211. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Call on the President by the Japanese Economic Mission


  • The President
  • Mr. Sato Kiichiro (introduced by Ambassador Asakai) and members of the Japanese Economic Mission
  • Mr. Avery F. Peterson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs

The President met the Delegation in the Cabinet Room at 3:20 and spoke with them for ten or twelve minutes. He was assured by Ambassador Asakai that all present spoke English. The President was introduced to and shook hands with each member of the Delegation and inquired regarding the individual’s business connections.

The President was fully briefed and effective in his conversation. He said the Administration recognized that Japan lived by trade and that the Administration proposed an expansive policy rather than a restrictive one. He indicated, however, that domestic pressures were often against imports and that beneficiaries of foreign trade were seldom articulate; the cotton growers in North and South Carolina who did good business with Japan remained mute, while his neighbors in the textile industry were vociferous in their complaints.

The President said he had been studying the textile situation and had for two weeks in his office a chart showing imports. This (which an aide produced within a minute or two) showed that Japan by its own efforts had kept the volume relatively level at some 180-odd million yards but that others, notably Hong Kong, had been unrestrained in their exports which moved steadily up on his chart to 187 million yards. Something needed to be done to correct this inequity, according to the President.

The President said that he hoped for closer economic relationships between the United States and Japan and between the United States/Japan and Europe, adding that he hoped also that a basis for such relationships could be maintained in the other American Republics.

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When some of the visitors were identified as being in the radio-television and heavy electrical industries, the President said laughingly that in the United States these occupations were mostly the bailiwick of Republicans, nevertheless, he got along pretty well with them.

The President did not mention anything about continued import restrictions on Japan.

Mr. Sato’s brief acknowledgment expressed great appreciation on the part of the delegation for the President taking time out of what must be an exceedingly harrowing schedule to greet the Japanese mission. The President shook hands with each of the visitors, the Ambassador and a representative of the Embassy when he took his leave.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149, January-April 1961. Official Use Only. Drafted by Avery F. Peterson (FE) on April 21 and approved by S on April 4 and by the White House on April 5. The meeting was held at the White House. Attached to the source text is a May 4 note from Raymond S. Perkins (S/S-RO) to Battle (S/S) recommending the memorandum be repeated to Tokyo, London, and Hong Kong. The recommendation was approved and sent to the White House.