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

637. Oda’s reference to Ikeda’s bad mood over accumulation of problems with US (Embtel 632)2 and Ambassador Takeuchi’s plea (last para Deptel 376) for Secretary’s interest in this accumulation of problems3 complement growing disquiet we have felt over abrasive effects of US initiatives and actions in series of areas of special interest to Japan. Episode described Embtel 3674 in which I had to make wool démarche during first call on MITI Min Sakurauci on August 3, instead of discussing aid to Vietnam as I had intended, seems symbolic of broader problem.

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While tension, which reached peak in last few days CivAir negotiations, has subsided somewhat and consideration of this and other touchy problems largely postponed until autumn or later, a sour taste has been left in Japanese mouths and we can be sure that tensions will again arise. We believe this period of comparative quiet should be used to resurvey the totality of our relationship with Japan and identify relative importance to us of various actions we want Japan to take.

We fear that certain US stands and actions may serve to nullify other important stands and actions. For example, if US pressure on wool negotiations brings reactions which lessen Japanese support in Vietnam, without increasing Japanese willingness to cooperate on wool, we have made bad bargain indeed. We cannot hope to be successful simultaneously on all fronts in pushing Japanese in directions in which we wish them to go, and some of these directions sometimes seem to cancel each other out. Unless we show consistency in what we ask of Japan, and prove ourselves willing to give as much attention to important Japanese interests as we expect them to give ours, we are likely to have increasing difficulty in getting the Japanese to do what we wish in most vital areas.

We must also bear in mind that gradual growth of defense consciousness in Japan and willingness consider larger role in Asian affairs is inevitably being accompanied by revival of some degree of Japanese nationalism. Thus far this nationalism has been favorable to US and consistent with our broad common interests, and there is no inherent reason why it should not continue so. It is essential, however, to recognize that irritations aroused by international economic issues could help deflect this nationalism into less desirable channels.

Among major points of current friction or pressure are aviation negotiations, wool, Bartlett act,5 upcoming north Pacific fisheries talks, Japanese trade with and ship visits to Cuba, credits to Soviet Union and ChiComs, meaningful participation in Kennedy Round, further liberalization in Japan of imports and investments, Japanese aid to Vietnam and Laos, flexible and generous Japanese approach to problem of normalization with Korea, increased economic role among all free world LDCs, stronger Japanese commitment to Republic of China, cooperation in maintenance US position in Ryukyus, entry of SSNs, and increased defense effort in order to reduce US defense burden in Japanese sector. Political impact in Japan of issues such as civil air and fishery negotiations is likely to reduce our leverage on other issues. In both instances Japanese allege current relationships are governed by unequal [Page 31] agreements imposed during or immediately after military occupation in Japan and argue that present arrangements do not conform to our profession of equal partnership. In both cases concepts of national pride and “international equality” loom large for Japanese. GOJ also seeks terms in North Pacific Fishery Convention which will provide more advantageous basis for fishery conversations Japan must have with USSR. We must expect Japan to persist in its efforts on these issues and Japanese domestic political interest in them to build up rather than decrease. Convention problem is, of course, closely allied in Japanese minds to forthcoming talks on king crab fishery and Bartlett bill.

Wool issue is one on which we should be under no illusions. Japanese will say they are hearing several American voices, one advocating ideals of a successful Kennedy Round and others totally inconsistent with such objectives. To say that convening of wool conference will enhance our ability to resist pressure for a long exceptions list will be seen by the Japanese as introducing dubious criteria governing the preparation of those lists. Fact that our multilateral approach on wool is result of domestic pressures for unilateral action underscores persistent Japanese belief that US is shifting to protectionist tack in commercial policy. They wonder if after meat and wool will shoes be next? Saylor amendment despite administration efforts to defeat it is already adversely affecting Japanese attitudes. Additionally, we are encouraging Japan to recognize and accept the necessity of a shift of labor intensive industries to LDCs such as Korea, and have held to this general principle for the developed countries during the recent UNCTAD. Japanese will now draw conclusion that we find the same medicine distasteful to ourselves. To draw attention to the threat of expanded wool textile production in the LDCs to the markets in the DCs will be seen by the Japanese as inconsistent with what we were trying to achieve in the UNCTAD, and also in the GATT. We can counter these arguments to our own satisfaction, but we are not likely to be persuasive with Japanese.

In our estimation, Japanese likely take less seriously our requests for international cooperation in trade, aid, and close community of political interests among free world countries to the extent we appear to them to violate these principles ourselves. As a result of the various, and to the Japanese contradictory, approaches on issues cited, Japanese may draw conclusion that, while they, too, should continue to support in principle a community of interest among free world nations, their major objective must remain that of holding to positions which protect immediate and narrow national interests.

We do not suggest that US should unnecessarily sacrifice special objectives, as in aviation negotiations, fisheries or wool, but we do feel realistic look must be given to difficulties of meeting these objectives fully [Page 32] without endangering more important ones. There is, of course, no direct one-for-one relationship between any of issues on which Japanese are pressing us and any of issues on which we are pressing them. However, frictions engendered over such issues as air negotiations unquestionably create both public and government moods that make it harder to achieve our other objectives and even cast pall over warmth of developing partnership with Japan.

When viewed from vantage point of Tokyo it seems clear that these various issues, though not necessarily logically related, are related in Japanese mind and therefore affect one another. We believe US runs risk of endangering some major objectives in relationship with Japan by overly rigid stands on certain less crucial objectives. It therefore seems to us the time has come for careful revaluation of US position on growing number of special issues in light of their effect on broader US objectives, both economic and political.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL JAPAN–US. Confidential. After reviewing this telegram, and at the suggestion of William Bundy, Rusk sent it to pertinent Cabinet members and relevant government officials with the suggestion that solutions to problems concerning Japan be carefully coordinated “to avoid jeopardizing our major objectives.” The Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs would concentrate on the coordination effort. Letters from Rusk to Wirtz, Hodges, Dillon, Udall, Freeman, Herter, Heller, and Bell, September 2, attached to a memo from Bundy to Rusk, August 28, are ibid.
  2. In telegram 632 from Tokyo, August 19, the Ambassador reported that Oda characterized Ikeda as being “in disgruntled mood vis-à-vis U.S. because of equalization tax, wool textiles, and civil aviation problems.” Oda feared that Ikeda’s mood would darken when informed that SSN entry would be delayed due to U.S. insistence on solving the problems involving Japanese fish prior to finalization of the agreement on the SSN matter. (Ibid., DEF 7 JAPAN–US)
  3. Telegram 376 to Tokyo, August 7, outlined the topics discussed by Takeuchi and Rusk during their meeting of August 5. (Ibid., POL 1 ASIA SE) Takeuchi suggested systematically addressing a number of issues standing between the United States and Japan over time to avoid “the impression of basic deterioration of relations between the two countries.” (Memorandum of conversation, August 5; ibid., POL 33–4 JAPAN–US)
  4. The reference to telegram 367 from Tokyo, July 29, which reported on Reischauer’s discussion with Shiina on Japanese aid to Vietnam, is erroneous. (Ibid., AID (JAPAN) VIET S) Neither the appropriate telegram nor information about the episode it described have been further identified.
  5. The Bartlett act limited Japanese king-crab fishing off the U.S. continental shelf in the Bering Sea.