411. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State 1

9356. Subj: Chirep: PriMin Sato Announces Decision to Cosponsor.

Summary: At dramatic press conference arranged only minutes beforehand, PriMin Sato announced that GOJ would cosponsor reverse IQ and complex dual rep resolutions.2 End Summary.

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In response to questions at impromptu news conference covered on national television at 11:30 a.m. Sept 22 PriMin explained his decision on cosponsorship as follows:
More and more countries are recognizing “People’s Republic of China”, and it can be foreseen that even more will do so in future. At present, 60 UN members recognize PRC and 57 UN members recognize GRC. Thus situation has changed completely, and we must have policy suited to changed realities. Therefore at this juncture we wish to invite PRC to UN and provide it seat as permanent member of Security Council. Simultaneously, based on our support of UN Charter, we believe expulsion of GRC is important matter which should require two-thirds majority. As opinions within party and government have been divided and as Japan, in contrast to US, is Asian neighbor of China, it has been necessary to act with great care and I have had difficulty reaching decision. I believe our policy must (1) suit Japan’s national interest, (2) be consistent with our one China policy—there is not one mainland China and one Taiwan but only one China—(3) avoid aggravating international tensions and (4) be in step with changing realities. It seems that appropriate policy is to support and to cosponsor complex DR and reverse IQ resolutions. In accordance with premise that China is one, this policy is transitional measure. As it recognizes present realities and does not attempt to change them, it will not aggravate international tension.
Question has been discussed freely within party and government; all have had opportunity to express their views. Majority opinion seems to be that Peking should be welcomed into UN, offered permanent seat on Security Council and that GRC’s position in UN should be preserved. Once that major decision made, I hope it will be understood that issue of cosponsorship is secondary, tactical question. Cosponsorship is consistent with our policy of support for these resolutions.
Today’s announcement is not just step forward, but actually great leap forward in our China policy. While recognizing existence of PRC, we have until now avoided referring to it directly and have sought to deal with it through a policy of separating economics and politics. That is now completely changed. This is positive step, and despite opposition, I as PriMin and party leader have made decision. However, it should not be thought that this will solve our bilateral problems, or that it is equivalent to recognizing or establishing relations with PRC. Some even more positive act will be required for that. We must work to build friendly relations with China, reflect upon our past history, recognize that deep misunderstandings exist and strive to build mutual understanding.
Should this approach at UN fail, question of political responsibility is complex one because outcome is determined by majority will in international forum. Thus it is not just the responsibility of a single Prime Minister or a particular Cabinet.
In front page commentary, all evening newspapers stressed fact that PriMins’ decision on cosponsorship was made despite strong opposition even within LDP and Cabinet. Asahi, Sankei and Tokyo Shim-bun stressed that there is strong possibility that Sato Cabinet would be forced to resign if resolutions should fail at UN, particularly since vote in UN will take place during Diet session.
[sic] Comment. In deciding to cosponsor both resolutions, despite strong opposition within the LDP, Sato has made courageous decision calculated to demonstrate that he is strong leader who has grasped helm of his party and government. Sato acted in dramatic fashion by calling impromptu nationally-televised press conference solely for purpose of announcing major policy decision. Although he appeared somewhat fatigued, his manner was confident and resolute throughout.
Form and content of announcement designed to appeal directly through television to wider public audience in order win understanding for and defuse criticism of his decision. As the substance of the decision pleased pro-Taiwan elements, logic of his argument was shaped to appeal to opponents of resolution and cosponsorship. He portrayed decision as a major positive change in GOJs’ approach to China, and as consistent with international trend towards bringing China into UN. He repeatedly used formal title “People’s Republic of China” and emphasized that decision was fully consistent with GOJs’ “longstanding” one China policy. He admitted Japan must self-reflect about its pre-war relations with China. For other listeners, he reiterated standard phrases about Japan’s national interests and relaxation of international tensions. He avoided references to maintenance of international faith toward Taiwan and reality of two regimes in China—comments which would have given opponents handle for criticizing his logic.
Nowhere in statement did Sato refer to fact that US had pressed Japan to cosponsor or imply that this controversial decision was anything other than his own response to international imperatives and Japan’s own national interest.
Deputy Political Editor of Mainichi told Emboff immediately following announcement that consensus among news corps was that Sato by acting decisively and out of obvious personal conviction had applied a temporary brake to his declining power within LDP and to his crumbling prestige elsewhere in Japanese establishment. LDP US Problems Research Committee Chairman Naokichi Kitazawa echoed this appraisal shortly before his departure on mission to US, commenting that while there was still strong disagreement within LDP, Sato had gained full measure of respect for his decision.
There are rumors that Sato has come to tacit agreement with LDP factional leaders who oppose his Chirep policy to effect that he will step down if UN strategy fails. However, until then, as quid proquo, [Page 819]hounds will diminish their baying. This scenario given some credibility by statement by Masayoshi Ohira, one of leading candidates for Sato’s job, that he “not surprised” by PriMins’ decision and that he would “make no fuss” over issue of political responsibility.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 6 CHICOM. Confidential. Repeated to Hong Kong, Taipei, Canberra, Wellington, and USUN.
  2. Other posts were informed of Prime Minister Sato’s announcement in circular telegram 174849, September 22. (Ibid.)