333. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Korea-Japan Negotiations
[Page 747]


  • Ambassador Kim Chong-yul, Embassy of Korea
  • Counselor Pak Kun, Embassy of Korea
  • The Secretary
  • Leonard L. Bacon, Acting Director, East Asian Affairs

Ambassador Kim, who had called at his own request, opened by saying that Foreign Minister Chung Il-kwon had asked him to make a statement which he hoped the Secretary would draw on as he saw fit in any discussions he might have with the Japanese in the course of the Economic Conference to be held in Japan the following week.2

(Here Ambassador Kim read the statement, as follows:

  • “1. It is the consistent policy of the Korean Government to seek an early normalization of the relations between Korea and Japan with a view to establishing good neighbourly relations and strengthening the solidarity among free nations. It is, however, to be noted that the Korea-Japan Talks has become a domestic political issue because of the past relations of the two countries and the critical attitude of some opposition parties. It is, therefore, hoped that a full consideration be given to these facts, and accordingly a broader approach be made by Japan in the Talks.
  • “2. Following is the basic position of the Korean Government on the fishery question which is the main pending issue: a) the fishery resources in the waters in question be conserved; b) interests of the Korean fishing population be safeguarded, and the Korean fishing industry be protected from any adverse effects of Japanese fishing activities.
  • “3. One of the major obstacles to the settlement of this question is the great imbalance of fishing capabilities between the two countries. Therefore, a sufficient amount of fishery cooperation fund should be secured for the development of Korean fishing industry. Accordingly, it is considered that the practical means of settling the fishery question are for Japan to agree to regulatory measures limiting Japanese fishing activities within the Peace Line3 to the present level and to render a full fishery cooperation. If Japan intends to increase fishing activities within the Peace Line through the conclusion of a fishery agreement [Page 748] or insists on any regulatory measures under which such an increase is anticipated, the settlement of the question will become difficult.
  • “4. There are expressed apprehensions among the Korean people that, when the Korea-Japan relations are normalized, the role of the United States of America in supporting Korea would be shifted to Japan. Therefore, a reassurance by the United States of continuous support to Korea is necessary.”)

The Secretary asked whether the reference to “domestic political issue” in the first paragraph of the text referred to domestic problems in Korea, Japan, or both. Ambassador Kim said that both countries were intended. In Korea it was the Government several years ago which had held back in the negotiations for a settlement while the Opposition Party and the Korean people favored coming to a conclusion. The situation was now reversed. In Japan the public was likewise not fully in agreement on a settlement.

Referring to the second and third paragraphs relating to the fisheries question, the Secretary asked how much fishing was done by the Japanese within the “Peace Line”. The Ambassador replied that, according to Japanese figures, roughly 120 thousand tons are taken annually by Japanese vessels within the area enclosed by the Line. The Japanese have informed the Korean Delegation in Tokyo of the results of their fishing operations. The Koreans have agreed that the same amount could be caught by the Japanese in the future but warned that any increase would create a problem. The Secretary asked whether the Koreans would expect to raise their catch to the Japanese level or to limit their catch to the present volume for conservation reasons. Ambassador Kim said that the Koreans contemplated an increase in their catch but would need improved equipment which they would expect the Japanese to provide by way of compensation for Korean agreement to Japanese fishing within the Peace Line.

The Secretary thought that it would be important to determine with as much precision as possible the figures on the total catch of each country and on the maximum permissible catch. He asked whether Korean-caught fish is sold principally in Korea or in Japan and whether any third country engages in fishing within the Peace Line. Ambassador Kim said that Korean fishermen sell their catch largely in Japan. He added that the Russians did not fish within the Line although seven years ago Chinese Communists had come close to Korea and had sunk a Korean fishing boat besides capturing a Korean fisherman. The Korean armed forces had orders to sink such invaders and the Chinese Communists’ vessel was chased but because of darkness could not be found.

Ambassador Kim expressed the hope that United States assistance and support would be assured as noted in the final paragraph of the [Page 749] statement. The Secretary replied that the United States would hope that normalization of relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan would result in cooperation between the two countries which would be beneficial to both, but that the United States had no intention to discontinue its support of the Republic of Korea.

(On leaving, Ambassador Kim left with Department officers a copy of his statement “for informal reference”, not as an aide-mémoire.)

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL JAPAN–KOR S. Secret. Drafted by Bacon and approved in S on February 8. This memorandum is Part 1 of 2. The conversation took place in the Secretary’s Office.
  2. Rusk was in Tokyo January 24–28 to attend the meeting of the Joint US-Japan Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs.
  3. In 1952 former President Syngman Rhee created the Peace Line, also referred to as the Rhee Line, by expanding the boundaries of South Korea’s territorial waters, in some cases by 100 or more miles, into the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea in an attempt to protect Korean fishing interests. (DIA Intelligence Summary, March 25; Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Japan-Korea, December 1963–March 1966)