167. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Parsons) to Secretary of State Herter0


  • United States Policy toward Japan (NSC 6008)

The National Security Council will consider United States policy toward Japan (NSC 6008)1 on May 31 at 2:30 p.m.

The new policy paper extensively up-dates the existing policy paper NSC 5516/1 of April, 1955,2 but does not recommend any basic departures from current United States policy toward Japan. The paper anticipates that Japan will have in the coming years a growing impact on the balance of power in Asia and play an increasingly influential role in international developments. The paper emphasizes that the key to assuring that Japan will exercise its growing international role in concert with Free World interests lies in the satisfaction of its need for expanding trade and, consequently, access to a free and reasonable share of United States and other Free World markets. Because of Japan’s heavy dependence on the United States, militarily and economically, United States policy can have a critical impact on Japan’s international orientation.

There are four policy splits in the paper, as follows:

Paragraph 44: There is a basic difference with JCS and Defense on Japan’s participation in regional security efforts. Defense and JCS recommend efforts to induce Japanese military activity outside the Japan area. We do not consider that, under its present political conditions, Japan will be prepared for some years to undertake such military activities, [Page 313] although we recognize that such an objective is ultimately desirable. It is recommended that you support the majority position, which directs that the United States only respond positively to, but not stimulate, initiatives in this direction by Japan since any effort to induce a regional security role by Japan is likely to be both counter-productive and ineffective. In the unlikely event Japan does take an initiative to participate more actively in the military defense of the Free World, we anticipate requests for military assistance above the levels set forth in the financial appendix.
Paragraph 45: This paragraph deals with the level of military assistance in the forthcoming years. The Treasury–Budget–Commerce position calls for an early elimination of new commitments for grant aid. The State–Defense–OCDM position states that this objective may not be feasible in the next few years, but leaves the way open for a final determination in the NSC 21583 framework. We consider that efforts to commence at an early date reduction and elimination of grant military aid to Japan would inhibit present progress toward the modernization of the Japanese forces and would have unfavorable political repercussions on our relations with Japan. It is therefore recommended that you support the State–Defense–OCDM position. If this position is not accepted by the Council, we would prefer leaving the question open until an NSC 2158 determination is made, rather than accept the Treasury–Budget–Commerce position.
Paragraph 51: This paragraph deals with the duration of our control over the Article III islands, primarily the Ryukyus. The Majority position directs that the United States continue to control these islands only as long as they are essential to our security interests, leaving the way open for their return to Japan when they are no longer required from a security viewpoint. The Defense–JCS position makes no provision for their return to Japan, assuming that the islands will necessarily be required from a security viewpoint as long as tensions remain in the Far East. Defense’s objective is to foreclose indefinitely any return of the islands to Japan. We consider such policy guidance undesirable since our security interests are the only reasonable justification for continuing control over these territories in the face of anticipated growing pressures for reversion in both Japan and the Ryukyus. It is recommended that you support the majority position.
Paragraph 52: This paragraph deals with the treatment of Japanese requests for closer relations with the Ryukyus. The State position is to accede to these requests when reasonable and consistent with our security interests, while Defense and JCS would consider such requests sympathetically. While the language in the two positions is very close, there is a basic difference of viewpoint between State and Defense on this question. In practice, Defense has only reluctantly agreed to Japanese requests for closer relations with the Ryukyus. For example, this year they have refused to continue a program of sending a few Japanese teacher-consultants to the Ryukyus although such assistance is needed and is desired by the Ryukyuans. We feel that failure to permit the Japanese to assist the Ryukyus in this very limited manner, which will not affect our security interests, will only lead to increased reversionist pressures and serious strains in United States-Japanese relations. It is recommended that you support the State position.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 6008 Series. Secret. Drafted by Sneider and cleared in substance with E, U/MSC, and IO/UNP.
  2. See Document 166.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXIII, Part 1, pp. 5262.
  4. NSC Action No. 2158, taken at the 427th meeting of the NSC, December 3, 1959, noted the directive by the President that the Secretaries of State and Defense ensure that new commitments for military equipment on a grant basis should not be offered to nations that are financially able to pay for such equipment. A footnote cites that “financially able to pay” is determined on “the basis of economic criteria without regard to political ability or willingness.” (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)