26. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Your Meetings with Prime Minister Sato

1. Schedule:

Prime Minister Sato will be meeting with you from November 19–21. He actually arrived in Washington on November 17, but the official visit begins with arrival ceremonies on November 19 at 10:00 a.m. You are scheduled to meet privately with him thereafter for several hours, host a dinner for him that evening, and meet again with him for a second full session at 10:00 a.m., November 20, and briefly at 11:00 a.m., November 21.

Two special events are scheduled for you and Sato. After the first session on November 19, you will both be presented with medallions and books by the President of the Japanese-American Citizens League, [Page 76] marking the hundredth anniversary of Japanese migration to the U.S. On November 20, you and Sato will view a model of the U.S. pavilion at the forthcoming Osaka exposition. This will consume the first 10 minutes of the second day’s substantive schedule. Both of these events make good copy and are useful reminders of the closeness of our relations.

2. Background and Objectives:

Sato, whom you know from previous contacts, has been generally cooperative and understanding of U.S. viewpoints. He has been Prime Minister for five years and is in a strong political position. With a general election coming up early next year, his two main political problems are Okinawa reversion and student violence, but so far he seems to have handled both to the satisfaction of most Japanese. Japan is enjoying its fourth straight year of record-breaking economic prosperity.

Importance of Visit

—Healthy U.S.-Japan relations over the near future will probably depend on solution of the reversion issue.

—Early solution of the Okinawa problem should provide greater assurance of the long-term viability of our bases in Japan and Okinawa.

—Resolution of our textile problem with Japan is essential.

—Since Japan is clearly the major Asian power, effective Japanese-United States cooperation is an essential element in all our plans for the defense and development of the region.

—Cooperation with Japan on our policies toward Asia—economic aid, China policy,2 Sino-Soviet difficulties, and post-Vietnam actions—is highly desirable.

—The Japanese should better understand that the reciprocity of our economic relationship must be improved by a reduction of Japan’s trade surplus with the world and with the United States. Reciprocity includes Japanese agreement to accelerate the removal of its restrictions against imports and direct investment from the United States.3 Such actions would contribute greatly to sound U.S.-Japan relations.

What Sato wants

—Agreement on nuclear-free return of Okinawa to Japanese administrative control by 1972 on the “homeland” basis (i.e., same as [Page 77] Japan) of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is Sato’s major objective. He feels this will cement Japan’s ties with the U.S., justify the pro-U.S. path he has steadily followed (including continuation of the Security Treaty), and provide his party with a platform on which to run an election.

—Although Sato understands the problem of textile restraint, he has up until now not fully comprehended the need to reduce Japan’s trade and payments surpluses.4 He also has not fully comprehended the urgency for liberalization of Japan’s trade and investment restrictions. The commitments made by his secret emissary suggest, however, that he will take positive steps to remedy this situation.

What We Want

—The right terms on Okinawa are essential if we are to agree to its return. Although we would prefer ironclad assurances giving us free conventional use after reversion of our bases in Okinawa, we feel the assurances we now have are adequate and that Sato has gone as far as he can in a public statement.

—[1 paragraph (4 lines) not declassified]

—Another element in the Okinawa negotiations is compensation by Japan for certain U.S. assets on Okinawa to be taken over by Japan.5 Satisfactory agreement on the amount and general principles applying to such compensation has already been reached.

—Japanese agreement in principle to restrain its exports to the United States of synthetic and wool textiles has also been conveyed by Sato’s secret emissary.

—Fuller Japanese awareness that they should assume a larger role in Asia, particularly economic but also political, commensurate with their growing economic strength. We have worked out talking points with Bob McNamara and Alex Johnson.

—Japanese recognition that its large trade and balance of payments surpluses with the world and with the U.S. must be reduced in order to maintain a healthy world economy and to avoid U.S.-Japan frictions. A commitment to accelerate the removal of Japan’s import and capital restrictions was also conveyed by Sato’s secret emissary.

—Japanese agreement to sign the NPT in the near future.6 The Japanese have also indicated through Sato’s secret emissary their intention of signing but not ratifying the NPT.

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Themes to Stress to Sato

—The U.S. military position on Okinawa has been an invaluable contribution to deterrence and of great benefit to Japan.7 It is in both our interests that the U.S. maintain the maximum military capability there.

—Japan as a major economic power must reduce its large trade and balance of payments surpluses. It is also able to do much more to help the economies of developing nations.

We shall provide you each day a copy of this memorandum and the talking points for that day’s meeting. All of the substantive meetings should be restricted to you, Prime Minister Sato and two interpreters, one for each side.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 63, Memcons, Presidential File, 1969. Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. Sent for action. Sent to Nixon under a covering memorandum from Kissinger dated the same day. (Ibid.)
  2. Nixon underlined “China policy” and wrote “1” in the margin next to this sentence.
  3. In this paragraph Nixon underlined “reciprocity of our economic relationship must be improved by a reduction of Japan’s trade surplus with the world and with the United States” and “removal of its restrictions against imports and direct investment from the United States.” He wrote “2” in the margin next to this paragraph.
  4. Nixon underlined “need to reduce Japan’s trade and payments surpluses.”
  5. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  6. Nixon underlined “sign the NPT in the near future.”
  7. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.