337. Telegram From the Embassy in Korea to the Department of State 1

1043. Deptel 716, rptd Tokyo 2102.2

Remaining major obstacles to ROK-Japan settlement are fisheries control in restricted areas and amount of fisheries cooperation loans. On basis our discussions in Seoul and Embassy Tokyo’s reports (Tokyo’s 2390 and 2400 to Dept)3 both problems appear negotiable although important differences still separate two sides. On question of fisheries cooperation loans we believe a Japanese offer of 60–70 million dollars over given period (perhaps 4–5 years) would meet ROK needs.
Fisheries control issue is much more complicated. ROKG willing to accept de facto 12 mile limit but insists that Japanese fishing effort in key areas [garble] Peace Line and 12 mile limit be kept at or only moderately above current limits for a few years during which (with help GOJ fisheries loans) ROK fleet could be expanded and modernized. Absence of agreed historical catch data and of agreed standards for limiting Japanese fishing effort by number and types of vessels and duration of their operations are obstructing settlement. Also ROKG wishes to draw 12 mile limit in manner which GOJ considers would take in too much of open sea.
Koreans have indicated that there is flexibility in their position. FonMin has stated that government has fall-back positions on delineation of 12 mile zone and restricted areas, conceding to Japanese some of disputed areas around Cheju Island. FonOff sources have also implied willingness to consider modification of current proposals to limit number of Japanese craft within restricted area if GOJ would present statistical support for number of craft it claims are currently fishing within Peace Line.
In view complexity of fisheries problem, and all possible permutations which can enter into a compromise, I do not believe it possible for third party to formulate with precision detailed terms on which a settlement can be reached. Detached formal agreement can only be reached by two govts concerned on basis present negotiations. If we attempted to put forth a specific formula, even on one time basis, we would soon find ourselves caught in middle and involved in mediating [Page 753] technical questions. Therefore we cannot guarantee that single intervention on our part along lines reftel would be successful.
Our intervention, if attempted should be designed get negotiations going at a level which gives promise of success. This requires a decision on both sides to resolve fishery issues at a high political level.
I therefore propose that Amb Reischauer and I be instructed to approach respective govts and urge them to schedule an early meeting of such persons as can negotiate with full powers, whether at FonMinister or other levels. We should urge Koreans to move ahead regardless of internal political opposition, and urge Japanese to be as magnanimous as possible.
Our representation to GOJ might usefully urge:
Commitment to $70 million in fishery cooperation loans.

Agreement by Japanese to restrict fishing effort for temporary period to something near current level.

Our representation to ROKG should urge on them:

Delineation of 12-mile limit in manner approximating international practice.
To avoid injecting any new demands into overall negotiations.

I put above suggestions forward in conviction that USG should move forcibly to convince both govts of need to act now, and that normalization will not come about if both sides continue to haggle about details.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 33–4 JAPAN–KOR S. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to Tokyo.
  2. Document 336.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 336.