66. Telegram From Vice President Humphrey to President Johnson1

CAP 65968. Eyes Only to President Johnson from Vice President Humphrey. White House pass Eyes Only to Secretary Rusk. No Distribution except Eyes Only Secretary Rusk.

Interim Report Meetings Prime Minister Sato and President Marcos.

1. Japanese Discussion

Meeting with Sato extremely cordial and encouraging.2 Sato clearly wishes to be of assistance. Eagerly received information relative US efforts to seek negotiations with North Vietnamese and asked permission to immediately publicize data on numbers of meetings Rusk has held plus many US initiatives. Sato also instructed Japanese [Page 135]FonMin in my presence to call upon Soviet leaders in Moscow early in January and to assure them President Johnson wants peace.3

Sato plans Japanese effort to assure care for orphans in South Vietnam. Will shortly send Buddhist members of Japanese parliament to discuss with Buddhist leaders South Vietnam matters concerning orphans and refugees. I pressed Sato on Japanese aid to refugees. He said Japan would help. Sato responded favorably to suggestion additional medical teams and doctors be sent to South Vietnam. Probably to work with Buddhists. I suggested Japanese to provide complete medical service for at least one province. However, Japanese Govt will have to try to build up public sentiment so that Japanese doctors will volunteer for such duty. Sato emphasized precarious balance of Japanese Diet on every major issue pointing out supplementary budget was barely passed. Obviously he has difficult parliamentary and public relations problem but wants to do the right thing.

Sato deeply interested in hosting Southeast Asia Ministerial Conference on Economic Development about April even possibly including Indonesia and Cambodia. I strongly urged Japanese leadership in this regional economic development effort, even if discussions had to be bilateral. Sato clearly intends to proceed regardless of Indonesian and Cambodian decisions.4

Sato warmly welcomed initiatives on US-Japanese space operations. Obviously eager to cooperate and particularly interested in communication satellites. Would urge immediate followup discussions on space cooperation.

I concluded by underscoring President Johnson’s strong feelings about encouraging peace initiatives of any kind. Asked Sato to speak up on US peace efforts and legitimacy of our cause and efforts in Vietnam.

[Omitted here is a summary of Humphrey’s discussion with President Marcos of the Philippines.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, International File, Vice President Trip, Far East, December 27, 1965. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Vice President Humphrey visited Japan December 29 as the first stop in his Far Eastern Trip, which lasted until January 2, 1966. He also visited the Philippines, the Republic of China, and the Republic of Korea. Humphrey was part of a high-level team of U.S. officials conferring with allies on the Vietnam war and prospects for a negotiated settlement.
  2. The meeting was held in Sato’s office in Tokyo on December 28 from 11:50 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. A transcript of the discussion is ibid., National Security File, Office of the President File, (Valenti, Jack, Memoranda of Conversations—Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, December 1965–January 1966).
  3. Japanese Foreign Minister Shiina’s trip to Moscow had been previously scheduled for mid-January. (Telegram 2316 from Tokyo, January 3, 1966; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 27 VIET S) Shiina visited Moscow from January 16–22. He raised the Vietnam issue with his Soviet counterpart, Foreign Minister Gromyko, on January 20, but was unsuccessful in his attempt to persuade the Soviets to urge North Vietnam to enter into negotiations. Gromyko adopted what was characterized as a “very tough and unrelenting attitude” toward the Vietnam situation. (Airgram A–920 from Tokyo, February 3, 1966; ibid., POL 7 JAPAN)
  4. In addition, Humphrey and Sato also discussed continued Japanese interest in and support for the Asian Development Bank and economic assistance to Southeast Asia. Sato expressed his country’s disappointment that Manila rather than Tokyo was the headquarters for the Asian Development Bank, but hoped that the Bank’s president would be Japanese. (Summary of Conversations with the Leadership of Japan, Philippines, Republic of China, and Korea, December 28, 1965 to January 2, 1966; Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Vice President, Vol. I)