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

11300. 1. Summary. At his initiative, I had three-hour private meeting with FonMin Miki yesterday afternoon in hotel room arranged by him with only Togo present on his side and interpreter on my side.2 We covered waterfront, in frank and friendly manner: Vietnam, long-range outlook for US-Japan security relationship including bases here and in Okinawa, formulae for continuation of security treaty in 1970, our mutual interests in ROK’s security, long-range economic questions, renewal of SSN visits, Kawashima’s visit to US,3 NPT, ASPAC meeting, Japanese contacts with NVN in Vientiane, Okinawa Diet representation, etc.

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2. Miki was much more forthcoming in his attitude on Vietnam than I have ever heard him before,4 stating flatly that Japan did not want any settlement that would result in a Communist SVN and that he felt settlement should be based on return to principles 1954 Geneva Accords with mutual withdrawal of NVN and American forces. He recognized “full withdrawal” American forces might take period of years. He was ambiguous in responding to my suggestion that Japan say this publicly, but accepted the suggestion that it be said by GOJ Ambassador in Vientiane to NVN Ambassador with whom he said a friendly social contact had now been established. I pointed out this should remove a possible impression in Hanoi that Japan was urging us to make peace at any price. He laid strong emphasis upon acceptance of basic relationship with the US, “there is no one else to whom Japan could turn,” by “everyone” in Japan, except JCP. Our present problem with bases, etc., was only a manifestation of “gap” in Japanese popular understanding of Vietnam war and would disappear when war terminated. He had no specific suggestions on what further could be done on our part to bridge this “gap,” although he felt we had not been successful in getting across point here that our de-escalation by partial bombing halt of NVN had not been matched by any corresponding action on NVN part. I pointed to recent statements by the President, Secy Rusk, Secy Clifford in this regard and failure of Japanese media to give these statements adequate coverage. Miki indicated Japan would be prepared to be a “guarantor” under an international guarantee of SVN and “would like to consider” sending civil police forces (as opposed to military personnel) if such a role on ground should develop. Japan wanted to do everything within its power to help bring about and maintain peace in Vietnam and would always welcome any suggestions that we may have.

3. On other matters I pressed hard on necessity of Japan making up its own mind on what American military presence in this part or world it desired over long run and was really willing to support. Miki said that in next ten-year time frame while wanting “rationalization and consolidation” of bases, Japan would want effective US military presence in Japan as well as in ROK.

4. I also pressed hard on necessity of Japan promptly taking initiative in being much more forthcoming on economic and investment [Page 296]matters to forestall undoubted rise of protectionist pressures in US next year when growing gap in trade balance became evident.

5. While still hung up on exact language in our reply to GOJ on SSN visits, we came close to a substantive and procedural agreement that should permit resumption of SSN visits next month or two.

6. We discussed formulae for making clear intention of two govts to continue security treaty after 1970.

7. We confirmed the scenario on Okinawa representation in Diet and agreed to keep on ice for time being any further discussions on return of Okinawa administration.

8. Miki was obviously and very usefully impressed at ASPAC meeting with deep concern of all other participants over security matters.

9. I was not able to get any commitment on timing of Japanese signature of NPT although they are still moving in that direction. End summary.

10. Miki opened the discussion with a broad statement on the acceptance by everyone in Japan (except Communists) of the fundamental problem in our relations except that for the time being problems with respect to our military bases here came primarily from the “gap” in general Japanese lack of understanding of the Vietnam war. While “politicians” and those in the GOJ understood and supported our objective of preventing a Communist take-over of SVN, this view was not generally shared in the country. This “gap” could best be closed by concluding the war in Vietnam, which would then leave no serious problem between the two countries.

11. This led to a long discussion of Vietnam during the course of which I asked Miki what we could do to close the gap. He then outlined a “peace plan” which I pointed out was almost exactly what we had been repeatedly urging publicly and privately for years. This in turn led to my suggestion they make their position clear to Hanoi through the contact he said they had established in Vientiane. During the course of this discussion, on a personal basis, I challenged his assertion that Hanoi now realized that it could not achieve its objective in SVN and was genuinely looking for a way of making peace. I said it was my own feeling that Hanoi had not yet arrived at this stage but was still hoping domestic and international pressures would force a reversal of US policy. Thus anything Japan could do to disabuse Hanoi of this notion was biggest contribution Japan could now make to peace.

12. Also during discussion of Vietnam he agreed that, while VC who laid down their arms should be able to participate in peaceful political process, it was entirely unrealistic to urge a “coalition” with armed VC and NLF elements dedicated to the destruction of the government in which they were participation.

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13. In response to his question, I bluntly stated that, looked at from standpoint of US, biggest basic threat to Japanese-US relations was feeling on part of US that after sacrificing thousands of lives and billions of dollars in defense of areas of East Asia, an area which is at least of equal interest to Japan, we not only did not get any understanding from Japan but received criticism and harassment on essentially minor matters. I felt that if our future relationship was going to develop in a constructive manner, it was important that the American people get a sense that Japan was bearing a responsibility commensurate with its growing power. Rather than continuing to seek to be treated by the US as a minor and weak country, our relationship needed to be more firmly established on the basis of equality in all fields, including economic.

14. In the security field speaking as an American citizen rather than an Ambassador under instructions, it was my personal conviction that, looking at the long run, the American people would not be willing to maintain a major military presence in this part of the world unless they were convinced it was genuinely desired and supported by the people of the area, above all by Japan. Thus, I felt it important Japan reach its own decision on what kind of an American military presence it desired in the light of its own estimate of its own national interests and what it was willing to do to make that presence possible and to support it. The two countries would then have a sound basis for discussing these matters.

15. In the economic field, I said it is important that Japan now anticipate and take measures that would help forestall protectionist pressures to be expected in the US when the extent of the large and growing trade gap this year between the two countries became evident. The US administration had taken a unified strong, consistent line against protectionist measures but the GOJ was badly split by Miti’s protectionist attitudes. I questioned whether this was in Japan’s long-term interests.

16. Miki took this in good spirit and said he thought my remarks should be used “as a basis for discussions in the govt.” He had also read and correctly interpreted speech which I recently gave to Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce as having same implication in both security and economic fields.

17. In reply to my question as to whether during the next ten years we should expect to be harassed on our bases here and in Okinawa, to the point that our position would become untenable, Miki said that he definitely felt that this would not be the case. Citing his own and LDP experience in Sasebo and Fukuoka in the July Upper House elections,5 [Page 298]he said he felt Japanese people not only valued security relationship with US but understood and accepted the necessity of base structure. This structure should be “rationalized” and be subject to a clear and better understanding between the two govts than had been the case in the past. In this connection, he said the GOJ needed to accept more “responsibility.” I, of course, also pointed to the heavy financial costs that would have to be borne by the GOJ for any relocation of major air bases. Miki said he understood.

18. On security treaty, Miki said LDP had decided on policy of continuation of treaty and asked my views on how two govts should make this clear. I pointed out that treaty was of indefinite duration and there was no legal requirement for any action by either govt. We discussed possibility, if PriMin visited US in 1969, of stating intention to continue treaty in joint communiqué. Miki also said that at the regular Diet session beginning next January in response to questions, govt might make some firm and formal statement at that time of intention to continue treaty and queried me whether at that time there could be some response from USG in same sense. I pointed out that there would of course be new administration in Washington and was not sure we could work out anything that would fit into their diet timetable, but we promised to keep in touch.

19. On Okinawa, he asked my view on another “joint and continuous review” session and I said from my standpoint I had nothing more to say and would prefer to not have such a mtg, but if, for its own purposes, GOJ desires such a mtg, I would of course be glad to consider. He indicated that GOJ would not have anything to say on “type of bases” (by which he confirmed he meant both freedom of use and storage of nukes) and matter was left open.

20. On Okinawa Diet participation, we agreed that October might be best time to announce “agreement in principle” between two govts with details including question of voting rights to be worked out in 1969. (Both of us expressed our unhappiness that Nishime had not stuck to scenario and at Matsuoka’s attempting to hog the show.)

21. On SSN visits, he said that STA would complete installation of monitoring equipment in first part of September and “organization” in manner that would avoid repetition Sasebo incident. In reply to his question as to whether delivery of our reply on SSN visits should be made simultaneously with or prior to GOJ announcement of monitoring set up, I said I would abide by his view. However, before giving reply I wanted full briefing on monitoring set up and contemplated arrangements between two govts as well as public handling of any alleged incidents. I said I was not prepared to recommend resumption of visit until I was satisfied set up was such we would not again be victimized by false reports. He said he agreed to arrange to see that I get [Page 299]this. With respect to our reply, he boggled heavily at “routinely” going back to “normal” or “except in case of emergency.” I explained efforts I had made to obtain mutually acceptable language and said that I had no choice but to insist upon “routinely.” We had long discussion re possible Japanese translations and matter was left that Togo would try to suggest alternative language although I gave no encouragement that any other language would be acceptable. Togo felt that delivery of our reply and announcement of GOJ monitoring set up should be at same time. I also raised question as to whether GOJ would wish Sasebo or Yokosuka as port call for first call. Miki promised to consider.

22. On Kawashima visit, Miki said that while Kawashima wanted to meet with members of Congress on a “party to party” basis, he realized that, because of campaigning, Congressmen might not be available and therefore Miki had suggested that he see Secy Rusk. A request for this had been made through the Japanese Embassy in Washington. I said I was having Kawashima to lunch before he left.

23. We had long discussion on ROK security and in reply to my questions, Miki said that he felt confident Japan would want US to maintain a military presence in ROK to deter attack as long as present North Korean hostility was evident and that Japan recognized role of bases in Japan and Okinawa in support our forces in ROK. He said almost all Japanese recognized direct relationship ROK security to that of Japan and in reply to my question said that he had no doubt that in the event of a clear and overt attack by North Korea on the ROK, Japanese people would fully support military action including action on our part from Japanese bases. However, Japanese did not feel North Korea would launch overt attack against ROK, in part because they were “fed up” with Peking, but would continue guerilla action. He said as gesture to ROK, GOJ was “considering sending some rice.” In reply to my question as to whether Japan could not do something in non-lethal military or police type aid he was very ambiguous but admitted to psychological value such gesture would have in ROK “if it could be done without arousing opposition in Japan.” In this connection he recognized that there was a “gap” between Korean and Japanese feelings with Korea feeling that it was “defending Japan at the 38th parallel.” I said I agreed that there was such a gap.

24. In reply to my query as to “when they were going to sign the NPT,” Miki said they were still engaged in “education process” vis-á-vis industry as well as the people. There was still considerable feeling that Japan would be subject to considerable inequality in inspection by IAEA as compared with Euratom as well as concern over use of “peaceful explosions.” Looking me in the eye, he said that “even if we delay in signing the NPT, Japan will not develop nuclear weapons.”

25. In various contexts throughout conversation Miki laid much emphasis upon Japan accepting more “responsibility” and standing on [Page 300]its own feet avoiding impression it was dancing to US tune as best means of maintaining good long-term relations with US. However, he was never specific as to how he envisaged this being implemented. I said I, of course, agreed as this fitted in with my own thoughts on more equality in our relations.

26. At his own initiative, Miki chatted about ASPAC mtg indicating his principal impression was high degree of emphasis by other countries on “security.” He was very favorably impressed with new GVN Foreign Minister, said that Thanat Khoman was, of course, very “clever” and at this mtg went out of of his way to support every position taken by Miki but that ROK Foreign Minister was “very tough,” pushing hard on the security matters and proposal to draft an ASPAC charter. Hasluch seemed to appreciate Miki’s speaking against such a charter.

27. In response to my question Miki said Japanese generally viewed Czech-Soviet developments as evidence of desirable change in world toward “democratization and liberalization” in response to humanistic forces which Soviets were unable to suppress by force. All Japanese including JCP supported Czechs.6 I pointed out the relationship of calls for coalition government in Vietnam to Soviet demands that Czechs tolerate absolutely no opposition or opposition party. I noted that despite Soviet advances in accepting “coexistence” Communist doctrine still permits no toleration of an opposition.

28. Miki was obviously on his best behavior and without attributing unworthy motives to him he confirmed my feeling that he was very anxious to make a “good impression.”

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL JAPAN–US. Secret; Exdis.
  2. When notifying the Department of State of the upcoming meeting, U. Alexis Johnson speculated that Miki may have sought a private meeting because of his potential future candidacy for Prime Minister. Johnson also suspected “that one purpose he may have in mind is to establish his credentials with US as friend and thus hope to assure at least our complete neutrality if he decides to challenge Sato.” (Telegram 11115 from Tokyo, August 15; ibid.) The Department suggested Johnson include the following topics in the discussion with Miki: Japanese efforts to contain domestic protectionism, early signing of the NPT, and Japanese regional economic assistance. While the discussion touched upon the latter two issues, Johnson and Miki seemingly did not discuss Japanese protectionism. (Telegram 222058 to Tokyo, August 16; ibid.)
  3. Shojiro Kawashima, Vice President of the LDP, met with Rusk in Washington on September 9. They discussed the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, Okinawa, and China, among other topics. Memoranda of their conversations are ibid., POL 7 JAPAN.
  4. U. Alexis Johnson sent a copy of this telegram with his letter of August 22 to Harriman in Paris. In that letter Johnson emphasized that Miki’s comments and remarks made by Kawashima during a recent meeting appeared to be positive expressions of Japanese attitudes toward and support of U.S. policy in Vietnam. Their correspondence on the matter is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Box 13, U.A. Johnson.
  5. Upper-House elections were held on July 7.
  6. In a September 10 letter to Harriman Johnson noted that the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia “has had profound affects [sic] here—far beyond anything I thought likely—with respect to both Vietnam and our general security relationship with Japan. It is the first issue in post-war Japanese history on which there has been full agreement among every Japanese party, although the left does not of course draw the same conclusions as does the LDP with respect to relations with the United States or Vietnam. However, for the first time the Japanese people generally see that there is reality in this talk of a ‘threat’ and thus are inclined to look anew at their defense relations with us rather than regarding it as a nuisance which they have to accept to keep us happy.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Box 13, U.A. Johnson)