99. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1
- The Ryukyu–Bonin Islands and the Sato Visit
As you know a major subject during Prime Minister Sato’s visit in mid-November will be the future status of the Ryukyu and Bonin Islands.
The situation is very fluid in Japan on this subject just now, and Ambassador Johnson is anxious to receive your approval of a U.S. position for purposes of negotiating the Sato visit communiqué.
Essentially, Sato does not want a fight with us on this issue. He is willing to follow our lead within reason, but he needs to know approximately what we are willing to do before he can give the lead in turn to the Japanese. He needs that lead at this point.[Page 214]
At Tab A is a memo from the Secretary of State requesting your approval of a negotiating position in the form of draft language for the Sato visit communiqué (Tab B).2
At Tab C is a proposed telegram to Tokyo explaining our position.
The Secretary’s memo sets forth the issues clearly. I believe it is not essential that you read Tabs B and C at this time.
I recommend that you approve the Secretary’s recommendation in Tab A.
Secretary McNamara has reviewed and approved the recommendation.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Japan, Visit of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, November 14–15, 1967. Secret.↩
- Tabs B and C are attached but not printed.↩
- President Johnson checked this option and added a handwritten note: “Let’s meet on this with JCS spokesman present. L.”↩
- Secret; Nodis. The Department of State copy indicates the memorandum was drafted by Sneider and cleared by Bundy, Aldrich, Macomber, and Halperin. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 JAPAN)↩
- The President neither approved nor disapproved the recommendation.↩
- In telegram 2585 from Tokyo, October 17, U. Alexis Johnson sent Rusk his evaluation of the Bonins issue. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 JAPAN)↩
- In addition, the High Commissioner and the Ambassador approved of political change on the Ryukyus to foster autonomy by agreeing to propose the direct election of the Chief Executive of the Islands. Given the unsettled political atmosphere on the Islands at the time, however, implementation of the change would be postponed to a future, unspecified date. (Telegram from HICOMRY (Naha), October 8, and telegram 2608 from Tokyo, October 10; both ibid., POL 19 RYU IS)↩