93. Editorial Note

Bilateral trade issues with Japan had not been resolved prior to or during the President’s January 1972 meeting with Prime Minister Sato in San Clemente (see Document 87), and a new drive was underway to conclude the trade negotiations before President Nixon and the new Japanese Prime Minister, Kakuei Tanaka, met in Honolulu August 31-September 1, 1972.

Special Trade Representative Eberle led a U.S. negotiating team to trade bilaterals in Hakone, Japan, that began on July 25. The Japanese team was headed by Kiyohiko Tsurumi, Deputy Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. At the outset of a July 29 meeting with Ambassadors Eberle and Ingersoll, Tanaka said he had just talked with MITI Minister Nakasone and understood the Hakone talks had reached agreement on 60-70 percent of the U.S. expectations. Eberle said the Hakone talks had been “most useful,” but added that a major disappointment had been limited progress on the bilateral trade imbalance. Prime Minister Tanaka indicated that he had already issued instructions that the bilateral imbalance should be reduced to less than $3 billion for the Japanese fiscal year ending March 31, 1973 (a U.S. projection estimated it would be $3.6-3.8 billion). Eberle agreed with Tanaka that the trade balance needed to be viewed in a multilateral context, but added that the imbalance was so large it was a “serious distortion of the total market.”

Tanaka agreed the two sides should expedite discussions in the uranium and aircraft purchase areas, and Eberle added that expert meetings on agriculture, computers, integrated circuits, and the Japanese distribution system were also required. (Memorandum of conversation, July 29; Washington National Records Center, Department of the Treasury, Files of Under Secretary Volcker: FRC 56 79 15, Japan General) During August a number of cables were exchanged between the Department of State and the Embassy in Tokyo as agreements in these and other areas were sought. These telegraphic messages are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files—Far East, Box 538, Japan Volume 8 5-12/72.

On August 10 Ambassador Ingersoll reviewed with Foreign Minister Ohira what he thought should be the trade results at the upcoming meeting in Honolulu between President Nixon and Prime Minister Tanaka. Ingersoll noted that it would be useful for the “President and PM to announce overall package of increased Japanese purchases, perhaps in $700 million-$1 billion range, which might include items such as agriculture, enriched uranium, uranium ore, wide-bodied aircraft, helicopters, and small aircraft.” (Telegram 8543 from Tokyo, August 10; ibid.)

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On August 2 Hormats had sent Kissinger a memorandum apprising him of the outcome of the Hakone negotiations and Eberle’s reading of the political dynamics of the trade issue in Japan. Tanaka was viewed as not fully in control and reportedly did not want MITI Minister Nakasone at the Honolulu meeting where his image might be burnished. Hormats cautioned Kissinger that the trade issues not be over-publicized lest Nakasone’s hand be strengthened and commented that if Tanaka wanted to exclude Nakasone from the Honolulu meeting he might be willing to agree in advance on some issues in Nakasone’s domain. (Ibid., Subject Files, Box 404, Eberle)

On August 9 Hormats sent separate memoranda to Kissinger and Haig regarding the trade negotiations, and that evening Kissinger, Flanigan, Eberle, Haig, Holdridge, and Hormats met to discuss strategy, possible outcomes, and trade-related matters that might arise during Kissinger’s and Holdridge’s forthcoming trips to Japan. The Japanese were to understand that what the United States sought was based on authority at the highest level. Hormats’ memoranda and the memorandum of the August 9 conversation are ibid., Country Files—Far East, Box 538, Japan Volume 8 5-12/72.

The President met with Eberle from 10:42 to 11:09 a.m. on August 14 to discuss U.S.-Japanese trade negotiations, a meeting that included a brief opportunity for members of the press and the White House photographer. Flanigan and Haig were present at the outset, but left at 10:55 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)

On August 16 a White House message to Ingersoll and Holdridge in Tokyo informed them of what Washington agencies understood to be already agreed and what additional measures they sought; see Document 95 and footnote 1 thereto.