71. Editorial Note

On August 21, 1971, Henry Kissinger met with Japanese Ambassador Ushiba in San Clemente. Ushiba was en route to Tokyo for consultations. In an August 19 briefing memorandum for this meeting, Holdridge and Hormats told Kissinger of Japanese concern about the 10 percent import surcharge and the suspension of gold convertibility the President had announced in his New Economic Policy address on August 15 (see Document 168). The memorandum noted that Ambassador Ushiba would want assurances that the President’s economic measures, especially the surcharge, were not intended to discriminate against Japan. In an August 21 cover note on the memorandum, Colman informed Kissinger that Ushiba might mention that the administration was considering an exemption for Canada from the surcharge. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files—Far East, Box 536, Japan Volume V 7/71-9/71)

The memorandum of the August 21 conversation indicates that except for a discussion of textiles, economic issues hardly arose. On textiles Kissinger said he did not know where the textile negotiations, which bored him, stood. Ambassador Ushiba said he would be the point of contact for private communications with Prime Minister Sato. Later in the conversation Kissinger said he knew nothing about economics and thought economic leaders were usually “political idiots.” (Ibid.)