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

1822. 1. Chargé and EmbOffs had luncheon-discussion regarding Okinawa Sept 7 with DirGen PriMin’s office Mori, Vice Ministers Uemura and Furuya and Salb Director Yamano. General Maxwell Taylor, house guest of Chargé, was also present.

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2. Mori described his impressions of recent visit to Okinawa as follows: greatly impressed with attitude and actions of HICOM in all fields; struck by lack of strong influence over events in Okinawa by either USG or GOJ; if present situation (frustration of natural desire of Ryukyuan people for reversion to Japan) continues for much longer, Okinawa may be lost to both U.S. and Japan in sense that conservatives will be voted out of power and Leftists will take over who will cooperate with neither U.S. nor Japan and who will destroy usefulness of U.S. bases in Okinawa; some measures to provide “safety valve” are necessary to prevent anti-American and anti-Japanese explosion; Ryukyuans need to have faith restored in Japan as homeland which will look out for their interests; return to GOJ of administration of education would be symbolic gesture which would take care of ameliorating Okinawa problem for some time to come.

2. [sic] Regarding details of education proposal, Mori said these under study and number of permutations possible.2 Said education was field in Japan in which central govt had relatively little control and most of power left to prefectures. If Japan education law applied to Ryukyus, actual field of operation of Education Ministry would be quite small and principal authority would still remain with GRI.

3. Chargé and EmbOffs pointed out U.S. view of Okinawa problem is different. Freedom to use military bases for direct operational purposes and for nuclear purposes is key factor in usefulness of U.S. bases in Okinawa, and this freedom is denied U.S. bases in Japan proper under security treaty. Japan benefits from U.S. defense efforts in Far East and nuclear, umbrella, but has not yet found it possible to share responsibility with U.S. in these areas. Until such time as Japan decides to share responsibility and onus with U.S. for unrestricted use of bases in Okinawa, U.S. feels that undivided U.S. administration of Okinawa is necessary. From our point of view, therefore, problem is for Japan to move forward in defense field to extent that will facilitate solution of Okinawa problem, rather than for U.S. to divide administration under present circumstances.

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4. EmbOffs further noted any division of administrative authority to place GOJ in direct chain of command [garble—to GRI] would cause considerable administrative problems and conflicts of interest.

5. Mori brought up question of next meeting of Consultative Committee on GOJ aid program.3 He noted FonMin Shiina due to leave Sept 20 on trip abroad, returning around Oct 10. Mori suggested interval before Shiina’s return to Japan be used for informal discussions of aid program to achieve working level agreement which could be ratified at ConCom meeting after Shiina’s return. EmbOffs noted GOJ has not replied to informal indications that U.S. would suggest aid program of approx 20 million dollars. Japanese explained that current GRI demands for aid total 25 million dollars. If GOJ agrees to U.S. proposal of 20 million dollars, it will be criticized for ignoring requests of GRI. If GOJ proposes 25 million figure to U.S., it would anticipate adverse American reaction. GOJ therefore hopes USCAR and GRI will get together and reach figure agreeable to both, which could then be presented to GOJ for consideration without problem of choosing between USCAR and GRI requests. EmbOffs noted negotiations on GOJ aid program were between USG and GOJ, not with GRI, and expressed hope GOJ would make judgments based on USCAR realistic appraisal of need and ability absorb aid. Matter remained inconclusive, and Embassy would appreciate advice from HICOM whether Embassy should reiterate to GOJ that 20 million figure is firm U.S. proposal or whether USCAR sees reasonable prospect of presenting GOJ with new figure which could be supported by GRI. In principle, Embassy agrees with idea of reaching agreement with GOJ in preliminary talks for ratification at conference.

6. Mori mentioned extensive damage in Ryukyus caused by recent typhoons and said [garble] had been instructed assess damage and consult with USCAR regarding emergency assistance that could be extended by GOJ. Would appreciate advice from HICOM on this matter.4

7. Throughout conversation, Mori was friendly but remarks were strongly worded and clearly strongly meant. During discussion of need for GOJ to move forward on defense matters, he said that LDP certainly want to do this, but that greater conservative strength is prerequisite. He stated strongly that as far as he was concerned, Japan should realize U.S. was in Okinawa to maintain world peace and [Page 158] Japan should cooperate unreservedly for that purpose. He said this included Japanese agreement to the introduction of nuclear weapons and unrestricted use of bases. Embassy expects Mori will continue to argue for return of education administration to Japan, but believes some success may have been gained in convincing him that this would not be the simple cure-all which he thinks it is, and that problem of Okinawa must be viewed in overall defense context and not simply as [garble] for reversion.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 19 RYU IS. Secret. Repeated to HICOMRY, CINCPAC for POLAD, and DA.
  2. Soon after assuming the position of Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office on August 1, Kiyoshi Mori advanced an approach to the Okinawa problem known as “functional reversion.” The concept promoted the “return to GOJ on gradual basis of functional areas of Okinawan administration, unrelated to immediate military mission of bases.” Mori recommended the return of Japan’s administrative rights over the Okinawan educational system as a first step toward functional reversion. The concept was criticized by government officials and LDP members for being too vague, oversimplifying the nature of the problem, and conflicting with U.S.-Japanese agreements. (Airgram A–308 from Tokyo, August 26; ibid., POL 2–1 JAPAN) Additional documentation on the issue is ibid., POL 7 JAPAN and POL JAPAN–US. Although the controversy surrounding the concept decreased after Mori’s removal from the Director General’s post in early December, when Sato reformed his cabinet, functional reversion continued to be an issue into 1967. (Telegram 4238 from Tokyo, December 7; ibid., POL 19 RYU IS)
  3. The U.S.-Japanese Consultative Committee on the Ryukyu Islands met on October 18.
  4. At the ConCom meeting, the U.S. proposed a Japanese aid program of $25.8 million for FY 1967 and $4.23 million for typhoon relief in 1966 and 1967. (Telegram 2900 from Tokyo, October 18; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 19 RYU IS)