83. Editorial Note

By late 1966 and early 1967 the United States and Japan initiated actions to advance the Japanese role not only in Asia, but also in global affairs. As a consequence, relations between the United States and Japan came to mirror more closely the interactive relationship between the United States and its most important European partners.

In mid-December 1966 Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Fredericks and Deputy Chief of the African Section of the Japanese Foreign Ministry Nishisaki discussed a Japanese proposal for arranging regularly scheduled, bilateral talks on Africa. The matter was followed-up by the Japanese Embassy later that month. The Department of State, already conducting such general discussions with its major European allies, welcomed Japan’s proposals for a similar arrangement to exchange ideas and information on mutual African interests. After further discussion with Japanese representatives and [Page 165] consultation with the Embassy, the Department of State authorized the Embassy on January 26, 1967, to conclude an agreement with the Japanese Foreign Office for talks on Africa to take place once each year, with the meeting site alternating between Washington and Tokyo. The informal talks among Bureau-level officials would consist of a tour d’horizon as well as discussion of specific interests of either side. After a series of unavoidable delays, the first bilateral meeting on Africa took place on December 18 and 19 in Washington. Documentation on the African talks is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 1 JAPAN–US.

Also in early 1967 the United States approached Japan with a proposal to meet, in Tokyo and Washington in alternating years, shortly before the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in order to exchange views on current issues likely to be brought before that body. The United States already had such an arrangement with Great Britain and had recently initiated the practice with Canada. The first consultative meeting with the Japanese took place on July 24 and 25 in Tokyo. The United States was represented by former Under Secretary of State Ball and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Sisco. Documentation covering the meetings is ibid., POL 7 US/GOLDBERG and ibid., POL JAPAN–US. In the autumn of 1967 prior to the upcoming General Assembly, Foreign Minister Miki informed Ambassador Goldberg of Japan’s intention to assume a more active leadership role relative to political issues coming before the United Nations, signaling a definitive shift in Japan’s prior overriding concern with economic matters. (Ibid., UN 22–2 JAPAN)

As the Embassy pointed out, Japan’s emergence as a major player on the world stage led to increased Japanese interest in pursuing policies reflective of its national interests and independence. In that regard, the need to settle the Okinawa issue became more urgent, the Security Treaty and Japan’s role in defense and military issues were more widely discussed, and the view that adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would make Japan an unequal power and circumscribe its sovereignty emerged as a subject of some debate. Japan’s desire “for a prominent, unique and independent national policy” was not, however, incompatible with the United States’ foreign-policy objective of having Japan accept a regional and global role equal to its economic status. (Airgram A–1398 from Tokyo, April 17; ibid., POL 1 JAPAN–US)