108. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Nobuhiko Ushiba, Ambassador of Japan
  • Yukio Satoh, Second Secretary, Japanese Embassy
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • John H. Holdridge, Senior Staff Member, NSC


  • Mr. Kissinger’s Discussion with Ambassador Ushiba on Preparations for the Meeting Between the President and Prime Minister Sato at San Clemente

After a brief exchange between Ambassador Ushiba and Mr. Kissinger concerning the Bermuda talks, Ambassador Ushiba remarked that Mr. Kissinger had been getting a bad press over the situation in the sub-continent. The line had been that both the Indians and the Soviets had gained. Mr. Kissinger asserted that the Administration’s policy would prove to be essentially correct. If we had been neutral, the Indians would have attacked West Pakistan as well. As for the role of the Soviets, the Indians had no interest in being a Soviet satellite, and would come back. As had happened with respect to Secretary Connally, who had been criticized for being too harsh, our policy would pay off with results. We had had the choice between letting India destroy the whole country, or of saying what we had said. Mr. Kissinger stressed again that the Indians had no interest in being a Soviet satellite.

Turning to the subject of the San Clemente meeting, Mr. Kissinger passed to Ambassador Ushiba a suggestion which had been made personally by the President. Assuming that the San Clemente talks would end around noon on the 7th of January, the President thought that if Prime Minister Sato so desired the President would invite the Prime Minister and a few others of his party to fly with him to Palm Springs that afternoon. The President had in mind that Foreign Minister Fukuda, Ambassador Ushiba, and the Finance Minister might accompany Prime Minister Sato. On our side would be Secretary Rogers, Secretary Connally, and perhaps Mr. Kissinger himself.

They would go to the home of Ambassador Annenberg, play two foursomes of golf, have a friendly working dinner followed by a social [Page 367] evening, and leave the morning of the 8th. Mr. Kissinger remarked that the Annenberg estate was a beautiful place—very big, and very well arranged.

At this, Ambassador Ushiba wondered what kind of business Ambassador Annenberg was engaged in. Mr. Kissinger explained that Ambassador Annenberg was the owner and publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was a very rich man. Mr. Kissinger went on to note that the President’s thought in inviting Prime Minister Sato to a nice social affair of this sort was that it would provide the Prime Minister with something extra which had not been given to the other heads of state or government. It would make the Prime Minister the only head of government with whom the President had ever played golf. Mr. Kissinger indicated that it was an easy flight over from San Clemente, and the party could either be brought back that night or stay over until the next day. This question could be settled later.

Ambassador Ushiba termed the President’s invitation “very interesting.” Mr. Kissinger said that it showed the President’s personal touch. As another example, the dinner on the first night of the talks would be in the President’s private house. It would be a small, private affair due to the smallness of the dining room. The President was trying in this way to show his close connections with the Japanese.

Ambassador Ushiba asked, would the President talk to Prime Minister Sato alone? Mr. Kissinger replied affirmatively, adding that he himself was usually present. If this was the case, one additional person from the Japanese side could be present. Ambassador Ushiba queried whether this additional person might be Foreign Minister Fukuda, to which Mr. Kissinger stated that Foreign Minister Fukuda should talk to Secretary Rogers, who would be present in San Clemente for this purpose. The additional Japanese could be an aide to the Prime Minister. Ambassador Ushiba noted that in such an event Prime Minister Sato might appoint him, Ambassador Ushiba. However, this could embarrass the American side with respect to the U.S. Ambassador in Tokyo. Mr. Kissinger expressed confidence that the Japanese could find someone appropriate, although depending on who was named he personally might not sit in. Ambassador Ushiba asked if Mr. Kissinger did, in fact, usually sit in, to which Mr. Kissinger replied, “yes,” because he knew the details. Ambassador Ushiba said that when he returned from his visit to Tokyo he would bring back a suggestion.

Mr. Kissinger indicated that the Japanese Finance Minister would meet with Secretary Connally, and Foreign Minister Fukuda with Secretary Rogers. Ambassador Ushiba pointed out that in addition to the Japanese Finance Minister, their Minister of International Trade and Industry would also be attending. In that case, Mr. Kissinger stated, both could talk to Secretary Connally. Ambassador Kennedy was also [Page 368] coming, and could sit in with Secretary Connally. Secretary Rogers would bring Marshall Green.

Mr. Kissinger asked, how many thousands of press people were the Japanese bringing? Ambassador Ushiba jokingly referred to possibly two or three thousand. More seriously, he speculated that there might be around 70 Japanese reporters. A large group would be coming with the Prime Minister, and some might join from Washington. He anticipated far more problems in taking care of these press people than he did with the official party.

Ambassador Ushiba wondered, while the President was talking to the Prime Minister, would the others be sitting in another room? Mr. Kissinger replied that the President would probably talk to the Prime Minister in his own house, and the others would meet outside. Ambassador Ushiba was familiar with the layout: there were plenty of meeting rooms which could serve. If any problems arose in the President’s conversations with Prime Minister Sato, the others could come over. There would also be one plenary session of about a half hour at the end in which everybody would join.

Ambassador Ushiba asked for confirmation that the President would first greet everybody, which would be followed by expert discussions, and then by a final meeting. Would the U.S. Ambassador from Tokyo be present? Mr. Kissinger replied affirmatively to both questions. Ambassador Ushiba speculated that the agenda for the San Clemente talks might include U.S.-Japanese commercial problems, China, the USSR, and a review of the Asian situation, particularly the India-Pakistan conflict.

Mr. Kissinger asked, what was Ambassador Ushiba’s view of the India-Pakistan conflict? Ambassador Ushiba replied that the Japanese were firmly of the opinion that it was not right for one country to try to destroy another by stirring up an insurgency within its borders and then extending help from outside. That was why Japan had cooperated with the UN resolution on the situation. Ambassador Ushiba expressed the view that the Security Council session had concluded with “some honor.” Mr. Kissinger felt that there had not been too much honor—the way the UN was going it had become a means of legitimizing an accomplished fact. It was helping the aggressor, and that was the reason we had taken our own position. Mr. Kissinger told Ambassador Ushiba not to worry about the Indians, who didn’t want India to be a satellite. He remarked wryly that the Indians had bought $300 million worth of Soviet weapons while we had given them $10 billion in aid. They would come back to us because their new satellite (Bangla Desh) would be a nightmare. If the Indians held on to it, it would be very expensive; if they gave it independence, it would become a hotbed of radicalism.

Ambassador Ushiba mentioned that the Soviets in a brief period had gained influence, and might be able to get naval bases in the Indian [Page 369] Ocean. Mr. Kissinger agreed that there had been some gains, but we would have to see how permanent these were. Ambassador Ushiba asked, didn’t Mr. Kissinger see India falling into Soviet hands? Mr. Kissinger said he did not. What had happened would be healthy for the Indians, who had treated our aid like a regular part of their budget. Now, however, India had to ask itself what the U.S. attitude would be. Six months from now the Indian attitude would be much healthier and better.

Ambassador Ushiba asked Mr. Kissinger how he thought the Chinese had come out of the situation. According to Mr. Kissinger, they had come out weaker than the world had expected. Ambassador Ushiba surmised that the Russians had been trying hard to humiliate the Chinese, and Mr. Kissinger declared that they had done so indirectly. From this, Ambassador Ushiba asked, had Mr. Kissinger’s evaluation of China changed any? Mr. Kissinger replied no, not in the long term. He had told the Ambassador for months what our evaluation of China was, and the Ambassador wouldn’t believe him. The Ambassador would see that there was no chance of our moving our emphasis in our relations from Tokyo to Peking. Indeed, it was more likely for the Japanese to do this than the Americans. For ourselves, we had wanted over the long term to have some relationship with the Chinese, but the short term was not affected. We were prepared to be very frank in our discussions of China at San Clemente, but we had to be sure to find a way for whoever kept tabs on the press for the Prime Minister not to talk. This, Ambassador Ushiba believed, could be done.

Ambassador Ushiba asked, was there any possibility that in the President’s discussions with the Chinese he would ask if Peking was ready to talk with Taiwan? Mr. Kissinger said that he was not going to get into the details of the Taiwan question; these details could be looked into in San Clemente. We could make an agreement between ourselves that we would do nothing surprising with respect to Taiwan.

Ambassador Ushiba brought up the newspaper stories to the effect that the U.S. would be withdrawing forces from Taiwan before the President’s talks in Peking. Mr. Kissinger declared that we were not going to withdraw any forces before the talks, and not necessarily after them. No forces had been withdrawn since he, Mr. Kissinger, had been in Peking. Besides, Taiwan wasn’t being defended by the U.S. forces stationed there. Ambassador Ushiba remarked that these forces were symbolic of the U.S. defense commitment. Mr. Kissinger indicated that these forces were mostly for intelligence, logistics, and similar functions.

Ambassador Ushiba said that, moving on to more practical affairs, Okinawa had to be included on the agenda for San Clemente. Mr. Kissinger asked jokingly if the Japanese wanted to give it back to us [Page 370] already? Ambassador Ushiba observed that there were two points which the Japanese would want to cover. First, they would want to see the reversion date for Okinawa moved up from July 1, which was the date the U.S. had in mind. This point had already been raised with Ambassador Johnson. Mr. Kissinger said that we would look into this matter.

Continuing, Mr. Kissinger noted that we now had settled textiles and currency problems, and he thought that we should settle the issue of short-term trade before the San Clemente talks so that there would be nothing emerging from them suggesting a short-term hassle. Ambassador Ushiba could be assured that if this were done, we would do something with respect to Okinawa. We would look into such matters as the size of our bases along the lines of the President’s conversation with Mr. Kishi. The details could be looked into.

Ambassador Ushiba raised the question of a joint communiqué—would there be one? Mr. Kissinger said this was up to the Japanese. What did Ambassador Ushiba think? Ambassador Ushiba thought that it would be better not to have one, since it might create problems. However, this was up to the Prime Minister, and he personally didn’t know. He would ask in Tokyo. Mr. Kissinger recalled that we had had a joint communiqué with the French and the British; however he didn’t know whether we would have one with the Germans or not. Again, it was up to the Japanese and we didn’t care one way or the other.

Ambassador Ushiba speculated that the Prime Minister might wish to bring up something he wanted the President to tell the Chinese in Peking. He wasn’t sure about this, though. Mr. Kissinger emphasized that our intention was to have this a warm, successful meeting symbolizing the enormous attention which we paid to Japan. This was the spirit in which we approached the meeting. It would be the last big meeting before the President’s Peking trip, and would leave no doubt as to who our friends were in the Pacific. Ambassador Ushiba thanked Mr. Kissinger for these words.

Mr. Kissinger received confirmation from Ambassador Ushiba that Prime Minister Sato would be arriving in El Toro on the 5th of January. He suggested it to the Ambassador that they might meet together for lunch at San Clemente on the 4th. Learning that Ambassador Ushiba would be back in Washington from Tokyo on December 30, Mr. Kissinger then suggested that the two get together for lunch in Washington on January 3 at 12:30 p.m. This wouldn’t be as good a luncheon as Ambassador Ushiba had given him. Ambassador Ushiba expressed the hope that he could invite Mr. Kissinger to the Embassy for dinner prior to the Peking trip. Mr. Kissinger could bring two beautiful ladies.

On his way out of Mr. Kissinger’s office, Ambassador Ushiba expressed some concern over Mr. Kissinger’s recommendation that the [Page 371] trade issue be settled prior to Prime Minister Sato’s meeting with the President. Mr. Kissinger reiterated as his “strong suggestion” that this indeed be done. In the first instance, the 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. It would be much better if the President could treat Okinawa as a matter entirely unrelated to trade, since he could then make some moves on Okinawa purely as a warm gesture of friendship. Mr. Kissinger gave his personal assurances that the President would in fact act in this way. The Japanese did not need to offer too much; even some fairly limited moves would do. Ambassador Ushiba said that he would pass this on to Prime Minister Sato, bearing very much in mind what Mr. Kissinger had just said about how far Japan needed to go. Mr. Kissinger clarified his position by noting that the Japanese measures would of course have to be of some significance.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, VIP Visits, Box 925, Japan, Sato (San Clemente) Jan 72, [2 of 2]. Secret; Sensitive. Holdridge sent the memorandum under a December 29 covering memorandum; Kissinger subsequently approved the memorandum. (Ibid.)