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

116921. Literally Eyes Only for the Ambassador from the Secretary.

Surely the time has come for us to begin to resist attempts by the Japanese to erode our base in Okinawa on the grounds of Japanese “sensibilities.”2 We have some sensibilities too. We have some six hundred thousand men in uniform in the Far Pacific engaged in security tasks which are of vital concern to the future security of Japan. We have taken over a quarter of a million casualties since 1945—most of them in the Far East with Japan as a major beneficiary. So far as I know Japan has not lost a single man in confronting those who are the major threat to Japan itself. We are in a deadly struggle in Viet-Nam; my own view is that if the Okinawa base is needed in the course of that struggle we should use it and that Japan should be glad to see us use it.

This is not an instruction which interrupts the flow of cables between your Embassy and the Department but a personal message to you to indicate my own reaction. It is almost more than the flesh and spirit can bear to have Japan whining about Okinawa while we [Page 264] are losing several hundred killed each month in behalf of our common security in the Pacific. I would appreciate your best judgment as to how we can turn this thing around because I feel strongly that we must turn around this intolerable Japanese attitude.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL JAPAN–US. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rusk, cleared by Berger and Read, and approved by Rusk.
  2. Okinawan opposition to B–52s stationed at Kadena Air Base and their role in bombing missions against North Vietnam increased in February, with some opponents calling for removal of the planes from the island. The Ryukyuan Legislature passed resolutions formalizing local opposition to the presence of the B–52s, prompting Japan to express concern about the situation and offer support for the Islanders’ position. (U. Alexis Johnson, The Right Hand of Power, p. 502)