136. Editorial Note

The situation on Okinawa and in Japan was further affected by the appointment of a new High Commissioner for the Ryukyu Islands. In early November the Department of Defense decided to replace General Unger with General James B. Lampert, but first announced its decision on November 21. The news came as a complete surprise to the High Commissioner, the Embassy, and the Japanese and Ryukyuan governments and populace. Ambassador Johnson notified Washington [Page 308]that the unanticipated announcement, for which no advance notice had been given, created widespread astonishment. He admitted his inability “to conceive of anything more ill-timed and calculated to be misinterpreted both here and in Okinawa.” Not only did it undercut the carefully constructed relationship General Unger had built with new Chief Executive Yara and with the Japanese Government, the Ambassador believed, but the change also gave rise to a sense that the United States planned to adopt a hard line toward Okinawa in response to the Yara victory and served to strengthen sentiments for reversion. Ambassador Johnson added that he personally found “it hard, and the Japanese will find it equally hard, to credit that those dealing with these matters really attach the importance that we say we attach to Okinawa, when we deal with an appointment as sensitive and fraught with consequences as this as if it were a change of division commanders.” (Exchange of letters between Secretary Rusk and Deputy Secretary Nitze, as well as Telegrams 14047 and 14099 from Tokyo, November 21 and 22 respectively; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 17 US)