74. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.-Japan Security Treaty


  • Prime Minister Sato
  • Foreign Minister Shiina
  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Hashimoto
  • Ambassador Ryuji Takeuchi
  • Makoto Watanabe, North American Section, Foreign Ministry
  • Secretary of State Dean Rusk
  • Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer
  • William P. Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State
  • J. Owen Zurhellen, Jr., Counselor of Embassy, American Embassy, Tokyo
Mr. Sato noted that the newspapers had reported that a 10 year extension of the Security Treaty beyond 1970 was desired. The Japanese Government, however, had not yet reached any such conclusion. He was sure that Japan wanted the Security Treaty to continue and the Government was considering what would be the best means to have that done.
Secretary Rusk said that he would be glad to keep in close and discreet touch on this matter. It was better not to create problems of public opinion until the Governments themselves had formed their opinions. As far as he knew, the U.S. would want the Treaty to continue. If Japan agreed with this, he thought it best to consider whether any changes at all were desirable. The basic question was whether both countries wanted the Treaty to continue. As far as he was concerned, the answer for the U.S. was yes. How to handle this as a tactical matter would be another question. Except for President de Gaulle,2 all of the NATO countries simply expect the NATO Treaty to continue after 1969 (which is similar for NATO to the 1970 date for the treaty with [Page 150] Japan). Of course, any country could, if it wanted, take advantage of the ability to terminate the treaty on one year’s notice.
The Secretary suggested that contacts between the U.S. and Japan on this matter be discreet. If the discussions become public, there might be problems in both countries. We should not borrow 1970’s troubles today.
Prime Minister Sato said emphatically that there was no de Gaulle in Japan. Moreover, regarding changes in the Treaty, there would be even greater difficulties in the Japanese Diet than in the U.S. Senate. As the Secretary said, this matter could be considered quietly but he thought it ought to be considered now before it becomes urgent. He noted that there were many opinions regarding the Treaty in Japan. The Liberal Democratic Party had put out a tentative report on this subject but this should not be considered Government policy.
The Secretary said that it might be that before this matter reached the point of decision there would be peace in Southeast Asia and this would reduce the tension regarding the Security Treaty. The Prime Minister replied that personally he seriously doubted whether that hope would materialize in time but he thought both sides should discuss the Treaty in the interim.
Secretary Rusk said that the nature of the criticism that would arise in the U.S. if the Treaty again came up for discussion was that the Treaty was too unilateral. The U.S. had pledged American lives for the defense of Japan but there was no similar pledge of Japanese lives for the defense of the U.S. This could cause debate in the United States if brought up at this time. At the press conference today he had been asked whether the U.S. would defend Japan with nuclear weapons if Japan suffered a nuclear attack. He had said that any such attack would be insane but that if it happened, the U.S. would defend Japan with whatever was required.
The Secretary asked whether, in the absence of a Security Treaty with the United States, there would be strong pressure in Japan to develop nuclear weapons. The Prime Minister replied that he personally did not think it would be a good thing for Japan to follow France; the majority of the Japanese people had not forgotten Hiroshima and were opposed to nuclear weapons. Now that Communist China has a nuclear capability, however, arguments have appeared in Japan that Japan would need nuclear weapons for its own defense.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 4 JAPAN–US. Secret. Drafted by Zurhellen and approved in S on July 25. The memorandum is part 5 of 7. The meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Tokyo.
  2. In March 1966 President de Gaulle terminated his country’s participation in the military component of the NATO alliance, requiring that all Allied troops leave French soil and that French troops no longer serve within NATO forces. France’s withdrawal was expected to be complete by April 1969. (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1966, pp. 316–326)