98. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Sato Visit—Preparatory Meeting

A meeting in the White House is scheduled on October 16 at 4:00 p.m. to discuss preparations for the visit of Prime Minister Sato on November 14–15.2 A considerable amount of work in spelling out our objectives for this visit was done in preparation for the Cabinet level talks in mid-September. For your background in preparing for the Monday meeting, the key points on the visit are summarized below.


Sato’s visit takes place at a time when United States-Japan relations are at a high point. They are seriously clouded only by the unresolved territorial issues of the Ryukyus and Bonins, but even here there is recognition of the need to resolve these issues without acrimony and with due regard to the problems involved for both countries and the need to strengthen our bilateral relationship. Sato also comes to Washington holding strong domestic political cards and with his economy booming. The only threat to his position and that of friendly conservative ruling elements is serious mishandling of the Ryukyu and Bonins issue.

Finally, Sato has set the stage for his Washington visit by a major swing throughout East Asia demonstrating Japan’s pretentions for regional leadership with due sensitivity to residual local apprehension regarding a revived “co-prosperity sphere.” During his travels, Sato has voiced stronger support for United States Vietnam policies and will [Page 212]have visited both Taiwan and South Vietnam, areas of particular political sensitivity in Japan.3

United States Objectives:

In broad terms our objectives during the Sato visit look both to the past and to the future:

  • —We want and need to reaffirm Japan as our primary partner in Asia.
  • —Looking to the future, we seek to convert this partnership into a relationship in which the political and economic burdens of regional responsibility are shared more fully.

Spelling out these objectives in more specific terms, we seek:

  • —A greater sense of Japanese commitment to securing free world interests in the region and a more responsible attitude towards the threat posed by the Chinese Communists.
  • —Further concrete expressions by Japan of regional leadership.
  • —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.
  • —Further substantial 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.

Major Problems:

Our major problems during the visit will be twofold. First, we will need to obtain, in more concrete terms, commitments from the Japanese on picking up a greater share of the financial burden for regional assistance and redressing the imbalance of our bilateral balance of payments. Secondly, we will need to work out a formula for tidying over [Page 213]the difficult territorial issues. The Japanese apparently recognize that we are not now in a position to make any firm commitment on reversion of the Ryukyus, but they want a “step forward”—the terms of which are still to be worked out. The Japanese would, however, like a commitment on the early return of the Bonins, an issue still to be resolved within our Government.4

James Walker 5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 JAPAN. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Sneider; cleared by Berger.
  2. Neither the President nor Rusk attended this meeting. (Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary, and ibid., Rusk Appointment Books, 1967) President Johnson was given a copy of this document along with a concise summary of its contents prepared by Alfred Jenkins. (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Japan, Visit of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, November 14–15, 1967)
  3. Sato traveled throughout Southeast Asia during the autumn. In addition, Miki spoke before the America-Japan Society in Tokyo on October 5, giving what the Embassy characterized as perhaps the “most forthright public statement to date from high GOJ official in support U.S. policy in Vietnam.” The Embassy continued by noting that Miki’s speech coupled with Sato’s supportive comments during his visit to Bangkok elevated the Japanese position toward the Vietnam war to “new high level of moral support.” (Telegram 2300 from Tokyo, October 5; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15–1 JAPAN) Telegram 2289 from Tokyo, October 5, contains the complete text of Miki’s speech. (Ibid., POL 1 JAPAN–US)
  4. The resolution of the reversion issue generated several high-level meetings and various proposals and discussions in an effort to work out differences between diplomatic and military interests and between U.S. and Japanese positions. Documents tracing the evolution of decisions and agreements on that and other issues prepared in advance of the Sato visit are ibid., POL JAPAN–US, ibid., POL 7 JAPAN–US, ibid., POL 17 JAPAN–US, ibid., POL 18 RYU IS, and ibid., POL 19 BONIN IS; and Washington National Records Center, OSD/OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330 72 A 2468, Okinawa, 323.3, ibid., FRC 71 A 4546, 333 Bonin Islands; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Japan, Vols. VI and VII, ibid., Visit of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, November 14–15, 1967, ibid., Country File—Addendum, Japan, and ibid., Meeting Notes File, November 4, 1967—Meeting with Foreign Policy Advisers.
  5. Walker signed for Read above Read’s typed signature.