150. National Intelligence Estimate0

NIE 41–60


The Problem

To analyze recent tends and to estimate probable developments in Japan over the next five years, with particular emphasis on Japan’s international orientation.

[Page 287]


Japan’s critical dependence upon the US for defense and on the non-Communist world for trade will continue to be a powerful deterrent to any significant shift in Japanese foreign policy. Assuming ratification of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security–which we believe to be likely–and no major economic reverses, Japan’s foreign policy will probably remain essentially unchanged over the next two or three years. (Paras. 12, 16–17)
Under the revised security treaty, the US will probably be able to maintain a substantial military position in Japan. Despite continued left-wing opposition to US forces and bases in Japan, and the dependence of these bases upon Japanese labor for effective operations, we believe that the US will be able to use them for logistical support of security actions in the Far East. The Japanese Government probably would not agree to the launching of combat operations from the bases unless it were convinced that the hostilities involved a critical threat to Japan’s security. (Paras. 37–38)
It is highly unlikely that Japan will consent to the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan during the period of this estimate. Except in an extreme emergency such as a direct threat of attack on Japan itself or, possibly, as a last resort to keep South Korea from falling before a Communist invasion, it is virtually certain that Japan would not agree to permit the launching of nuclear strikes from bases in Japan. (Para. 39)
A key factor in Japan’s international orientation is the state of the economy. The economic outlook for Japan is good, assuming continued high levels of foreign trade, particularly with the US. A prolonged economic recession would probably create strong pressures within Japan for expanded relations with the Bloc, particularly Communist China. (Paras. 13, 28–30)
Under any government an important Japanese foreign policy objective will be the improvement and, eventually, the normalization of relations with Communist China. Japan will probably make no significant overtures in that direction so long as Communist China continues its hostility toward the Kishi government or insists upon the loosening of US-Japanese ties and the acceptance of Peiping’s claim to Taiwan as the price for improved relations. However, if Peiping were to reduce its demands and adopt a conciliatory approach, Japan would probably agree to Chinese Communist offers to expand trade and other relations. If Communist China were admitted to the UN, or if other major nations were to recognize Peiping, Japan would probably feel a strong compulsion to recognize Peiping, although it would probably seek US acquiescence. (Para. 18)
There is widespread, but at present quiescent, neutralist sentiment in Japan. This sentiment could increase rapidly if the Japanese came to believe that US deterrent power could not prevent Communist aggression. Soviet rocket and space achievements have already raised some doubts on this score where none existed two years ago. (Para. 20)

[Here follow the Discussion portion of the estimate, Annex, and five charts on Japan’s economy. See Supplement.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INRNIE Files. Secret. A note on the cover sheet indicates that the CIA and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force and the Joint Staff participated in the preparation of this estimate. All members of the USIB concurred with this estimate on February 9 except representatives of the AEC and FBI and the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, who abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.