64. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State 1

1435. Joint FEC–Embassy message. Reference Embtel 1411.2

General Lemnitzer and I have discussed the implications of Japanese defense budget proposal for JFY 56 made by Foreign Minister Shigemitsu on 20 December.
I pointed out that the following factors are readily apparent from recent developments:
Only Kono’s intervention in defense budget question is responsible for preventing both delay in making proposal to US and proposal below 140 billion yen. Kono overrode strong elements within Liberal-Democratic combine indifferent to progress in defense effort and to maintenance of cordial relations with US.
Confidence in US has been shaken as result of resolution UN membership issue.3 Since last Thursday, Embassy officers have been repeatedly hit by charge of US failure to insure UN membership for Japan on part of well-informed Japanese concerned with maintenance of our partnership.
While the key leadership of Japan, Kono, Kishi, etc., is fully cognizant of essentiality of major defense force to resurgence of Japanese influence in Asia, it does not feel that current international situation necessitates any alteration of their timetable. In their view, which they have held to consistently over the past few years, consolidation of political power for the conservatives must precede a major defense build-up. The current defense effort, therefore, is to them only the framework upon which they hope to build future Japanese military power.
Should the US attempt to pressure the Japanese leadership to undertake a defense effort more ambitious that that which they consider feasible or necessary the present process of political consolidation will be shattered. We will in effect have placed in a difficult and embarrassing position—vis-à-vis the internal political enemies—the very men upon whom we depend over the long run to bring Japan to a position strong enough to counter-balance the Communist bloc. Furthermore, pressure on our part will obviously prejudice future relationships with Japan. If Japanese rearmament is not to be bought at the price of a break in the basic pattern of a US–Japan alliance, then it is doubly important to assure now against an undercurrent of antagonism and lack of confidence in US on part of some of Japan’s current prospective conservative leadership.
General Lemnitzer points out that acceptance of the Japanese position will:
Condone the failure of the Japanese Government to meet the commitment agreed to in the August 1955 exchange of notes.
Provide support for the Japanese six-year plan (considered at best to be an inadequate effort) only if large portion of yen contribution is diverted from the US to JSDF.
Subordinate essential military requirements in favor of political considerations.
Mean failure to achieve the scale of increase this year in the defense effort which we consider militarily necessary. Instead the Japanese will make only slight improvements in their defense forces, a major portion of which will be made at the expense of the US.
General Lemnitzer and I agree that in the absence of an immediate military crisis, the principal stake is not the annual increase in the defense effort but where Japan ends up in the long run. In this sense, the achievement of an agreement largely along lines required by the Japanese will have advanced over-all US interests, particularly by contributing to the consolidation of conservative power, on which development hinges our prospects for encouraging Japan to make a proper defense effort in the future.
We, therefore, recommend that,
We be authorized to propose to the Japanese the position recommended in joint FEC–Embassy message (Embtel 1411, FEC C–75020) with further authority to abandon the condition established [Page 146] in subparagraph e(2) thereof,4 i.e., Japan’s recognition of US rights re movable property, should such condition be unacceptable.
If the above proposal is unacceptable to the Japanese, to seek Japanese agreement to general formula providing in JFY 56 a Defense Agency budget of yen 103.3 billion and a total defense budget of yen 142.7 billion with the division between facilities expenses and the yen contribution to be negotiated at our discretion.
Authority to proceed along the above lines is requested at an early date in order to complete negotiations as promptly as possible.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 794.5/12–2255. Secret; Niact.
  2. Dated December 20, not printed. (Ibid., 794.5/12–2055) It is summarized in the memorandum infra.
  3. For documentation on this question, see vol. XI, pp. 268 ff.
  4. This subparagraph reads:

    “Japan recognizes the right of USFJ to use and relocate, as required by USFJ, Japanese Government and privately owned movable property subject to right of USFJ as of April 27, 1952 without cost to USFJ regardless of location in Japan, the movable property to be returned to Japanese Government control when no longer required by USFJ.”