20. Letter From the Ambassador to Japan (Reischauer) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy)1

Dear Bill:

Many thanks for your letter of July 21 regarding General Watson’s visit to Japan.2 In view of the importance of this visit, I thought you would be interested in an early report on it. (Actually he does not leave until tomorrow morning, but the substantive part of the visit is already completed.)

Our official reports are pretty subdued because we felt a strongly enthusiastic tone might seem to be veiled criticism of his predecessor, but actually the visit could not have gone better. Watson seems indeed to be the right person for the job and he has created a most favorable impression on us and on the Japanese. For one thing, we have laid the basis, I believe, for a fully effective relationship between him and me and our respective staffs. He appears to be as eager as I am to establish the same sort of close relationship that the Embassy has with United States Forces Japan, and while geography and other factors will make this somewhat more difficult in the case of Tokyo-Naha contacts, I feel confident that we can greatly improve the situation.

The Japanese are obviously delighted with Watson, both at the government and press levels. He in turn was most impressed by Ikeda and his talks with the other government leaders went well, too.3 He came through to the Japanese as a broad-gauged, reasonable, humanitarian man, and he laid at rest their basic fear that, while Washington might recognize Japan’s residual sovereignty, the authorities in Okinawa would be working surreptitiously to wean the Okinawans away from Japan.

I felt that the important thing in this first get-together was to establish a general feeling of mutual trust and respect and not to try to solve specific problems before Watson had had a chance to study them at first hand in Okinawa. Nonetheless, I and members of my staff did talk over with him most of the problems you mentioned in your [Page 28] letter4 (and some others, too), and he did make a number of clear statements to the Japanese which will be very helpful. He repeatedly made it clear to them that he would operate on the basis and in the spirit of President Kennedy’s March 1962 statement; that he wanted closer contacts and cooperation with the Japanese Government through the new committees,5 the Embassy, the Japanese Liaison Office in Naha and through frequent exchanges of visits, and that he personally hoped to cooperate closely with the Liaison Office in Naha (this was particularly reassuring to them). He did not make as specific statements on the economic side, but he seemed receptive to what we said about economic problems and indicated to the Japanese in general terms his desire for as much economic aid and cooperation as possible. He also made clear his intention to listen to the Ryukyuans and their leaders and, while he avoided using the word “autonomy” to the Japanese (it does not appear in President Kennedy’s statement either), he did emphasize the development of “responsible government” in the Ryukyus, and this was well received in Japan. He assured me that he hoped to see a virtually autonomous Ryukyuan government as soon as possible and that he meant to get out of the day-to-day handling of Civil Affairs and to pass these duties to the Civil Administrator, as was envisaged in President Kennedy’s statement.

Watson and his family (there is an invalided mother-in-law and nurse, too) have been staying with Haru and me, and we have found them delightful people. I feel that with his appointment we have made a long step forward in the whole Okinawan problem. If he can continue to keep the confidence and respect of the Japanese and will implement the close cooperation with the Embassy which he and I agreed upon, I am sure that we can stuff the Okinawa genie back into his bottle for a good time to come.

With best regards.



P.S. I should add a word about what Ikeda and the other leaders said to Watson. All of them clearly indicated their support for our continued position in the Ryukyu Islands and not one of them made any reference to reversion or to sharing administrative rights with them. I think this was very reassuring to Watson.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 7 JAPAN–US. Confidential; Official–Informal. A notation on the letter indicates Bundy saw it.
  2. Not found.
  3. Watson met with Shiina, Ikeda, and the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, Soichi Usui, among others, in Tokyo on July 30. A memorandum of each conversation was forwarded to the Department of State in airgram A–169, August 7. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 19 RYU IS)
  4. Not found.
  5. Reference is to the U.S.-Japan Consultative Committee and Technical Committee established, after much delay, in the spring of 1964 to coordinate and administer aid from Japan to the Ryukyus.