91. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk1
- Ryukyus and Bonins
- We are confronted by a considered Japanese request to agree to negotiations for the return of administration of the Ryukyus and Bonins to Japan by 1970.
- Foreign Minister Miki and Ambassador Shimoda in separate conversations (Tab B)2 have proposed discussion of this problem during the Miki visit in September, looking to an agreement between the President and Sato in November to begin negotiations on the terms of reversion, which would need to include special base rights to satisfy our military requirements.
- Ambassador Johnson reports that Miki is hoping for our initial reaction before Johnson returns to Washington for the Cabinet meetings. Ambassador Johnson plans to leave Tokyo about August 28. In a letter to us (Tab C),3 he envisaged a scenario presenting the Japanese with a “bill of particulars” to force the Japanese to make the necessary decisions. This would be followed by your discussions with Miki, and, if all goes smoothly, an announcement during Sato’s meeting with the President of agreement to begin negotiations on reversion.
- Our recommendation is that we inform the Japanese that we are prepared to negotiate on reversion provided they give us advance commitments to assure broad freedom of action for the use of U.S. bases, particularly to support the Vietnam War, and to enlarge their political and economic role in Asia. We have concluded that our prospects for reaching an agreement with Japan on this basis will never be better than at the present time. We also anticipate that actual return of the islands [Page 190]to Japanese sovereignty will not take place until 1969 or 1970 since lengthy negotiations on the detailed arrangements will be required.
- ISA and EA have drafted a Memorandum to the President from you and Secretary McNamara4 recommending this course of action. We have discussed the position recommended in the memorandum with Messrs. Rostow and Owen, and they agree with its basic thrust.
- Mr. Macomber5 has serious reservations about acting now on the Ryukyus and Bonins, given the opposition to the Panama Canal Treaty. He would prefer to wait until the Panama Treaty debates are completed. Although return of these islands can be accomplished by executive agreement, he also suggests a joint resolution by Congress or some other form of associating Congress with the actions recommended. Finally, he recommends that when and if you conclude it is essential to push forward with the return of these territories to Japan, that our recommendation to the President be couched in terms of seeking his approval of our consulting with appropriate Members of the Congress, prior to making a final recommendation to proceed.
- The draft memorandum is being forwarded by ISA to Secretary McNamara. I understand that he is inclined to move ahead with reversion if we can get the right price. He will not act formally, until he receives the views of the JCS. The JCS position heretofore has been to hold onto the Ryukyus and Bonins as long as possible until political pressures force us to return administration of these islands to Japan.
That you meet briefly with Messrs. Bundy, Macomber, and Sneider to renew this issue and provide guidance for final discussions with DOD.6[Page 191]
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 19 RYU IS. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Sneider and cleared by Macomber. A handwritten note on the memorandum reads: “Sir: EA has now offered this new second page (below) reflecting Sec. McNamara’s views.”↩
- At Tab B are telegram 271 from Tokyo, July 15, summarizing the July 15 conversation between Miki and U. Alexis Johnson (Document 88), and telegram 5236 to Tokyo, July 12, summarizing the July 10 discussion among Shimoda, Bundy, and Berger, attached but not printed.↩
- Attached at Tab C but not printed is a July 12 letter to Sneider.↩
- At this point a handwritten notation that reads: “(draft at Tab A; Sec. McNamara has not yet cleared—see para. 7 below)” was inserted. The draft memorandum is printed below.↩
- William B. Macomber, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, March 1967–October 1969.↩
- Rusk approved the recommendation and set the meeting for August 14 at 11:30 a.m. The meeting was attended by Bundy, Berger, Read, Sneider, and John P. White, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. It ended at 12:18 p.m. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Books, 1967) No other record of the meeting has been found.↩
- President Johnson apparently received the final version of this memorandum; it has not been found.↩
- In addition to the Ryukyus, Japan has residual sovereignty over the following islands covered in Article 3 of the Peace Treaty: the Bonin Islands, Rosario Island, the Volcano Islands (including Iwo Jima), Parece Vela, Marcus Island, and the Daito Islands. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- For McNamara’s recommendations see Document 92.↩
- The draft gives no indication of President Johnson’s decisions on these recommendations.↩