10. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State1

2541. For Secretary from Ambassador.

Ikeda asked see me today and, after referring to your statement in private conversation with him that I could be used as direct channel to you with no other persons seeing conversation, made following points:

French recognition of Peking2 has had big impact on Japanese public with resultant increase in pressures on GOJ. Proposals put forth by Liao Cheng-chih in Peking and seconded in Tokyo by Chao An-po (both “old Japan hands” among Chicoms) for 1) expansion of trade, 2) exchange of trade representatives, 3) exchange of air routes, and 4) exchange of reporters is meeting favorable public response.3
Some of these suggestions have merit, but Ikeda does not wish to get seriously out of step with US. From recent talks with Wiggins of Washington Post and Drummond of New York Herald Tribune, he concludes that more contacts between US and Peking would be desirable and not necessarily against US wishes. In order further US-Peking contact and help keep GOJ in step with us, he believes it might be wise for Japan to agree to exchange of reporters on condition Peking does same with us. Idea has been talked over with Furui (I suspect he means idea was put forward by Furui), LDP Diet man and member of Okazaki trade mission to Peking last autumn, in whom Ikeda has great confidence as old time bureaucratic associate and also with Matsumura, influential LDP Diet man who has lead movement for closer ties with Peking. Matsumura eager to make approach to Peking on this basis, but Ikeda holding back, ostensibly to study plans further, but really to get your reaction. He would not wish to make such proposal to Peking and then find it embarrasses US.
Ikeda has decided that before any exchange of air routes can be considered, Peking must first make postal agreement with Japan and agreement for exchange of meteorological data. (There are already informal agreements for limited exchange of mail and meteorological information.)
Regarding recognition, Ikeda said he didn’t care if Japan last to extend recognition, on grounds “chief actor need not appear in early scenes.” On this point he also stressed the importance of Japan’s relations not only with GRC but ROK, Philippines and Thailand.
He inquired anxiously about Vietnam situation. Obviously his anxiety has been heightened by sudden resignation of Hilsman. I know he would appreciate anything you could tell him through this personal channel.
In closing he expressed hope for early reply from you regarding proposal in para 2, which I should pass to him without anyone else’s knowledge. This was first time he had met absolutely alone with me, even Kurogane, Chief Cabinet Secretary, being excluded, and Ikeda obviously does not want even Ohira to know he has consulted you on this point.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL JAPAN–US. Secret; Nodis. An attached note from Read states that the telegram was distributed only to Rusk.
  2. France extended diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China on January 27, 1964.
  3. In telegram 2481, February 20, the Embassy reported that French recognition of the People’s Republic of China and increased efforts by France and other European countries to open markets in China stimulated favorable consideration of China’s economic proposals within Japan. Despite potential expansion of trade and economic relations, Japan’s policy remained one of separating economic relations from political and diplomatic recognition. At the same time, however, the Embassy acknowledged that “While trade itself may not reach important magnitudes, proposed actions such as exchange trade reps or ad hoc airline connections could if implemented be by themselves little steps leading in direction of ‘normalization‘ relations with Chicoms who themselves are vigorously promoting closer relationship with Japan.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 JAPAN)