Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 655
Memorandum of Discussion at the 151st Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, June 25, 19531

top secret
eyes only


The following were present at the 151st meeting of the Council: The President of the United States, Presiding; the Vice President of the United States; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; the Director for Mutual Security; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Director, Bureau of the Budget; Admiral Fechteler for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; Lewis L. Strauss, Special Assistant to the President; C.D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President; the Military Liaison Officer; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the main points taken.

. . . . . . .

4. United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Japan (NSC 125/5;2 NSC 125/2;3 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated April 27, 19534)

Mr. Cutler briefed the Council on the background of the present paper, and then discussed the problem of criminal jurisdiction over our forces in Japan, which was complicated by the fact that the Congress had not yet acted on the NATO status of forces proposal which, if accepted, would apply also in Japan.

The President predicted that the NATO status of forces proposal would have a tough time in the Congress. It was impossible to surmise why the inhabitants of Capitol Hill thought they knew more about how to handle such problems than the military men on the scene.

Apropos of the relation between the objective of achieving higher goals for the Japanese armed forces and at the same time strengthening the Japanese economy, the President observed that we must be careful not to urge too high standards of military readiness on [Page 1439] the various nations we were trying to rearm. If we believed that the Japanese should go from 4 to 10 divisions, the President stated that we would have to help them.

There then ensued a discussion of the Financial Appendix on page 7 of the report.5

At the conclusion of this discussion, Secretary Dulles said that he doubted if the present report accurately reflected the desperate state of the Japanese and, more particularly, the impact on their economy of an end of hostilities in Korea and a consequent lessening of our procurement in Japan for war purposes. He pointed out that recently the Japanese had dipped heavily into their dollar reserves, and he did not see how it would long be possible for the Japanese to go on with their terrible trade deficit.

Mr. Cutler pointed out that the report urged an increase of Japanese trade with Southeast Asia as offering possibilities.

Mr. Stassen said that there was at least one favorable development in this grim picture—the Japanese had at last succeeded in getting back into the sterling area, from which they had been so long excluded.

The President inquired why Japan expressed its deficit in terms of dollars. Can’t they trade with non-dollar countries? We ought, thought the President, to encourage trade, for example, between the Philippines and Japan. The President pointed out, and Mr. Stassen confirmed, that the big Japanese dollar deficit arose from the purchase in the United States of coal, iron ore, and rice. Perhaps it would be possible to purchase Australian coal instead, and in any case, new avenues of non-dollar trade must certainly be opened to the Japanese.

While there was general agreement with these views, the Secretary of State pointed out that continued hostility toward Japan in the Southeast Asian areas she had overrun during the last war, still constituted an obstacle to this kind of trade.

The President then inquired whether our Bureau of Mines had any statistics on coal resources in the Philippines. He thought that the Council should be provided with information on this point.

The National Security Council:6

Adopted the statement of policy contained in NSC 125/5 subject to the following amendments:
Page 2, subparagraph 3–a-(1): Revise the last sentence to read: “However, it is not probable that this issue can be resolved [Page 1440] until favorable Senate action is taken on the NATO agreements.”
Page 3, subparagraph 3–b-(1): Revise the last sentence to read: “Nevertheless the United States should continue to encourage the Japanese to develop defense forces consistent with the economic capability of Japan.”
Noted the progress report contained in NSC 125/5.

Note: The statement of policy contained in NSC 125/5, as amended, subsequently approved by the President and circulated as NSC 125/6.

5. The Japanese Treaty Islands (Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated June 15, 1953;7 NSC 125/5, para. 4)

Mr. Cutler briefed the Council on the background of the report and the long-term disagreement between the Departments of State and Defense with respect to the treaty islands. He then called attention to the recommendations on page 10 of the report,8 including the difference between State and Defense with respect to the return of the Amami group to Japan. Mr. Cutler then called on the Secretary of State for his views.

Secretary Dulles said that in the light of current developments in Korea he strongly questioned whether this was the moment to decide on the return of any of these islands to Japan. It would be quite satisfactory to him if the Council deferred decision until we know whether there is to be more war or more peace in Korea. If we had to withdraw from Korea it might be very undesirable to effect any change in the status of these islands.

While specific events in recent days caused him to feel as he did, Secretary Dulles went on to say that in general in past months and years he had felt that the United States should allow the maximum possible civilian control over these islands, compatible with military requirements, to revert to the Japanese. He pointed out that the Defense Department argued that nothing less than 100% U.S. control was in fact compatible with military and security requirements. Secretary Dulles emphasized that he could not understand this Defense Department position. On the contrary, it seemed to him perfectly possible to maintain the necessary U.S. bases in these treaty islands without assumption by the U.S. of civil administration in them. Such administration was costly to the United States and unpopular in Japan. He pointed out that he had drawn up the peace treaty between the United States and Japan in such [Page 1441] fashion as to permit the United States to retain all that was needed by way of authority to protect vital security interests, but that he had not believed that we needed to annex all these islands to achieve our military objectives.

Okinawa, he pointed out, was an exception to his general thinking. It was such a large military base and such an important one, that it would probably have to remain wholly under United States administration. Even so, he hoped that this administration in Okinawa could be made more civilian-minded. The administration of Okinawa still carried a heavy wartime flavor and character, with the result that 90% of the Okinawans hated the United States. The Secretary said that, under recommendation C on page 10 of the paper, it would be possible to improve this situation and to get rid of obsolete wartime directives for the civilian administration.

Secretary Dulles went on to express his firm conviction that the extraordinary legal rights which had been secured to the United States in the peace treaty with Japan, would eventually prove quite worthless unless we exercised these rights in a manner designed to secure the support and loyalty of the Japanese. This was true both in Japan and in the islands.

In conclusion, Secretary Dulles stressed his complete inability to grasp why, in order to maintain a radar and radio station for the U.S. in the Amami Islands, it was necessary to take over the entire administration of these islands. This made no sense to him.

Mr. Cutler pointed out that it cost the United States approximately $2,000,000 a year to administer this group of islands, and that the Japanese could do it readily enough with yen.

The President inquired as to the population of the Amami group. For the moment, nobody could answer his question, and Secretary Wilson then expressed the viewpoint of the Department of Defense as against the views just expressed by the Secretary of State.

The point, said Secretary Wilson, was that our military felt that their position in the islands was a good deal more secure than our position in Japan proper. Our military people thought that Okinawa and our other bases were extremely important to us, quite independently of our base rights in Japan. If, however, we could be sure that the Japanese would “stay with us” over the long term, he would be glad to give up the administration of the islands. He furthermore expressed agreement with the Secretary of State’s position that it was not necessary to rule over all the people of the Amami Islands in order to maintain a United States radio and radar station.

The President then said that we must get down to the business of our objectives in these areas. We could start, he said, with our conviction that the retention of Japan and of its potential strength [Page 1442] was of vital importance to our own security interests. Accordingly, to insist on controlling this little group of islands, which obviously meant a lot to Japan, amounted to risking the loss of our main objective, which was to assure ourselves of Japan’s friendship and loyalty over the long run. This seemed to him, said the President, silly, and he felt the Army was taking a little too narrow view if its opposition to the return of these islands was only to secure a radar station.

The President went on to expand his comments on his experience in the occupation business. He pointed out that in almost every case the peoples of the occupied areas had come to hate our soldiers, for one thing because they were comparatively rich. But the President said that with regard to our “fortress positions”, or main bases, such as Wake, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, that was a different story.

Secretary Wilson warned that Okinawa was becoming a very real problem for the United States. Unlike the other islands, it had a very large population and the Japanese considered it very important for themselves, and were plainly determined to do everything they could to get it back. Secretary Wilson said, however, that he was prepared to agree to the return of the Amamis.

Secretary Dulles replied that this was not the moment to return the Amamis. This return should be timed to extract the utmost advantage from it. As for Okinawa, he felt it was not in accordance with our best security interests to share authority there with the Japanese. He also pointed out that, strictly speaking, we would not be obliged to get out of the Amamis; we could make provision to go back if it proved necessary.

Secretary Wilson then commented that it might be possible to permit the Japanese to take over the administration in Okinawa if conditions ever permitted it.

At this point Colonel Carroll, who had left the room to ascertain the answer to the President’s question on the population of the Amamis, returned and reported that they had 219,000 inhabitants.

The President then stated emphatically that to him it was a “must” to return these islands to Japan.

Admiral Fechteler noted the relationship between this problem and the statement of Yoshida at the signing of the Japanese peace treaty.9

[Page 1443]

The President replied that he understood the issue of the timing of the return to Japan of these islands in accordance with the Yoshida statement, but that we must not overlook the question as to where our true interests lie. Maybe, said the President, the time is actually approaching for the return of some, at least, of these islands.

Mr. Cutler then suggested that the Council might agree to accept the State Department position favoring return of the Amami group as set forth in the report, but to leave the implementation of this matter of policy to a future joint decision of Secretaries Dulles and Wilson.

The President, however, reverted to Yoshida’s statement, and pointed out that it brought up the whole principle of reversion to Japanese sovereignty. That was impossible to carry out at present, but he could see no objections to turning over the small Amami group. He was concerned, however, by the Army’s contention that if we did that Okinawa would be the next to go.

Secretary Wilson expressed the thought that the members of the Council would be much surprised if they knew how large a number of American officials were “fooling around” in these islands. (Laughter)

Mr. Stassen and Secretary Dulles pointed out to the Council that the return of these islands should be calculated and timed in ways that would tend to hasten the process of Japanese rearmament.

Apropos of Mr. Cutler’s suggested Council action, the President said that the question of implementing the proposed policy of returning the Amami group should not be decided solely by State and Defense, but should be brought before the Council in not more than 90 days. He also emphasized the importance of relating the return of these islands to the development of Japan’s military strength.

Mr. Dodge then pointed out to the Council that recommendation C of the report had budgetary implications of considerable importance, and the Council discussed these for some little time.

Among the various costly aspects of our administration in these islands, said Secretary Wilson, we were actually involved in setting up a college, not to mention the very peculiar form of local government in Okinawa. We had set up a local assembly there whose principal activity to date had been debating as to when the Americans should be thrown out.

The President said it was a matter of considerable distress to him that in many of the colleges established by the United States in foreign countries, there were so many Communist students.

[Page 1444]

Concurring, Secretary Dulles pointed out that at the college in Beirut he and Mr. Stassen had been warned to avoid a visit, because of fear of demonstrations.

Mr. Allen Dulles, however, expressed the belief that such demonstrations primarily reflected nationalist rather than Communist sentiment.

After the Vice President had expressed his concern over the President’s point concerning the hostility which occupation forces seemed to incur wherever they were sent, Secretary Humphrey suggested that it would be most helpful if the military could restudy our objectives in these islands with a view to determining how rapidly the military could disengage themselves from civilian activity without harming our military position. Withdrawal, thought Secretary Humphrey, was the one sure way to lower the high costs of our administration.

While there was much support for Secretary Humphrey’s suggestion, Mr. Stassen warned that there was still need for U.S. controls in these islands, and that there was much to be said for the Defense Department position in this dispute.

The President, however, re-emphasized his original contention of the inevitable hostility which occupation status involved us in, and pointed out that our own people would feel very much the same way if any foreign forces were long stationed on our soil.

The National Security Council:10

Adopted the recommendation of the Department of State, contained in paragraph 18–a-(2) of the reference memorandum, to relinquish civil administration over the Amami group to Japan as a matter of policy; subject to the understanding that, in view of the current situation in the Far East, implementation of this policy and any public announcement as proposed in paragraph 18–b will be deferred pending review of the situation by the National Security Council on the recommendation of the Secretaries of State and Defense within 90 days.
Agreed that the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Department of State, the Bureau of the Budget, and other interested agencies, should recommend for Council consideration a policy on the civil administration of those Ryukyu Islands remaining under U.S. jurisdiction, which would reduce U.S. responsibility for such civil administration as rapidly as compatible with U.S. military requirements.

Note: The action in a above subsequently transmitted to the Secretaries of State and Defense for report to the Council within 90 [Page 1445] days. The action in b above subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense for implementation.

. . . . . . .

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Drafted by Gleason on June 26.
  2. See Document 646.
  3. Document 588.
  4. Not printed. (S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 125 Series)
  5. See the enclosure, supra.
  6. The lettered subparagraphs constitute NSC Action No. 823. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “Record of Actions of the National Security Council, 1953”)
  7. Document 651.
  8. Numbered paragraph 18.
  9. Apparently a reference to the following sentence from Yoshida’s remarks to the Conference, Sept. 7, 1951: “I cannot but hope that the administration of these islands will be put back into Japanese hands in the not distant future with the reestablishment of world security—especially the security of Asia.” (Department of State, Japanese Peace Conference: Proceedings, p. 277)
  10. The lettered subparagraphs constitute NSC Action No. 824. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “Record of Actions of the National Security Council, 1953”)