98. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
[Omitted here are Section I on Purpose, Section II.A, Background, and subsections II.A.1, II.A.2, and II.A.3 on Reaffirmation of the Alliance, Japan’s Normalization of Relations with the PRC, and US China Policy, respectively.]
4. US-Japan Bilateral Economic Relations. Although Japanese leaders now recognize Japan’s major responsibility for reducing the massive trade deficit, they are reluctant to commit themselves to the kind of decisive, short-term ameliorative action we want. They fall back rather on projections that Japan’s new economic recovery supplemented by Japanese government fiscal policy and other economic trends now underway will resolve the problem in about two years.
The problem at Honolulu will depend on the progress made in our current economic negotiations following up on Eberle’s meetings in Hakone and Ingersoll’s discussions preparatory to Honolulu. In these the Japanese are moving to develop a concrete package to meet the Tanaka Government commitment to reduce to below $3 billion the trade deficit by the end of this Japanese Fiscal Year (next March 31). There is greater reluctance to commit Japan to another billion reduction by the end of the following JFY.
We understand that the Tanaka Government’s inability to agree at Hakone, and subsequently, on additional measures to reduce the trade [Page 252]gap further has probably been due to the unexpectedly strong resistance of mid-level bureaucrats in the economic ministries. These officials are loyal to Japanese business and industry interests. Nevertheless, past experience has indicated that we can be most effective by pressing the Japanese Government quietly but firmly to specific commitments that are politically feasible for it domestically. Indeed, US pressure is one of the most effective levers available to a Japanese Prime Minister and the Foreign Office to use with recalcitrant economic bureaucrats. Tanaka, with his currently strong political position (he is supported by over 70% of the people in opinion polls) is by virtue of this and his decisive temperament in a position to use such leverage.
[Omitted here are sections on Participants, Press Plans, and the Schedule.]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, VIP Visits, Box 926, Tanaka Visit 31 Aug-1 Sept. Top Secret; Sensitive. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.↩
- Secret; Sensitive. Tabs A-I are attached to Kissinger’s memorandum. The others are: A. Talking Points; B. Japan’s Normalization of Relations with the PRC; D. Korean Peninsula; E. Relations with the Soviet Union; F. US Military Presence in Japan; G. Biography of Tanaka; H. Memorandum to you from Secretary Rogers; and I. Memorandum to You from Secretary Laird.↩
- See Document 96. Brackets in the source text.↩
- The trade package was announced at the conclusion of the talks in Honolulu on September 1. See Department of State Bulletin, September 25, 1972, pp. 332-333.↩
- No separate press release has been found. The Joint Statement is printed ibid., pp. 331-332.↩
- These three objectives were affirmed in the Joint Statement.↩
- Brackets in the source text.↩
- See Document 97. Brackets in the source text.↩