350. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Nobosuke Kishi—Former Prime Minister of Japan
  • Ambassador Robert Murphy

In response to Kishi’s initiative about China (a subject in which Kishi obviously takes a very deep interest), Ambassador Murphy reviewed the situation at the UN in terms of the probability that the old formula of IQ vs Albanian resolution would fail next year for certain, if not this year. Thus, it is essential to develop strategy which would meet the desire of the majority of UN members that Peking not be excluded, but which would also preserve Taipei’s seat. Mr. Kishi agreed with this estimate of the factual situation, and the requirements it presents.

Mr. Kishi stressed throughout his remarks that neither Japan nor the United States could ignore the Peking problem and that both must work seriously for a resolution which did not abandon Taiwan, particularly in view of its strategic position as a link in the offshore island defense line (Okinawa–Taiwan–Philippines) and in view of the vital interests involved. These factors limited our freedom of action, in contrast to Italy and Canada, which had little interest per se, in Taiwan.

Kishi reviewed conversations he had last year in Taipei with Chiang Kai-shek and his Secretary, Chang Chun, both of whom he urged not to walk out of the UN regardless of changes that are made in representation formula. Any premature walk-out would seriously embarrass those who were making a great effort to retain a seat for Taiwan even if Peking were to be admitted. Both Chiang and Chang found these representations unpleasant, and neither agreed. But Kishi said they did listen.

Comment: (Others here closely associated with Taipei have also made this pilgrimage, and Japanese are clearly trying to persuade Chiang not to walk out.)

Kishi expects to continue to thus encourage Chang Chun when he visits Tokyo in July during the Japan/China Economic Cooperation [Page 676]meetings. Moreover, Kishi was thinking of visiting Taiwan again in late summer to press the point.

Kishi, without committing himself on a specific formula, said that while a majority of UN members wished to admit Peking, a majority also could be persuaded not to expel Taipei, a faithful member since the UN’s organization. Kishi then noted his long-standing belief that the UN should reflect the real world. For example, of the “divided states”—China, Korea, Germany, and Vietnam—only the GRC is represented, but ideally all eight should be represented in the UN.

Kishi did not respond to the question of what to do about China’s Security Council seat, nor did he discuss specifically whether Chiang might be tempted to walk out, although it was clear from his earlier remarks that he considers it essential to forestall this.

Although he had not previously considered it, Kishi agreed that the timing of Peking’s ping-pong diplomacy might well have something to do with Chou En-lai’s visit to Hanoi. However, information available to him indicated that the Chinese and Soviets, despite efforts to paper over their differences, have split even more deeply in recent months. Thus, China would seem to be trying to counter-balance improvements in US-Soviet and Soviet-Japanese relations in order to fend off Soviet pressures.

Most of all, however, Kishi vehemently stated that Chou’s purpose was to divide opinion and split Japan in two, setting people against government, just as he was seeking to do in the United States, by “adding branches and leaves” to the “China mood” tree already present. Further, Chou’s aim is to worsen Japan-US relations. Despite smiling overtures to the American people, Chou and Peking have not relaxed their hostility to the US Government.

China also presents a smiling face to Japanese people and business circles, but continues to treat official Japanese visitors to China with a “high posture” attitude tantamount to interference in Japan’s domestic politics. Kishi commended President Nixon’s recent moves on China. However, the problem, here as in the US, was to avoid being stampeded into precipitate action to improve relations, going as far as recognition, that might sacrifice Taiwan. Progress toward long-term accommodation with mainland China depends on the exercise of cool judgement by leaders of both Japan and the US with respect to timing and extent of such moves.

Domestic pressures of China mood in Japan were similar to those in the US, only much, much worse. He cited, for example, Japan’s leading newspaper, the Asahi, whose nostrums for China policy closely parallel those enunciated by Chou En-lai himself.

Despite Chou’s four principles, big business in Japan maintains an active membership in the Economic Cooperation Committees for both [Page 677]Taiwan and Korea, including New Japan Steel, Mitsubishi and Mitsui, to name a few. Chou applies his four principles rigidly only to those companies which yield to this kind of blackmail, but when necessary, China continues to buy essential products even from companies that reject four principles, as does New Japan Steel. Kishi agreed that these were “four flexible principles”. Moreover, literal acceptance of four principles would require the writing-off of the present great investments by Japan in Taiwan (and Korea, too, for that matter). At present, Kishi said, Japanese big business is following the GOJ lead.

Kishi believed that China’s recent change of face could not have been engineered by Chou En-lai alone, without the assent of Mao and the support of the military. Following the cultural revolution, Kishi felt that Chou was supported closely by the military (and presumably Lin Piao) and thus enjoyed a favorable position in terms of exercising the real power after Mao.

In conclusion, Kishi recalled his conversation with DeGaulle in Paris, two years after France recognized Peking. DeGaulle then denied that la Belle France coveted any petty trade advantages, and had recognized China out of its sincere desire to promote true world peace. In response to Kishi, DeGaulle said that Taiwan was not part of the territory of China recognized by France, and that he would leave its disposition to Japan and the United States. However, Kishi said, the problem was not that simple and our efforts to promote long-term relations with China now turned on whether we could persuade the UN not to expel Taipei to make room for Peking, at the same time persuading Chiang not to abandon the field should this development occur.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Confidential. Drafted by Francis J. McNeil and James J. Wickel. The meeting was held in former Prime Minister Kishi’s office. An attached transmittal memorandum from Executive Secretary Eliot to Kissinger is dated May 5.