340. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson 1

The 86-year old Yoshida, our favorite Japanese Prime Minister back in the ’50s, is a doughty, anti-Communist, pro-Westerner. However, he’s a good deal more so than most Japanese including the present PM. So take whatever he says with a grain of salt.

I’d urge you simply mention to both Yoshida and the Korean PM our great hope for a ROK/Jap settlement and the long-awaited normalization of relations between these two countries.2 We have consistently said for the past two years that this was a matter of highest level US Government interest (it could be worth a billion dollars of Jap support for Korea). The negotiations are now at a crucial stage and a simple affirmation of our interest by you would help greatly to push them along.

There won’t be time for much other business. However, both Yoshida and Doo Sun Choi would like to hear that we remain as determined as ever to hold the Asian flank against Communist China until such time as they can pick up a larger share of the burden. This kind of generalized reassurance would buck them up without tying our hands.3

R.W. Komer 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Japan, Vol. I. Secret.
  2. Both Yoshida and Choi Doo Sun were among the foreign dignitaries attending the funeral of General Douglas MacArthur in Washington. The President met briefly with each on April 9.
  3. When he met with Choi Doo Sun and Kim Chong-yul, President Johnson delivered both messages suggested by Komer. Expressing his “perfect agreement” with the President’s statements, Choi confirmed his government’s commitment to reach an agreement with Japan in the near future. (Memorandum of conversation, April 9; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL KOR S-US) The Johnson-Yoshida meeting consisted of an exchange of pleasantries and “a brief, light discussion of the Japanese and American political scene.” (Memorandum of conversation, April 9; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Japan, Vol. I)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.