63. Editorial Note

Between September 27 and October 1, 1965, Ambassador Reischauer and General Watson reviewed a range of problems pertaining to the Ryukyus. Both agreed that the security of the U.S. military presence on Okinawa was dependent on the Japanese fully understanding their own security interests and their role in maintaining stability in Southeast Asia. General Watson announced his decision to change the method of selecting the Ryukyu Chief Executive, who was currently appointed by the High Commissioner. Both the Ambassador and the Department of State concurred that such a change could defuse criticism of United States administration of the Islands and satisfy local desires for more autonomy, at least for the immediate future.

The manner of selecting the Chief Executive was considered within the Department of State over the ensuing weeks, with the merits of two methods discussed: election by the legislature and direct election by the voting population. The Department of State, Department of Defense, High Commissioner, and Ambassador Reischauer all agreed on the former course, on the grounds that it posed less of a risk than direct election by a restive populace. On December 20, President Johnson signed an Executive Order implementing the voting change. General Watson also announced the change in procedure on December 20, an announcement carefully timed to follow the election of the Mayor of Naha and to precede the introduction of a motion pending in the [Page 130]Ryukyuan legislature providing for the direct popular election of the Chief Executive.

Documents pertaining to the issue are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 19 RYU IS. The text of President Johnson’s Statement and Executive Order is in Department of State Bulletin, January 10, 1966, page 66.