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

271. Ref: Tokyo 266.2

I saw FonMin Miki this morning in room at new Otani Hotel for more than one hour. (Ushiba, Togo and Edamura were also present.) (It was agreed that if, in spite of elaborate precautions that were taken to preserve secrecy of our meeting, there nevertheless was a press leak, Miki would say that he had briefed me on ASPAC.) During meeting Miki made oral presentation much along lines aide-mémoire, and in turn I pressed him hard to effect that heart of problem was necessity of GOJ making decisions on what kind of U.S. military presence it desired in area and facing up to increased responsibility GOJ would have to assume if Okinawa administration returned and effective U.S. military presence maintained.
While not arguing this point, Miki kept returning to desire to determine what were “minimum” military requirements. In response to which I pointed out it was not question of what were minimum U.S. requirements—in one sense we could do almost anything, including getting out of Okinawa and East Asia entirely—it was, as expressed in aide-mémoire, question of what was common interest of both countries. To determine this it was necessary for GOJ to decide what its interests were. GOJ generally knew what we were doing and could do out of Okinawa under present circumstances and could itself see limitation that would be placed on U.S. (as well as increased GOJ involvement and responsibility) if present security treaty and SOFA were applied to Okinawa. While GOJ now subject to attack from opposition with respect to Okinawa, would GOJ be able any better to handle opposition attacks if arrangements in Okinawa were such as to give the flexibility to maintain maximum military capabilities and, accordingly, maximum deterrent value to Okinawa? I pointed out, for example, that question is not whether Polaris replaces Okinawa but rather our ability to maintain a graduated and thus more credible capability for response. Miki stressed that Japan valued and wanted U.S. military presence in East Asia and specifically desired that there be U.S. military base on Okinawa and only problem was how to reconcile Japanese desire for reversion with military requirements. To do this GOJ needed a good understanding of what those requirements really were. I pointed [Page 183] out that ever since my arrival here I had been seeking to establish a forum for just such a discussion with GOJ and last security consultative committee and sub-committee meetings were only first steps in this direction. I welcomed this morning’s discussion with Miki and looked forward to further such talks.
In response to my probing what kind of timetable GOJ had in mind, Miki was very vague only stating that, as opposition would not be able to make much of a 1970 issue on security treaty question, they can be expected increasingly focus on Okinawa. On relationship of timing to Vietnam war, he replied that they could see problem of reaching final solution prior to end of Vietnam war, but felt that in meanwhile we should be moving forward with serious joint U.S.-Japan study of resolution of Okinawa problem.
On Bonins, I confined myself to saying that I agreed consideration should not be given to return of population prior to solution of question of administration. (After Miki had left, Togo indicated that PriMin Sato very concerned re obtaining prompt solution to Bonins question. GOJ estimate was that reversion of Bonins was significant factor re Okinawa but would not exacerbate Okinawa problem.)
There was no detailed discussion of interim measure proposed by GOJ with respect to Okinawa. I said that I could not see that we had objection to any of the principles set forth, but problem was with specifics, many of which also involved GRI. In discussion with Ushiba and Togo following Miki’s departure, it was left that FonOff would follow up with more precise paper containing specifics but that in meanwhile it would be helpful to FonOff in dealing with other GOJ departments if they could say that there was general USG agreement to principles. One of things GOJ had in mind was strengthening JGLO personnel and functions on Okinawa with widened terms of reference that would permit it deal on more matters directly with USCAR and GRI. It was left that I would seek USG reaction to general principles set forth in aide-mémoire and that specifics would be subject further discussion at staff level between FonOff and Embassy.
I pointed out my reactions were, of course, only preliminary and not under instructions. Matter was left that, after receiving Washington reactions, we would meet again, probably around end of August, prior to September cabinet-level meeting in Washington, and in meantime another security sub-committee meeting probably would be held.
Detailed memcon follows.3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL JAPAN–US. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD and HICOMRY.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 87.
  3. The memorandum of conversation, July 15, is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 19 RYU IS.