11. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Japan1

2268. For Ambassador from Secretary.

Please tell PriMin I greatly appreciate his very private message contained in your 2541.2 Please see him again and pass along following comments from me:

We very much appreciate his suggestion that the exchange of reporters between US and Mainland China might be injected into discussion same subject between Tokyo and Peiping. We have been trying for some years to arrange such an exchange but Peiping has refused. A number of distinguished US journalists have in recent past made individual approaches to Chicom representatives at various places but thus far with no result. Whether exchange of reporters between us and Peiping should be linked to similar exchange by Japan is something which Mr. Ikeda would have to assess. It is much more probable that Peiping would agree to an exchange with Japan than with us. However, if matter were discussed with Peiping and they surprisingly agreed to exchange of reporters with us we would not be embarrassed. I think it only fair to say that since we have had an outstanding proposal on this matter for a number of years with Peiping that if (as is highly unlikely) Peiping should wish to say yes to us and no to Tokyo, we would find it difficult to link the two together and would proceed with exchange. In summary, we doubt that Peiping would agree to exchanges with us and would, therefore, leave to PriMin judgment as to whether this should be a part of his own approach. If approach is made and succeeds, there would be no embarrassment.
We are of course seriously concerned about Viet-Nam situation. Resignation of Hilsman had absolutely no policy implications whatever. Hilsman made a personal choice on basis his own long range future and in face of pressing invitations to return to academic life, invitations which we had persuaded him to fend off for several months. We will have better judgment on Viet-Nam prospects following McNamara visit which begins this week. We shall give PriMin our candid assessment in about ten days time. It is entirely possible that security of Southeast Asia will require all leading free world nations to [Page 10] reach basic policy judgments on how to thwart aggressive moves of Hanoi and Peiping. Principal disadvantage of French recognition Peiping was to give Peiping idea that militancy pays dividends. I fear that détente psychology may be in for a rude shock. Our policy is to continue on the track of giving maximum support to the South Viet-Namese to win their own battle. If this track becomes impossible then principal governments will have to look at the alternatives in the most sober fashion.
On matter of possible Japanese recognition of Peiping I would only repeat what I said in Tokyo,3 namely, that central issue is what is Japan’s policy toward free world interests and communist expansion in Asia. It is not a question of look over a shoulder at us but engages Japan’s most central and vital interests in security and stability in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. I hope very much that our two governments can keep in closest contact on this all important issue.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL JAPAN–US. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rusk, cleared by Green and Read, and approved by Rusk.
  2. Document 10.
  3. In telegram 2605 from Tokyo, March 5, Reischauer reported that he informed Ikeda of Rusk’s remarks. Ikeda stated he would “move ahead as he had proposed” and was prepared “to take a hard line” with the Chinese if they were unwilling to “consider exchange of reporters with the U.S.” He also welcomed the forthcoming briefing on Vietnam. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL JAPAN–US)