21. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Trezise) to the Under Secretary of State (Richardson)1


  • How Do We Live with Japan?—INFORMATION MEMORANDUM

1. This morning you suggested that Secretary Stans’ rather abrasive public statement about Japan might be helpful, in the particular sense that he was casting himself in the role of the “heavy” in a difficult negotiation.2 I agreed, and agree, with you on the narrow point. In a larger perspective, I believe that the Stans’ approach, if we accept it as good practice, could be disastrous for us.

2. Let us ask ourselves whether Secretary Stans would have used similar language, and taken equal liberties in interpreting events, if the other party had been the UK? Or Germany? Or Holland? Or any other country with which we have nominally friendly relationships?

3. I think that we may make a grievous and unrecoverable mistake if we suppose that the Japanese are less sensitive than anyone else to public heavy handedness. Among the origins of World War II, if we will only remember, was the Immigration Act of 1923 and its overt discrimination against Japanese emigrants to the United States. The war itself, and the events of its final days, inescapably left psychological as well as physical scars in Japan. The Japanese have a term, “war losers” which is used only in their private conversations; it incorporates a large element of self-pity, but self-pity is of course the reciprocal of resentment. Differential treatment of Japan inescapably must work on this basic residue of attitudes toward the war winners.

4. There are other reasons—racial and historical—why we should be wary of believing that Japanese are readier to be treated with contumely than ordinary people. I need not go into these, but they are real enough, as I imagine that EA would agree. In my own experience, I have not noticed that our interests in Japan have been better served [Page 69] when we have questioned in public Japanese good faith than when we have pursued more customary and civilized methods of discussion and negotiations.

5. I am led to write this note because Secretary Stans is playing with the idea of encouraging the Hill to give us legislation which would impose quotas at 1966 import levels unless the President succeeded in negotiating “voluntary” restraints. When I asked him if he thought Harold Wilson or Tony Crosland would negotiate at this kind of gunpoint, he said no, that the bill would have to exclude European exports. Well, maybe Mr. Sato would be willing to swallow his pride and accept the public humiliation that would be involved. I doubt it. But if he did, elementary self respect would dictate that he get revenge as soon and as plainly as possible and I wonder if we would want to have things go that way. (I have said as much and maybe more to Secretary Stans and to Arthur Burns).

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 JAPAN. Confidential; Exdis. Richardson readdressed this memorandum to the Secretary in the “To” line.
  2. Trezise is apparently referring to an interview that Stans gave to the Japanese press corps on September 23, when Stans said that the Japanese negotiating posture on textiles was unsatisfactory, and that this deadlock was damaging the U.S.-Japanese relationship. Excerpts from Stans’ press conference are available in Kei Wakaizumi’s The Best Course Available: A Personal Account of the Secret U.S.-Japan Okinawa Reversion Negotiations (University of Hawai’i Press, 2002), pp. 168–170.