96. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • United States-Japan Cabinet-Level Talks

You have asked for my views on what we want from the Japanese with more specific reference to the upcoming Cabinet-level talks:

Fundamentally, we want Japan as a partner—not as a rival—in Asia, but as partner sharing the political and economic burdens of regional responsibility. While we do not now seek a greater Japanese military role, other than in its own defense, Japan’s actions should contribute to—and not detract from—effective fulfillment of our military and security commitments to Asia. This is particularly true of any solution to the Ryukyus and Bonins issues.

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During the talks with Foreign Minister Miki and his Cabinet colleagues, I would propose to:

  • —Adopt largely a “listening brief” on the Ryukyus and Bonins, leaving the way open for more conclusive talks with Prime Minister Sato in mid-November but pointing the Japanese in the direction of interim steps to reduce disparities between Okinawa and Japan and thus to ease our problems of the 1968 Ryukyu elections and Japanese public opinion.
  • —Spell out the heavy burden we now shoulder for both the security and economic development of Asia.
  • —Press the Japanese to take on a greater share of regional leadership and the financial burden of economic assistance and of redressing the imbalance in our balance of payments.

In more specific terms, the major objectives I would currently seek from the Japanese:

  • —Support on key United Nations issues and possibly a role in United Nations peacekeeping in the Middle East if this materializes.
  • —Continued support and responsible action on Vietnam, with greater economic aid to the Government of Vietnam.
  • —Adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • —Matching contributions on major East Asian economic development programs, including the Asian Development Bank Special Funds.
  • —Significant reduction in our bilateral balance of payments deficit which results in part from increased military-related expenditures in Japan during the Vietnam conflict.

Basically, what we want and need is a still more mature and responsible attitude on the part of Japan towards the threat posed by the Chinese Communists and by the internal instability of the countries on the periphery of China. Japan has a greater stake than we do in countering this threat. It should understand that our ability to maintain continued support from Congress and the American public for our own commitments in Asia could depend on Japan’s assuming responsibilities commensurate with its stake in regional security and stability.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, Confidential File, CO 141. Secret. The Department of State copy shows the memorandum was drafted by Sneider and cleared by U. Alexis Johnson and Bundy. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL JAPAN–US)