368. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Korea


  • Foreign Minister Shiina
  • Ambassador Ryuji Takeuchi
  • Nobuhiko Ushiba, Deputy Vice-Minister, Foreign Ministry
  • Takeshi Yasukawa, Director, North American Affairs Bureau, Foreign Ministry
  • Heishiro Ogawa, Director, Asian Affairs Bureau, Foreign Ministry
  • Nobuyuki Nakashima, Deputy Director, North American Affairs Bureau, Foreign Ministry
  • Makoto Watanabe, North American Section, Foreign Ministry
  • Secretary of State Dean Rusk
  • Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer
  • William P. Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State
  • Richard L. Sneider, Country Director, Japan
  • J. Owen Zurhellen, Counselor of Embassy, American Embassy, Tokyo
Foreign Minister Shiina brought up a problem concerning Korea. He said that Japan’s relations with the Republic of Korea were going well except for one headache. This was the problem of the export of plants to North Korea and the entry of North Koreans into Japan in connection therewith. To accomplish the export of plants to North Korea it was absolutely necessary for technicians to come to Japan and carry out inspections. This was the usual business practice. The Japanese Government had delayed this matter for over three years on the grounds that the treaties to normalize relations with the Republic of Korea were in process. Now that the normalization had been accomplished this was no longer a possible out and the GOJ had to do something. The ROK, however, said that Japanese-ROK relations would suffer fundamentally if Japan admitted North Koreans to this country and carried out the plant exports. Mr. Shiina thought, however, that relations with the ROK had grown roots to the extent that no catastrophe would result from Japan’s actions, but he had to admit there would be some difficulty.
Mr. Shiina said he did not want to involve the Secretary in this matter or ask him to bring it up in Korea. If the Koreans brought this problem up with the Secretary, however, he hoped the Secretary would not indicate that he had discussed it with the Japanese. The problem concerned not only the admission of North Koreans to Japan but financing of the exports by private means. There was no intent to use Japanese Export-Import Bank financing. Moreover, the GOJ action in this case would not set a precedent and future similar matters would be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Secretary Rusk asked whether Japan-North Korean trade was important. Mr. Shiina replied that the trade itself was not important but it appeared to Japan that it was only natural for such deals to be approved and the GOJ could not delay further since the matter had been postponed already for three years.
Secretary Rusk said that he had infinite confidence in the ability of foreign office officials to delay matters!
Mr. Shiina said that even the governing Liberal Democratic Party favored admitting the North Korean technicians and it would be difficult for the government to hold the line any longer.
Secretary Rusk said that this was surely a mosquito bite from the overall point of view of foreign trade but it should be remembered that malaria can develop from a mosquito bite. He thought Japan’s relations with South Korea were of far greater magnitude and importance than those with North Korea.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, JAPAN–KOR S. Secret. Drafted by Zurhellen and approved in S on July 25. The memorandum is Part 3 of 5. Rusk visited Japan July 4–7 to attend the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs held in Kyoto.