23. Editorial Note

Beginning in late April 1969 exchanges of visits and messages between Washington and Tokyo set the stage for the Okinawa reversion negotiations and Japanese Prime Minister Sato’s November 19-21 visit to Washington. U.S. policymakers were determined to keep economic issues on the agenda, but no formal linkage to the Okinawa negotiation and its related nuclear issues was stated.

On April 26 the Embassy in Tokyo transmitted the text of a paper that Fumihiko Togo, Director of the America Bureau in the Foreign Ministry, would use in Washington during his consultations scheduled to begin April 28. On the economic issues Togo’s paper stated: “The current duty of the Japanese government is to … aim at a rational approach to bilateral economic issues … and in keeping with the increase in Japan’s national strength, to fulfill international obligations commensurate with Japan’s status as the leading Asian developed country…. [Japan’s]role should be to progressively assume international political responsibilities, and to contribute actively in the field of economic development.” (Telegram 3311 from Tokyo; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files—Far East, Box 533, Japan, Volume)

Regarding Foreign Minister Kiichi Aichi’s visit to Washington in early June, the Embassy in Tokyo on May 22 reported that Aichi would be prepared to discuss economic aid and bilateral economic problems in the context of Togo’s paper, which had no formal status but was an authoritative reflection of Prime Minister Sato’s views. The Embassy further noted that Aichi and others were of the view that Secretary Stans (who had visited Japan in May) had seemed more interested in liberalization of capital and trade than in the textile problem. Aichi, Togo, and others agreed Japan should move ahead faster on liberalization but would have great difficulty in appearing to move away from liberalization with regard to textiles. Charge Osborn reported that he told the Japanese officials that “Secretary Stans had not given us in the Embassy any impression of being anything but extremely earnest on textiles and quite serious in warning that alternative might be unilateral restrictive action.” (Telegram 4060 from Tokyo; ibid.)

Further to Aichi’s forthcoming visit, the Embassy on May 30 sent a cable reporting Aichi’s plans to adhere to the approach in Togo’s paper, but also indicating that Aichi would say “that Japan intends to assume greater share of own defense burden and to increase economic assistance to other Asian countries.” Aichi reportedly would give Secretary Rogers separate papers outlining Japanese intentions on these two [Page 61] issues. The thrust of the economic paper was said to express “Japanese willingness to increase its overseas aid programs over the next ten years in proportion to the rate of increase in Japan’s national income … [and] to operate through both multilateral (Asian Development Bank, Mekong Development Plan, ASEAN, Consortia, etc.) agencies and bilateral means to assist key countries in Asia (Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Viet-Nam, Indonesia and Thailand).” (Telegram 4325 from Tokyo; ibid.)

At the conclusion of his meeting with Foreign Minister Aichi on June 2, President Nixon noted they had been discussing Okinawa and trade and investment problems in a preliminary way and “asked Aichi to inform Sato that it would be in our interest to try to resolve these when he came to Washington.” The President added that agreement would require additional, preliminary, hard work and that he looked to continuing discussions in Tokyo with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Armin Meyer, in whom the President had earlier told Aichi he had “every confidence;” with Secretary Rogers, who was to travel to Tokyo at the end of July; and with Japanese Ambassador Shimoda in Washington. A copy of the memorandum of conversation is ibid.

Secretaries Rogers and Stans traveled to Tokyo for the seventh meeting of the Joint Japan-U.S. Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs July 29-31. Secretary Rogers had separate meetings with Prime Minister Sato and Foreign Minister Aichi concerning Okinawa. He carried with him a July 22 letter from Nixon to Prime Minister Sato that read in part: “We consider the meetings of Cabinet representatives of our two governments to be a valuable means of reviewing the broad range of our economic activities and seeking ways in which to overcome obstacles to expansion of our large and growing trade and economic relations…. I look forward to seeing you in Washington later this year when we can review problem areas between us and decide how we can achieve further progress toward our common goals.” (Ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 72 D 320, Japan: Nixon to Sato)

During the economic meetings the Japanese side declared its intention to expand substantially economic assistance, particularly for Asia, and to liberalize a considerable part of its remaining import quota restrictions by the end of 1971. The two sides exchanged views on the textile problem and Japan agreed to continue the discussion in September, without committing to any particular course of action. (Ibid., E/CBA/REP Files: Lot 70 D 467, Current Economic Developments, No. 837, August 5, 1969, pages 8-14)

On textiles President Nixon had approved, pursuant to a July 21 Decision Memorandum from Arthur Burns, a policy of attempting to limit growth of textile imports by negotiating comprehensive bilateral [Page 62] agreements with Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (in order to avoid having to enlist European cooperation). (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 399, Textiles, Volume I) By contrast, in his cable to the Embassy in Tokyo reporting on his August 8 luncheon meeting with Japanese Ambassador Shimoda upon the latter’s return from the July economic conference, Under Secretary U. Alexis Johnson reported that Shimoda said it would be easier for Japan to do something on textiles within the GATT framework than bilaterally. Responding to Shimoda’s question about a connection between economic issues and Okinawa, Johnson said “that while matters were, of course, separate and we would continue to deal with them separately there was no getting around fact that Japan’s ‘image’ here, and especially in the Congress, was much affected by Japan’s posture on economic matters and, accordingly, this influenced attitudes in Congress on Okinawa.” (Telegram 133630 to Tokyo, August 9; ibid., Country Files—Far East, Box 533, Japan, Volume I)

In drafting the joint communique for the November 19-21 meetings between President Nixon and Prime Minister Sato in Washington, the Japanese side sought to have it deal only with Okinawa while the U.S. side thought other items on the agenda, including trade, foreign assistance, and textiles, should be included. An exchange of cables between the Department of State and the Embassy in Tokyo regarding the communique language is ibid., Box 534, Japan, Volume II, 10/69-6/70. The joint statement issued on November 21 has Okinawa as its primary focus, but also dealt with other matters, including trade liberalization and foreign assistance. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard M. Nixon, 1969, pages 953-957. The communique did not mention textiles, however, despite Japan’s agreement to hold secret bilateral talks as a precursor to efforts to negotiate a multilateral agreement. Prime Minister Sato had “stressed it would put his government in a very difficult position if it became public knowledge that bilateral talks had been going on between U.S. and Japan before multilateral talks got underway.” (Telegram 9407 from Tokyo, November 12; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files—Far East, Box 534, Japan, Volume II 10/69-6/70)