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

353. Deptel 322.2 Embassy inclined to agree that Defense program of land acquisition as modified by Department is about best we can do under present circumstances.

We should continue to resist notion that our actions on Okinawa should reflect intention remaining there permanently. In the first place, we have given explicit public assurances that we shall be there only so long as conditions of threat and tension continue. By acting as if we were in Okinawa permanently, we do not get rid of Japanese pressure for return of administrative control but in fact increase it. I think our telegrams have made clear that Embassy expects such pressure to increase over next few years and it will be easier to handle if the target is not so precisely outlined as would be the case if our actions are manifestly taken in expectation of remaining permanently in Okinawa. Moreover, as suggested mytel 56,3 it is far from certain that on broad strategic grounds we want to be there permanently. In this connection during his recent visit here Admiral Radford told me that while he was CINCPAC he had never been consulted on build-up Okinawa. He doubted wisdom of decision make Okinawa main base [Page 201] but believed it should have been developed as staging area for Air Force with main base being somewhere in trust territory such as Saipan. I would urge again high level reconsideration of basic US objectives in Okinawa.

Embassy remains of belief that, in acquiring land, lease for 20 or 25 years would be ample for all US purposes, but if decision to adhere to lump sum principle for long tenure is unavoidable, emphatically agree with Department that fee title should not be acquired even if owners are willing to concede it. Embassy [garble] concurs Department view that easement should be for indefinite term rather than for fixed long term such as 50 or 99 years.

Embassy concurs with Department view on interest being vested in GRI as conforming to practice elsewhere, as consistent with fundamental legal theory that Okinawa is not American soil, and as making program more acceptable to Japanese.

Concur that any public statements should be made by General Lemnitzer here or in Okinawa, but think that time has passed when generalized public statement of any kind would be useful, particularly one which in effect reaffirms lump sum payment, fails to give more categoric assurances on new acquisitions than have previously been made, and fails to spell out in detail constructive features of entire land acquisition and resettlement program. Recommend instead that Defense authorize General Lemnitzer, after consulting with me, to make appropriate public statements when detailed programs have been formulated and time is judged to be right.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 794C.0221/8–1456. Secret; Priority; No Distribution Outside Department. Repeated to Naha.
  2. Supra.
  3. Dated July 10, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.56394C/7–1056)
  4. In an August 15 memorandum to Murphy, Sebald recommended to Murphy that “we should abandon the GRI point and agree that title be vested in the United States.” He suggested also several minor changes in the draft cited in footnote 3, supra. Marginalia indicate Murphy’s agreement, and also, later that day on behalf of the Department of Defense, that of Charles G. Ellington, Jr., Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary Reuben Robertson, to the draft as revised. It was decided not to advise Lemnitzer to make any public statement prior to the drafting of detailed language, which was to be done by RYCOM. (Department of State, Central Files, 794C.0221/8–1556) The provisions of the draft agreed upon on August 15 were embodied in telegram 908565 from the Department of Defense to CINCFE, August 16. (Department of Defense Files)