42. Editorial Note

On March 9, 1970, the President’s Special Counsel, Harry Dent, sent a memorandum to both the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger and Secretary of Commerce Stans that reported that the leaders of the U.S. textile industry refused to accept the selective, as opposed to comprehensive, restrictions that the Japanese government was offering in the textile negotiations. Dent declared that the textile leaders “have just run out of patience with and faith in the Japanese,” and would begin lobbying to restrict textile imports unless they received evidence that the President would act to protect their interests. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 924, VIP Visits, Sato Visit, Vol. II, (Textiles) [2 of 3]) C. Fred Bergsten of the NSC staff sent this memorandum to Kissinger under a March 10 covering memorandum, advising Kissinger to inform Dent that President Nixon should not “be put under pressure to support legislative quotas until we have had further time to pursue the matter with the Japanese.” Kissinger approved this recommendation. (Ibid.) Bergsten followed up this memorandum with another, 2 days later, warning that Presidential support for quota legislation on imported textiles “would be a disaster—in both foreign policy and domestic political terms.” (Ibid., Box 399, Subject Files, Textiles, Vol. I)

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Wilbur Mills submitted a bill to Congress on April 13, 1970, to institute quotas on cotton, wool, and synthetic textiles. Bergsten informed Kissinger of Mills’ action in an April 17 memorandum. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Box 43, [EX] CO 75, 1/1/70, 1 of 3) On May 2 Mills and Representative John Byrnes met with Secretary of Commerce Stans. According to Stans’ memorandum of conversation, Mills said that he “felt committed to the textile industry to secure restrictions on imports of wool and manmade fiber textiles and apparel.” He planned “to introduce textile import legislation which might encourage exporting countries to cooperate with our efforts to secure a multilateral agreement,” and hoped to do so before May 9, when Mills left on a trade mission to the Far East. (Ibid., White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, Box 11, Peter Flanigan, Textiles, May 1969–November 1972)

On April 16, several days after Mills submitted his textile bill, Secretary of the Treasury David Kennedy sent a memorandum to Nixon in which he described a meeting with Prime Minister Sato in Seoul at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank. Kennedy reported, “Japanese Prime Minister Sato asked me to convey to you his deep regrets at not having been able to resolve the textile issue during the time span he had pledged, and he reiterated his determination to [Page 126] achieve a solution that would be helpful to you. He feels too many are now involved in efforts to seek an arrangement, and he proposes very limited top secret contacts to pursue the matter. Agreement should first be found between our governments. He would then see to it that his textile industry would accept it and expects that you [Nixon] could also get our [the U.S.] industry to come along. Previously, Finance Minister Fukuda had made exactly the same points; and he said that both he and Sato attributed the great success of the LDP elections in December to your Okinawa decision in November. Fukuda indicated that Sato was deeply conscious of your help and intended to reciprocate on textiles.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 289, Agency Files, Treasury—Vol. 1)

On May 11, in anticipation of administration witnesses testifying in a week before the Ways and Means Committee, Nixon established the administration position in regard to provisions in the Mills bill for immediate implementation of quotas on imports of woolen and synthetic textiles. Kissinger sent Nixon an undated memorandum that listed three options: first, that the administration explicitly oppose the mandatory textile quotas in the Mills bill at this time; second, that the administration defer taking a stance in regards to the bill’s mandatory textile quotas; third, that the administration indicate that while it prefers a negotiated solution, such a solution can not be assured, and that it therefore does not oppose Mills’ textile quota legislation. Nixon initialed his approval of the second option on May 11. Kissinger’s memorandum also describes which administration figures supported the various options. (Ibid., Box 399, Subject Files, Textiles, Vol. II, 1970)

On July 9, Nixon met with Mills and others about pending trade legislation. During this meeting, Mills said that only some segments of the U.S. textile industry had been hurt by imports. “In an aside, [Mills] remarked to the President that they had both been fooled by the textile industry, which had no case for overall protection.” (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 81, Memos for the President, July 5, 1970) On July 20, Ray Cline, Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State, sent an intelligence brief to Secretary of State Rogers that analyzed the Japanese reaction to the Mills bill, describing it as a mixture of pride over Japan’s refusal to back down in the textile dispute, and disquiet at the long-term effect on U.S.-Japanese relations. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, INCO–FIBERS 17 US-JAPAN) The House of Representatives passed the Mills bill in September 1970, but it died there because the Senate did not pass it before adjourning on December 28. For more on U.S. trade policy and the Mills bill, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume IV, Foreign Assistance, International Development, Trade Policies, 1969–1972, especially Document 230.