16. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Visit of Mr. Fukuda, Director General, Japan Defense Agency, with the Secretary of Defense


  • Japanese Side
  • Director General, Japan Defense Agency—Tokuyasu Fukuda
  • Chief, Director General’s Secretariat—Yoshio Miwa
  • Interpreter—Hidetoshi Ukawa
  • United States Side
  • Secretary of Defense—Robert S. McNamara
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA)—John T. McNaughton
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA)—Peter Solbert
  • Assistant to the Director, FE Region (ISA)—Captain Jon L. Boyes, USN
Southeast Asia. After the usual formalities, Mr. Fukuda stated that Japan very much appreciated the US efforts in Southeast Asia. He pointed out that it was difficult to maintain control of such an area solely through military means. Based on the Japanese experience, political, economic, social, and cultural efforts are also necessary. He went on to say that the Asians have developed new strong feelings of nationalism, and although the motives of free nations are good, the Communists can twist these motives so that they appear to be against the new and developing countries. It is necessary, therefore, that Japan and the US be careful to make the objects of their policies clear so as to avoid giving the Communists the opportunity to make gains.
Mainland China. Mr. Fukuda pointed out that despite serious harvest losses and the failure of their “great leap forward,” the Chinese Communists are concentrating on the domestic build-up in preference to improving their military forces. Japan does not believe it is possible for the Chinese Communists to mount a large build-up although their propaganda is very active in telling everyone how strong China is and what its military abilities are. Going back to Southeast Asia, Mr. Fukuda brought out three points: 1) Japan welcomed the appointment of General Taylor2 because it demonstrated the resolute [Page 20] stand of the US in Asia; 2) Japan wishes the US success in its efforts to push for international cooperation, as in Korea; and 3) Chinese Communists in Asia are most desirous that the US not reach a détente with the USSR, as this would enable the US to concentrate its efforts on Communist China.

Effect of Communist Gains in Asia. Secretary McNamara asked what the effect on Japan would be if a Viet Cong government took over South Vietnam. Mr. Fukuda replied that it would be like the chessman on a board falling over (the Domino theory), and the repercussions would be felt in Thailand, Indonesia, and in other countries in that area. There would be no direct effect on Japan but indirectly, pressures would build up, particularly in Korea where the Communist Party might be able to gain power through evidence of US failures in Southeast Asia. These pressures would effect Japan. Mr. Fukuda then expanded this view by saying that Japan feels that SVN is a bonfire which is close and he personally feels Japan should do everything to help the US put it out. Unfortunately, Japan’s new constitution and domestic attitudes inhibit actions in this regard.

The Secretary asked what the effect would be on Japan if the US lost in South Vietnam. Mr. Fukuda replied that this would strengthen the left wing elements in Japan, who would probably protest US military bases in Japan and the Japanese-US Mutual Security Treaty. Secondly, Japan would lose trading opportunities in SEA. The Secretary asked if this would lead to pressures for increased trade between Japan and Communist China. Mr. Fukuda replied that the Japanese believe that trade with Communist China has been given too much propaganda. Looking at China’s trading capability, one could see that the Chinese Communists are very limited in products and foreign exchange reserves.

The Japanese Constitution. The Secretary brought up Article IX of the Japanese Constitution and its influence on the military forces of Japan. Mr. Fukuda answered that this article was the result of original US policy of making Japan weak militarily. After the Korean War, a change in US policy resulted and the US assisted Japan in developing military forces. In spite of the limits of Article IX, Japan has made three successive steps towards developing armed forces; first, a national police force, then a Security Reserve, and now Self Defense Forces. In substance, Japan has been acting as though the Article has been changed but an actual legislative change would be difficult. He noted, however, that public opinion shows increasing support for a legislative change and Article IX is under study by a special investigating committee. Fukuda said the feeling is that the Article will be changed, but it will not be as strong as he would like. Japan’s political process requires a two-thirds majority in both Houses followed by a popular referendum.

Japan Defense Budget. The Secretary suggested that the Defense budget should be increased in the interests of Japan. Mr. Fukuda agreed, and stated that there has been an increase over the years and that increases will continue. An amendment to Article IX of the Constitution would increase popular support for a larger defense budget.

The Secretary pointed out that some countries must be careful not to devote too much of their GNP to defense as India is doing, as Iran once did and perhaps as South Korea is tending to do. However, Japan is the reverse in its defense spending. He was delighted to hear Mr. Fukuda express an interest in increasing the budget since Japan, as an economically strong and viable country, has relatively small defense expenditures in comparison with the other free world countries.


Japanese Defense Production. Mr. Fukuda said that Japan understands the need for the US to decrease MAP, and Japan must begin to develop an industrial and technical ability to manufacture and develop its own defense needs. To do this Japan is interested in developing closer relations with American industry by way of cooperative logistics efforts. For example, Japan has been in contact with Raytheon on co-production of HAWK.

The Secretary replied that the US would be pleased to provide assistance on co-production and any other assistance that might be needed to develop Japan’s defense production capabilities. Mr. Fukuda stated that there are some items such as ASROC and DASH which Japan wishes to purchase from the US rather than co-produce.

Invitation for the Secretary to Visit Japan. Mr. Fukuda stated that Prime Minister Ikeda had asked him to invite the Secretary to visit Japan. The Secretary replied that he would like to revive pleasant memories of his last visit and hoped that he could make such a trip during the coming year. Mr. Fukuda said that the Secretary’s visit could be in connection with the Economic Ministers meeting possibly at the same time as an Economic Ministers meeting. The Secretary asked if such a visit should coincide with the Economic Ministers meeting. Mr. Fukuda stated that he would like to study this question and make a proposal later.
Okinawa–Bonin Islands Questions. Mr. Fukuda advanced two proposals on Okinawa and the Bonins, which he was presenting at the request of the Prime Minister. He said that the Japanese Government understands the need for strong US military bases, such as Okinawa, but that an understanding of the people of Okinawa for the need of such US bases is also necessary. The GOJ would like to review with the US the matter of creating better feeling in the area. Mr. McNamara stated the US certainly would be willing to discuss, through the Embassy in Tokyo, with the GOJ anything which would lead to better [Page 22] understanding. Turning to the Bonins, Mr. Fukuda indicated the Soviets permit the Japanese to visit the Kuriles gravesites as do the Chinese Communists in their controlled territories. He then inquired whether the US would consider such visits to the Bonins possible. The Secretary replied that it could be considered through the US Embassy in Tokyo.
The meeting concluded with Mr. Fukuda stating that there was a need for a closer exchange of information between the two nations. In this respect, Admiral Felt’s recent visit helped. The Secretary agreed and presented Admiral Togo’s chronometer to Mr. Fukuda.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 306, 333 Japan. Confidential. Prepared by Boynes and approved by Solbert on July 11. The meeting was held in McNamara’s office at the Pentagon.
  2. General Maxwell Taylor was appointed Ambassador to South Vietnam on July 1.