493.949/4–154: Telegram

No. 753
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Japan 1


2229. Excon. Your 24102 and 2378.3 Embassy requested inform Japanese that US prepared cancel bilateral on basis assurances providing gradual reduction and designed prevent serious harmful effect Geneva Conference. Specific assurances would cover following:

Japan would agree relax controls at rate no faster than 30 items per week against list 383 items representing extent Japanese study indicates controls presently above multilateral level. Initial releases to be taken from list 127 mentioned your 2410. However release any US IA, IIB or IC items would be withheld until after May 1 permit time review here whether covered whole or part by existing multilateral embargo. Re such items US would reserve right request clarification CHINCOM where difference view found re existing multilateral coverage and might also wish propose for adoption CHINCOM few additional items which clearly related existing embargo.
Japan would agree limit public announcements to routine statements preferably by MITI officials at time removal of items to general effect that Japanese Government is engaged intensive reexamination items on which Japanese controls are higher than multilateral level and intends release from control at accelerated rate those items which Japanese do not consider to be of strategic importance.

Purpose US proposal is (a) enable Japan meet political pressures for reduction controls to multilateral level by accelerating rate of decontrol but (b) avoid any sudden removal large bloc of items from control which would imply that substantial relaxation China controls underway. While necessary for Japanese Government indicate that another step has been taken in direction bringing Japanese controls into conformity with multilateral controls, highly desirable no attempt be made by Japanese Government dramatize accelerated removal of items from embargo as new policy or as indication Japan no longer recognizes need for multilateral cooperation in maintenance controls on China trade. Our hope is that Japanese handling of decontrol would so closely resemble disciplined decontrol procedure followed in past six months that could not be regarded by Chinese Communists as evidence inability countries of free world continue maintain high level controls on strategic trade with China.

Department defers to Embassy judgment that it is unwise to condition proposal for cancellation bilateral upon Japanese undertakings support US other trade control matters. But US proposals will demonstrate willingness US to cooperate with Japan on realignment Japanese controls and will enable Japanese ease political pressures for reduction Japanese controls to multilateral level. Consequently Embassy requested coincident with presentation US proposal on bilateral to seek Japanese cooperation in (1) withholding request to CHINCOM for exception on GI sheets and automotive parts and (2) supporting maintenance CHINCOM controls during Geneva conference.

Embassy should caution Japanese that in event Far East situation deteriorates US will depend on Japan and other free world countries cooperate imposition tighter controls on trade with Communist China.4

  1. Drafted in EDS and NA and cleared in CA, FE, the Foreign Operations Administration, the Departments of Defense and Commerce, and, in substance by the Department of the Treasury. Repeated for information to London and to Paris marked Topol; airpouched to Hong Kong.
  2. Dated Apr. 3; in this telegram the Embassy reported in part that it had received from the Japanese Government a note accompanied by a list of 383 items which Japan embargoed from its China trade, but which were not on the China Committee embargo list. “Of these, Japanese Government proposes 127 items be removed from bilateral understanding.… Note expresses appreciation of previous lifting ban on over 100 items, but observes proposed step can be taken without jeopardizing objectives security export controls.” (493.949/4–354)
  3. Document 751.
  4. Documents in file 493.949 for 1954 indicate that gradual release of items from Japan’s separate China trade embargo list continued through spring and summer 1954.