177. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State0

4143. Eyes only for Secretary. Department telegram 2951.1 I met with Kishi this morning in two-hour session and put to him very strongly and frankly considerations in reftel. Kishi said he would reply with equal frankness for he wanted President and you clearly to know considerations in his mind at this time and his own estimate of local situation. Kishi said police had missed badly on Hagerty’s arrival. They had estimated that this type of violence would not take place, and this estimate had been confirmed by their counter-intelligence not inside extremist organizations. It was clear police had made bad mistake.

As to significance of President’s visit to Japan he held exactly same views I expressed to him on basis your 2951. If President’s visit could be [Page 351] carried out fully and without any bad incidents, it would be clear victory over organized left and would greatly strengthen US-Japan ties. But if there were some untoward incident, effect of visit might be exactly opposite. He fully understood this consideration and agreed with it completely.

Kishi said that most important factor in judging visit was personal safety of President. He had studied this element from every possible angle and said to me most emphatically, “We as the Govt of Japan have believed we can absolutely assure the personal safety of the President.” However with respect to some occasional unpleasantness or some action which might be embarrassing, or violate international courtesy, Kishi wanted us to know very frankly that he could not assure that such incidents might not occur.

Kishi said it was important to understand that police are under strict orders to avoid any direct physical clash with demonstrators unless they were forced into a clash. Their orders are to keep maximum distance and to avoid any physical encounter as long as it was humanly possible to do so. However when President arrives police would have entirely different orders. Govt had instructed them that they were then to take positive and preventive steps, even aggressive steps, and that they were to carry out these maximum security measures despite inadequacies in present police law. Police authorities were now reassessing even these plans in light of deplorable incident which had occurred to Messrs Stephens and Hagerty and every conceivable security precaution was being organized. Kishi added however that he would not be entirely frank if he did not admit that “police force at this time was not completely adequate because of the police law.” And this was why he was unable to guarantee there would be no embarrassing incident. However again he emphasized that nature of these possible incidents would not affect personal safety of President.

Kishi said that obviously much more was involved than police considerations. He thought it highly significant that in last several days an entirely new tone of welcome toward President’s visit had begun to appear in press and on part of public commentators. This change in tone and new emphasis on importance of extending appropriate hospitality to President was a factor of greatest importance in judging situation which would exist in Japan at time of visit itself. Moreover, extremely adverse criticism in Japan to airport incident affecting Stephens and Hagerty fully indicated that use of such force and violence was strongly opposed by tremendous majority of Japanese people.

On political front, Kishi said he had personally issued call to Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) and to Japan Socialist Party (JSP) to discuss a supra-party welcome to President and to divorce visit from partisan politics. DSP had agreed to meet with him but JSP had not yet accepted [Page 352] invitation. JSP was however very sensitive toward what press and commentators say about it and press opinion is now running very strongly in direction of political truce so that President can be properly welcomed here. In last few days attitude of some of JSP members in upper house had indicated many misgivings inside JSP to its present hard pro-Communist line and opposition to President’s visit. Intra-JSP situation was complicated and one or two more days would be needed before JSP itself could decide on whether it would cooperate in appropriate welcome to President.

As to hard core opposition, Kishi said Japan Communist Party and Zengakuren would not in any event cooperate in visit and would continue to carry out whatever orders Moscow and Peking gave them. However if JSP in end joined with LDP and DSP in supra-party welcome it would alleviate situation greatly and decision of JSP to join in welcome would mean that Sohyo and its affiliated labor unions would also cooperate since JSP would not make this decision unless Sohyo had authorized it. He was not optimistic about JSP making decision and thought there was eighty percent chance it would decline to meet with LDP and DSP.

Kishi concluded that it would be two or three days before he could make final considered judgment re postponement since it would take this much time to know specifically exact and full additional security plans worked out by police, and attitude of Socialists. He added that if he came to conclusion he must ask for visit to be postponed, it would be vitally important to him to have clear idea about how long postponement would have to be and when President could make later visit to Japan. He asked most urgently that I attempt to get this information.

In summary Kishi said:

He is reconsidering and reassessing visit in light of (i) developments since airport incident last Friday, (ii) domestic political situation and possibility of three-party cooperation in welcoming President, and (iii) review being made of all security aspects of visit by Japanese security authorities;
He will need approximately two or three days before he can reach his final conclusions;
If in his judgment there is risk to personal safety of President or risk of serious incidents (not just display of placards or minor scuffles which would in any event be inevitable) which would present to world picture of Japan in turmoil, he will wish to ask that visit be postponed. We agreed that if he comes to this conclusion at any time before visit [Page 353] itself, he will also ask for it to be postponed rather than to let it go through with all consequent harm to our relations;
If it is necessary for him to conclude that some postponement is desirable, it will be vitally important in terms of his ability to handle situation and assure entry into effect of treaty, to be able to announce when President’s visit will occur in future;
He fully understands that in final analysis President must himself make decision on visit. But he greatly appreciates that President has asked for and will fully consider his recommendations;
He will be in touch with me again as soon as he can. In President’s and your consideration of foregoing, I should like to emphasize threat [three] points:
Public posture here is that visit is going forward and that schedule revised by Stephens and Hagerty is now being considered by President. It is vitally important to preserve this posture.
In view of time factor and possibility that even at last moment some change may have to be made, you may wish on top secret basis actively to begin to draw up alternative schedule for visit to Seoul. It is essential that no word of this leaks out. It occurs to us that simplest contingency plan might be to advance date of Seoul visit and fly directly there from Taipei, eliminating stop at Okinawa. This would permit approximately same arrival hour and perhaps fewest alterations to rest of resident’s schedule. Furthermore, I have real reservations about visiting Okinawa on this trip if visit to Japan is postponed.
As I said to you over telephone, I feet we must give Kishi two or three days to reassess political and security situation before we can reach any conclusions ourselves, and if there is postponement to indicate that President will at least visit Japan even if exact date cannot immediately be announced.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.94/6–1260. Top Secret; Niact. A memorandum by Leonhart of the conversation described in this telegram is ibid., FE Files: Lot 62 D 26, MC–Japan. See Supplement.
  2. Document 174.