaller than California and only about 60% as large as the Province of Alberta. Only 17% of its land is arable, even though they have rice paddies half way up the side of every mountain.

I have the strong feeling that Japan is not asking for financial aid, dollar grants, Colombo Plans, sympathy or charity. Her position is simply that here is a teeming, growing population of frugal, industrious workers who must eat to live, who must import raw materials, fabricate and then export their production in order to earn money to buy such food.

Lacking this opportunity--God forbid--she has no other alternative than the one described of swinging to the Communist side. Therefore, may I urge you to view with tolerance the Japanese efforts to live through export.

Finally, having seen no sunshine thanks to a nearby typhoon, I took off for Hong Kong, some 2,000 miles away, to find absolutely perfect tropical weather.

The most obvious statement about Hong Kong is that the city is living on borrowed time. The lease which the United Kingdom has with China expires in some 40 years, but there is always a possibility that the landlord may foreclose on the lease at any moment that happens to suit him.

If anyone in Hong Kong, however, is particularly worried about this prospect they refuse to show it. The population is up from 500,000 pre-war to 2,500,000 now thanks to refugees, and the place is obviously bulging at the seams despite frenzied building efforts.

Massive buildings are going up on every side, typified by the new Chartered Bank's headquarters complete with steel, marble, air conditioning, running through from street to street. Others like this are the rule rather than the exception. It is clear that people in Hong Kong are building for permanency.

In Hong Kong there is a wonderful hotel, the food is spectacular. The girls are beautiful, and add to their charm by wearing a chong-sam, a sheath-like dress slit far above the knees. Then, prices are unbelievable because literally everything in the world is available here in this duty-free port at prices far below home country costs due not only to the lack of duty but to the shrewd Chinese merchants selling as hard as they know how.

Light industry is booming and exports are soaring. The rickshaw boys are still running, and thanks to British training and indoctrination, water, sanitation, traffic handling, etc. are all top-flight. When you travel, save your money for Hong Kong.

I went off to Bangkok in a new Bristol Britannia, a wonderful plane in the air but suffering some teething pains on the ground thanks to shortage of replacement parts and skilled technicians.

Thailand is usually wet, and having caught part of the typhoon I previously mentioned, it was really dripping and hot, but this seems good for the rice and Thailand is the granary of the east.

Being in the heart of the Far East I had thought that by now I would have escaped from the orbit of Elvis Presley, but this unfortunately was not true because he, rock'n roll, vista vision, etc. were all very much present just as they had been in every city that I had seen thus far. Thailand is a rarity. It is an independent kingdom and it always has been. However, less than two weeks before my visit there had been a bloodless coup d'etat in which the prime ministers were changed. No one, however, would have ever known this without reading about it.

The day was spent here sightseeing in the rain and a most pleasant day it was because of the charm of the people and the unusual atmosphere. One sight never to be forgotten is a canal trip of some three hours in a power boat. This canal is actually a main street of the city just as it would be in Venice and was jammed with houses side by side and the houses were jammed with people.

The canal is used as a sole means of transportation in this area. It also serves as a bathtub, a laundry, a sewerage disposal, garbage can, and is used, of course, for drinking and cooking water. It must be seen to be believed, but apparently has no harmful effect on the population.

The following day I flew back east to Cambodia to see the famous ruins of Angkor Wat. Knowledge of Angkor Wat is scarce and its history vague, but presumably some thousand years ago there was a city of more than 1,000,000 population here and they raised some of the most enormous and fascinating temples in the world.

This is a most amazing spot, especially when it is considered that one temple alone is more than three miles in circumference.

The town of Viet Riem, the nearby village, boasts of a not so grand "Grand Hotel" and still lingers in my memory as the most expensive spot in the world. A bottle of water costs $2.00, an inedible lunch was $4.50 and a Scotch and soda, not too large, $4.00.

All of this coupled with a 100-degree humidity and a drizzling rain and 100-degree heat, plus a converted C-47 that literally showered us all the way back to Bangkok, completed a memorable day, unpleasant in some respects but one that I will never forget.

Delhi was next with a brief stop in Calcutta. I trust it will not be too offensive to say that India is one of the most unfortunate countries in the world--too many people, too few worldly assets and all of it hobbled by a socialistic government of fumbling ineptitude.

It is a country of contrasts. First, the overwhelming masses of people, mainly underfed and frequently living in filth and ignorance, and second, the most exquisitely beautiful single thing I have ever seen in my life, namely, the Taj Mahal, the tomb at Agra built by the then Shah of India in 1632 for his Wife, Mumta Mahal.

This building of pure white marble inset with colored semi-precious stones is the most perfect example of Mogul architecture in the world and is virtually indescribable with the words at my command.

One brief comment--among the insets mentioned are literally thousands of roses, pale at the outside edge, darker in the centre. Each is made by hand cutting some 64 pieces of colored stone and placing them to get the color gradations. The eye can see no seam, and running a fingernail over the rose reveals no cracks. Actually, each is so perfect that a magnifying glass is required to see the seams. Such workmanship seemingly has vanished in the three centuries that have passed.

This building appears delicate, almost dainty thanks to its design, but actually it is huge--186 feet square and 210 feet high.

One pathetic note--on the day of his death the king was placed on a verandah of the castle a mile away so that with his last glimpse of earthly things he could see the tomb of his beloved queen. He, too, is now buried there by her side.

From Delhi to Karachi after fighting through a maze of Indian paper work and petty restrictions due to the fact that the Hindus are now governing themselves for the first time in centuries, they have really gone overboard on currency controls which are probably necessary, but to this day I can't quite understand what the Indian government will do with that precious piece of information which they required me to furnish, namely, the birthplace of Mrs. Williams' mother.

My stay in Karachi was as short as possible. I arrived and took one quick look and got out on the first available plane, luckily only some ten hours later. During this period I learned, among other things, that Moslem weddings are as noisy as our own even though they have no greater stimulant than the ubiquitous Coca-Cola. Personally, I can guarantee to you that Dutch beer is an excellent antidote for the Karachi weather.

One point is that Pakistan illustrates to the Nth degree the results of a pathological sense of nationalism, an overweening religious drive and a violent case of emotionalism. Here are two bits of country, desert and the Capitol to the west, with the food supply and the majority of the population to the east, the two halves being separated by about 1,000 miles of hostile Indians.

Then, off to Istanbul in Turkey, the land of the mosque and minarets and the staunchest ally of the West in the Middle East. Turkey also has followed the inflationary course of the rest of the world which I mentioned earlier and has tried to industrialize far too rapidly and at the same time support a crack army of 500,000 men.

The net result is that this primarily agricultural economy is in trouble since all manufactured goods and equipment plus all military hardware must be imported. For example, the beautiful new Istanbul Hilton Hotel is as good as any in the world and its site overlooking the Bosphorus is superb but you can't buy a cup of coffee either here or elsewhere in Turkey, and syrupy Turkish coffee was almost their national drink.

Magnificent new vistas are being opened in the old city of Istanbul by driving a four-lane highway right through the crowded area with bulldozers huffing and puffing as they tear down century-old dwellings, but such normal things as photographic film are unavailable.

Nevertheless, there is no panic and almost no criticism from the populace even about the lack of their well beloved coffee.

The main subject of conversation, aside from Russia, is, of course, Cyprus just as in Athens.

A short hop to Athens for beautiful, sunny weather reminiscent of Capetown, South Africa. The drive in from the airport is one of the most impressive I have seen, four Lanes wide, running along the sea and lined with magnificent homes, all seemingly painted and repaired just yesterday. In Greece the shortages I have mentioned previously are non-existent. You can buy anything since there are virtually no import restrictions of any kind.

As one whose chief contact with the Greek people was the restaurant owners in North America, I was delighted to find as many keenly intelligent, cultivated, hard working peoples per block as you will find anywhere in the world. The Greeks feel good about the future and they act the part with real enthusiasm.

Then, off to Rome, the city of gastronomic pleasure--a city which all of you know or plan to know.

It is no secret that the Italians love life and in so doing their pleasure rubs off on the visitor so that he too gets in the swing of their enjoyment.

From Rome to Lisbon via Nice and Barcelona takes about as long as it does to get comfortably settled and have a leisurely dinner.

Portugal has been ruled for more than two decades by Salazar, the so-called "benevolent" dictator. This was my first visit here and I found the country fascinating--good hotels by any standards, more scenery per square mile than any place I have yet seen.

A final note--we taxied out to the end of the runway at 6 p.m. to take off, but the #3 engine was acting up so back we went for 14 hours, to leave the next morning and fly non-stop to Montreal. A quick change of planes and soon to Toronto and never did Toronto and home look so good, following some 37,000 miles of travel in 41 days.

A concluding soliloquy--I came back just following the stock market decline and here were people living better than kings of a couple of generations ago crying and wringing their hands over the loss of what were in the main paper profits. To these and to all others may I suggest that they too go around the world and return and then count the many blessings available to them as a result of living in this great country, Canada.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. Sydney Hermant.

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Around the World in 34 Days

Three points the speaker wishes to make before detailing his recent travels. Briefly, they are that he will not simply state encyclopedia-like facts; that in almost 37,000 miles of travel he saw nothing of the "anti-American" attitude; and third, that throughout the world there is a definite drive toward nationalism expressing itself in almost all of the under-developed countries attempting to get on an industrial basis as rapidly as possible, and what that has meant for them. In the description of his travels, many subjects are discussed, including the following. Tokyo, Japan, the Japanese, democracy in Japan, trade with Japan, including some figures. Hong Kong and its booming business and industry. Thailand's seeming isolation. Cambodia's famous ruins of Angkor Wat. India as a country of contrasts. Pakistan's nationalism. Turkey's inflationary course of trying to industrialize far too rapidly. Greek prosperity. The blessings of Canada.