87. Editorial Note

As plans went forward for Japanese Prime Minister Sato’s meeting with President Nixon in January 1972, U. Alexis Johnson, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, met with Japanese Ambassador Ushida on December 20, 1971. In a letter to Kissinger the same day, Johnson recounted a few highlights of the meeting relevant to the upcoming Nixon-Sato meeting, including their discussion of the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, the Soviet Union, and Okinawa. Johnson then continued:

“On the question of a further cutback on the Okinawa bases, Sato and Fukuda have the impression, on the basis of Kishi’s talk with the President and Connally’s talk with Sato and Fukuda while in Tokyo, that if they delivered on textiles, monetary reform and trade they could expect some movement on this issue. With their now having delivered on textiles and monetary reform, and what they expect to deliver on trade prior to San Clemente, they will hope for something on the base issue. Fukuda is now concentrating on golf courses and private American beaches and would very much hope to have some word on this prior to San Clemente.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 285, State Volume 13)

President Nixon had met with former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi on October 22 from 3:15 to 4:47 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary). No record of the meeting has been found. The reference to Connally’s talks in Tokyo is to his visit November 11-12; see Document 193. Regarding textiles, an agreement was reached by President Nixon’s October 15 target date; see footnote 2, Document 77. Documentation on the textile agreement is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume IV.

Johnson’s December 20 letter continued:

Sato very much hopes to avoid trade issues at San Clemente. Tokyo would probably have been willing to give a little more on this if it had been necessary to achieve agreement at this weekend’s Washington Group Ten meeting. However, as Japan gave more on the monetary side than it had expected to give, MITI and agriculture were able to prevent further Japanese trade concessions. Both Mizuta (Minister of Finance) and Ushiba are convinced that even though the monetary issue was settled, Japan has a ‘moral obligation’ to do more on trade.”

In preparation for the President’s meeting with Sato, Kissinger met with Ambassador Ushiba in Washington on December 22, prior to the latter’s traveling to Tokyo. Kissinger told Ushiba that the short-term trade issues should be settled before the President and Prime Minister met. When Ushiba expressed concern, Kissinger informed him that “the [Page 216] President did not like to discuss economic matters, and in addition, injecting trade into the discussions at San Clemente would make it appear to an undesirable extent that Japan had offered something on trade and had received something in return, e.g., concessions regarding Okinawa.” Kissinger said the “Japanese do not need to offer too much; even some fairly limited moves would do.” Ushiba said he would take it up with the Prime Minister. (Memorandum of conversation, December 22; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, VIP Visits, Box 925, Japan-Sato San Clemente January 1972)

Following his return to Washington, Ambassador Ushiba met with Special Trade Representative Eberle. In a January 3, 1972, memorandum to Kissinger, Hormats reported that MITI Minister Tanaka planned to discuss trade issues with U.S. representatives in San Clemente with the hope of concluding an agreement that would not be made public until after the meeting to avoid any connection with the Okinawa agreement. The Japanese then wanted no additional trade bilaterals for at least a year to keep friction out of the relationship and wanted further trade discussions to be in a multilateral context. (Ibid.)

In his January 4 briefing memorandum for the President on the upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Sato, Kissinger noted that “the major frictions that have afflicted our relations with Japan in the past year appear to have bottomed out. Textiles are solved, the monetary system is realigned, and arrangements on Japanese trade liberalization should be completed before or during the San Clemente talks.” Regarding the latter, Kissinger noted: “you will not need to touch it except in general terms.” (Ibid.)

Japanese Prime Minister Sato met with President Nixon January 6-7, 1972, in San Clemente. The memoranda of the President’s conversations with the Prime Minister indicate that aside from brief interventions on defense burdensharing and Japan’s intention to increase its foreign economic assistance, the two heads of government did not discuss bilateral economic issues.

In a discussion with Sato of present and future high-level talks, the President and Kissinger noted that some European issues were different from U.S. issues with Japan, but the President said, “we must look at the world as a whole … in viewing the Free World, the great economic powers, the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France and possibly Canada, must consult closely if we are to build a stable and productive Free World economy with trade and monetary stability … the development of a 5-power consultative process (adding Italy, perhaps, and Canada) would not only serve the needs of the Free World, but would also contribute to the development of cohesion in policy for handling all the difficult political and security problems that arise.” Prime Minister Sato supported the concept of a five-power conference as suggested by [Page 217] the President and, perhaps with the addition of Canada and Italy, saw no need to involve other countries. The records of the discussions are in memoranda for the President’s file, January 6 and 7; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, VIP Visits, Box 925, Japan-Sato San Clemente January 1972.

During more than 5 hours of conversations on January 6 and 7 with MITI Minister Tanaka and Finance Minister Mizuta, Secretaries Connally and Stans and Ambassador Eberle made it clear that Tanaka expected the trade negotiations to be completed by Eberle and Ushiba in Washington on January 12. Tanaka indicated he was prepared to discuss other issues, but not agriculture, which Ushiba would have to address on January 12. Pressed by Connally, Tanaka put a proposal on the table that Connally and Stans found disappointing. Connally noted that negotiations with the Canadians were going well and the United States anticipated significant concessions from the EC. “We were not asking more from Japan than we were looking for from others.” (Memoranda of conversation, January 6 and 7; Washington National Records Center, Department of the Treasury, Files of Under Secretary Volcker: FRC 56 79 15, San Clemente Talks with Tanaka—1/72)