84. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1
This thoughtful cable from Alex Johnson is the kind Ambassadors should write but rarely do.
He conveys Sato’s anxiety that U.S. détente with the U.S.S.R. could throw the Japanese position in Asia out of balance.
It is parallel to Western European anxiety about the détente and the non-proliferation treaty.
Basically, what Japan wants is a Communist China that is not so weak that it is under Soviet dominance and not so strong that it threatens Japan. It wants a Soviet Union not in open conflict with the U.S. but sufficiently preoccupied with the U.S., China, etc., so that it must take Japan seriously and doesn’t feel free to lean on it.
Japan wants our protection, economic ties, and friendship. From that base it wants to build a position of leadership in Asia; trade from a position of strength with both Communist China and the Soviet Union.
But it doesn’t want us buddying up too close to either Communist China or the U.S.S.R.—especially the latter, because of its greater relative strength.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Japan, Vol. VI. Secret. The memorandum indicates that the President saw it.↩
- Secret; Exdis. The cable was retyped for the President. The White House copy bears the handwritten notation “A thoughtful alert from Alexis. BKS” added by Bromley K. Smith. (Ibid.) The Department of State copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 US/GOLDBERG.↩
- Telegram 6063 from Tokyo, February 27, reports on a conversation among Goldberg, U. Alexis Johnson, and Sato held at the Prime Minister’s official residence on February 27. (Ibid.)↩
- In a March 9 memorandum outlining his Asian trip, Goldberg reported similar information to President Johnson and Rusk, stating that the Japanese “retain a basic respect and sympathy for the Chinese,” are “not so concerned about Communist China’s expansionist tendencies,” but are wary of “the expansionist designs of the Soviets vis-à-vis Asia.” (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Secretary’s Miscellaneous Correspondence)↩
- The Japanese concern was twofold: (1) U.S. claim to a 12-mile territorial right for fishing interests without considering Japan’s historical fishing rights; and (2) U.S. propensity to treat Japan and the USSR equally, even though the latter claimed its own 12-mile sea right and fished off the U.S. coast for a shorter period of time than Japan. (Telegrams 118835 and 119438 to Tokyo, January 14 and 16, respectively, and memorandum of conversation, February 14; all ibid., Central Files 1967–69, POL 33–4 JAPAN–US) After a series of negotiations, agreements between the United States and Japan on major fishing issues were reached by an exchange of notes and agreed minutes on May 9. The agreements permitted some fishing by Japan within the 12-mile zone, restricted certain catches to beyond that zone, and addressed issues relevant to Japanese salmon fishing. The texts of the agreements are in 18 UST 1309.↩