114. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • Visits of U.S. Nuclear Ships to Japan

You asked why we sent the Enterprise to Sasebo when it seemed certain to cause demonstrations. Under Secretary Katzenbach answers the question in the attached memo.2 The basic reasons are:

  • —for logistic and R&R purposes;
  • —to increase Japanese involvement in our Asian defense arrangements;
  • —to reach the point where visits of nuclear powered surface ships are as routine as those of regular naval ships and nuclear subs.

The Under Secretary notes that the Enterprise visit was under consideration for two years. The Japanese had plenty of opportunity to ask for postponement or cancellation, but did not.

The State memo does not, however, deal with what I regard as the most serious element in the Enterprise visit. This is that in the flurry of Diet debate, members of the Sato Government went on record as saying there were no nuclear weapons aboard the ship. They did so on [Page 263] the basis of our assurance that the consultation requirement of the Security Treaty was not involved in the visit.3

[6 lines of source text not declassified]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Japan, Vol. VII. Secret. Sent for information. The memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Attached but not printed; in his memorandum, Katzenbach also gave a longer-range political reason: increased Japanese involvement in defense arrangements. He noted that “port calls by ships of the Seventh Fleet are visible demonstrations of close US-Japanese political relations.”
  3. Airgram A–834 from Tokyo, December 29, 1967, contains details of the Diet’s debate. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 7 JAPAN–US)