355. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)0


  • Negotiations with Japan Regarding the Ryukyus

Mr. Gilpatric’s letter of March 22 to you (Tab A)1 presents a basic issue which will have to be resolved before we can proceed further with a negotiation with Japan over the Ryukyus.

Underlying the Defense position is a fear that Congress will not provide the funds necessary to carry out the programs recommended by the Task Force. There appears to be some basis for this fear, since we understand that Representative Passman2 has taken a very negative view of the Army’s request for even $6 million for FY 1963. This request was submitted [Page 739] before the Task Force recommendations for annual programs in the $20 million range were accepted in the Executive Branch.

If congressional resistance to increased US assistance to the Ryukyu Islands becomes a serious obstacle, it will be necessary for us to re-think the entire approach to Ryukyuan problems taken by the Task Force. Our failure in the past to provide adequate assistance to the Ryukyus has resulted in Japanese offers of assistance to make up the deficit. This in turn has produced what is in effect a US-Japanese competition for the favor of the Ryukyuan people, with the size of prospective aid programs taken as the measure of concern for Ryukyuan welfare and well-being. If the Executive Branch is unable to obtain the funds from Congress that will permit us to demonstrate that our interest in Ryukyuan welfare more than matches that of Japan, our position in the islands may well become untenable. I consider it essential that we assure ourselves of the congressional support necessary to carry out the Task Force recommendations before entering into negotiations with Japan.

The fear of failure with Congress that underlies the Defense position has also produced an unrealistic request to the Department that we try to eliminate competitive undercutting of the US position in the Ryukyus by Japan, while suggesting arrangements for Japanese assistance programs which would have precisely the undesired effect. We agree with Defense that Japanese efforts to outbid us annually for Ryukyuan favor are undesirable and should be eliminated. However, the internal pressures on any Japanese Government are such that it seems highly unlikely that we can eliminate this kind of competitive bidding (1) if Japanese aid programs are determined on an annual basis and (2) if, in Mr. Gilpatric’s words, “Japanese aid must be kept in a sound relationship to annual US aid programs.” The Defense suggestion (see paragraph 6 of the attachment to Mr. Gilpatric’s letter)3 that we obtain an over-all five-year commitment from the Japanese as to their aid program, with this commitment subject to annual renegotiation (probably downward to keep it well below the US aid figure), seems guaranteed to increase Ryukyuan dissatisfaction with our administration as well as expose as a sham our profession of a desire to cooperate with Japan.

The concept of working by five-year periods, incorporated in the draft agreement used by the Task Force in its deliberations, would largely eliminate this concern with competitive bidding, but it would require an advance five-year commitment by the US on aid programs to the Ryukyus, a commitment Defense seems reluctant to undertake. If we feel we cannot generate the necessary support in Congress and must [Page 740] therefore tailor Japanese aid levels to our own on an annual basis, I see no prospect of avoiding annual Japanese efforts to outbid us as benefactors of the Ryukyus.

There are two other aspects of Mr. Gilpatric’s letter that deserve mention. First, the philosophy underlying the letter is clearly out of phase with the spirit of the President’s statement of March 19 (Tab B).4 Language identical to that in the President’s statement acknowledging our responsibility to “minimize the stresses that will accompany the anticipated eventual restoration of the Ryukyu Islands to Japanese administration” has been deleted by Defense from the proposed draft agreement (Tab C) “to avoid creating any new basis for increased reversionism.” (See paragraph 1 of the attachment to Mr. Gilpatric’s letter.) The President’s statement reflects the belief that reversionism can best be contained by recognizing the inevitability of close ties between the Ryukyus and Japan and tailoring our policies accordingly. It appears that the Department of Defense has not yet accepted this change in US policy. Secondly, the Department of Defense suggests that specific arrangements on the agreement with Japan be worked out by Ambassador Reischauer and General Caraway on the basis of criteria agreed between the Departments of State and Defense. This position is not inconsistent with our own thinking, but overlooks the fact that the Department of State cannot delegate to an ambassador abroad responsibility for all aspects of an international agreement. The Defense position does, however, lay the basis for the type of State-Defense coordination recommended to you in our memorandum of March 9 (Tab D).5 This would involve close contacts between Ambassador Reischauer and General Caraway in the field, with disagreements between them resolved by the Department of State, after receiving Defense’s views as appropriate, in accordance with the intent of the President’s directive to the Secretary of State on the conduct of the negotiation (Tab E).6

I recommend that the following steps now be taken:7

A discussion with Defense and the White House of the prospects for congressional support, of possible means for insuring greater congressional support if this appears necessary, and of the implications for our position in the Ryukyus if such support is not forthcoming.
If the necessary assurances of congressional support are received, we should proceed with plans for a negotiation with Japan on the basis of five-year aid commitments by both parties. If not, our whole Ryukyuan policy will have to be reviewed.
Assuming a positive outcome, we should seek Defense concurrence to an initial negotiating instruction which would incorporate as far as possible the concerns expressed in Mr. Gilpatric’s letter but would thereafter leave the conduct of the negotiations firmly in the hands of the Department of State, with General Caraway playing his appropriate role in the field. A proposed instruction to Embassy Tokyo to this effect is attached at Tab F.8

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 794C.0221/4-662. Confidential. Drafted by King Swayne.
  2. This letter, not attached, reports that the primary objective in the negotiations, “from the Defense viewpoint, is to maintain the unhampered use of our forces and facilities on Okinawa” and that the proposed agreement should “provide an arrangement for defining, controlling, limiting and channeling Japanese aid activities, in return for U.S. agreement to permit increased Japanese aid.” The letter concludes that a Japanese commitment subject to annual review by the High Commissioner would be desirable. (Ibid., 794C.0221/3-2262)
  3. Otto Passman of Louisiana, member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chairman of its Foreign Aid Subcommittee.
  4. This attachment sets forth specific comments on the draft U.S.-Japan agreement on Ryukyus assistance. The draft is dated December 15 and is attached to Harriman’s memorandum as Tab C.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 352.
  6. Memorandum to Johnson from Rice, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 794C.0221/3-962)
  7. Dated March 5; this directive incorporates the first section of NSAM No. 133, Document 352.
  8. Johnson approved only the first of these options. An April 19 memorandum from Joseph A. Yager of EA to Rice states that Johnson deferred approval of the second two “pending the outcome of consideration of the question of gaining congressional support.” (Department of State, Central Files, 811.0094C/4-1962)
  9. Not printed. Kaysen eventually worked out with the Department of Defense, and Harriman accepted, the following sentence regarding potential State-Defense disagreements during the course of the negotiations with Japan: “In resolving such differences, the two Departments will be guided by the directives of the President as embodied in NSAM 133.” (Memorandum from Harriman to U. Alexis Johnson, May 29: ibid., 794C.0221/5-2962) As a preliminary to U.S.-Japan negotiations, Japanese Government “survey teams” visited Okinawa June 15-August 8.