174. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Japan0

2951. Eyes only for Ambassador. All of us here greatly regret indignities to which you, Hagerty and Stephens were subjected, and rejoice that no one was injured. As you no doubt realize impact of Japanese Government’s failure to deal adequately with widely predicted situation is having serious impact on public opinion in this country and raises yet more serious questions for us. I should add that growing anxiety is again being expressed on Capitol Hill.

It appears to me and others in the Department that Japanese police were either unwilling or unable to handle this situation. I understand Secret Service has reported in same sense to White House. This opinion is supported by [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] report [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] which indicates that on June 8 Kashiwamura, Director General of National Police Agency, expanded [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on difficulties of handling Presidential visit under present circumstances, and said he had advised Prime Minister that visit should be postponed. Later message indicates Director General not prepared make full use of police against Japanese people in protecting President. Kishi should be so informed.

If serious incident or rioting should take place when President is in Japan, likely result would be strong revival anti-Japanese feeling in US with resultant grave adverse effects on Japanese-American relations. Ambassador Asakai (who claims not to be close enough to situation to have definite view on advisability of trip now) pointed out that if a bad incident were to occur it might destroy at one blow whole edifice of close friendship and partnership which you, Kishi and others have so patiently built up over past ten years.

I must tell you that flat failure of Japanese Government to prepare adequately and deal with Hagerty arrival yesterday has caused grave misgivings among all of us who have until now staunchly supported visit in light of basic issues which you have so clearly put forward. We realize fully basic issues are Japanese future orientation and survival of parliamentary democracy, and last thing any of us would wish to do is to deliver Japan into hands of those who would destroy all we have striven for on both fronts. However, President’s visit is only one incident although a highly important one in this struggle. We must squarely [Page 334] face possibility of grave damage which could result at home and abroad from either failing to make certain of an orderly visit or unwisely persisting in what now, on basis hard facts of yesterday seems to be a most different situation.

As President has accepted Kishi’s invitation and has reaffirmed his acceptance on basis Kishi’s considered reaffirmation of invitation, we do not wish to take initiative for postponement. We are all the more unwilling because Japanese are in best position to evaluate situation and conclude whether or not they can handle it. We trust Kishi implicitly to have best interests of Japanese-American relations in mind and we have no suspicion whatever that his personal situation enters into his calculations at present. We hope that he has received full advice and counsel of those men in Government and elsewhere who according to Kashiwamura and others feel that visit should be postponed.

Naturally President himself has no desire to enter into an internal quarrel or to find himself used as a symbol of contending forces in a nation which he is trying to assure of America’s friendship. We are sure Japanese Government has no desire to see dignity of Presidential office so used. We therefore request you to see Kishi privately at earliest possible moment and ask his evaluation of situation. You may say that if Kishi decides it should be postponed and takes initiative to this end, the President would later on try to fit a visit into a future schedule that is already crowded. He would, however, continue with visit to other countries scheduled for current trip.

In placing this question before Kishi, you will of course have in mind that even if Kishi continues to believe visit should take place as scheduled, President would have to reserve his freedom of decision if later on during progress of visit to other countries situation in Japan should so deteriorate as to make visit there obviously unwise from the standpoint of our mutual relations and public opinion in both countries. One possibility which disturbs us considerably is that even if large numbers of friendly elements decide to demonstrate their friendship for President and US, what we will have is a free for all mob scene between friendly and unfriendly elements in which latter are better organized and more combative.

You should also consider and discuss with Kishi as appropriate in what manner adverse effects of any changes in plan could be minimized and how blame could be thrown on Socialists and those others who have resorted to violence. It seems to us that while nothing could obscure success of those who by violence rendered government impotent and prevented trip, there might well be shock and revulsion on part Japanese people if blame were clearly and forcibly and publicly placed on Socialists and their Communist instigators and backers. This could be used by Kishi to carry through treaty ratification and then appeal to [Page 335] country through new elections on issue control of violence as well as Western orientation of Japan.

In connection with your reply to foregoing and particularly if Kishi still desires visit to take place on schedule, we desire your independent appraisal as to prospects that police can and will handle situation efficiently despite their utter failure yesterday. We also would like to have your view as to extent of reaction against what we would consider shocking excesses of demonstrators in seeking humiliate Hagerty, Stephens and yourself including what if any practical effect such reaction would have on the violent leftists whose appetite must have been further whetted by their current success.

The President has seen this message.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.94/6–1060. Top Secret; Niact. Drafted by Parsons; cleared by Dillon, Goodpaster, and with S/S; and approved by Herter.
  2. This telegram was followed at 8:10 p.m. by telegram 2952 to Tokyo, which transmitted the President’s comment that “the purpose of the trip is to reaffirm and strengthen the friendship which we firmly believe characterizes the relationship between our governments and our peoples. The usefulness of the trip must be weighed in this light.” (Department of State, Central Files, 794.00/6–1060) See Supplement. In telegram 4129 from Tokyo, June 10, the Embassy had transmitted a letter of apology handed to MacArthur by Fujiyama and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiina as representatives of the Japanese cabinet. (Department of State, Central Files, 794.00/6–1060) See Supplement.