49. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1


  • East Asian Chiefs of Mission Conference, July 9–11, 1970

I believe you will be interested in the enclosed summary report of our Chiefs of Mission Conference at Tokyo July 9–11.

In 1969 our achievements were principally five-fold: the Nixon Doctrine, Vietnamization, a modified approach toward Mainland China (trade, travel, Warsaw dialogue), the NixonSato Communiqué and all that was implied therein (in my book the most significant long-range development in our policy formulation), and our low profile approach of modesty, mutuality and multilateralism.

In essence, we devised both a philosophy and a new approach, which has the emphatic endorsement of all of our Ambassadors. It is now our problem to put this into effect in a period when we have continuing commitments and responsibilities, but with a shrinking budget and ever growing Congressional limitations with which to carry them out.

You will see in this summary report that a number of worries and concerns, repeatedly expressed, revolved around the problems of diminishing U.S. resources, and the need to be very careful that our reduced budget does not give our Asian friends the impression that our assistance to them, and our deterrent capabilities, are going to be eroded to the point where they cannot rely on us for essential help.

The Chiefs of Mission repeatedly emphasized in this connection that to ease the transition in Asia as much as possible it was essential that we formulate coherent strategic plans for the area. Such plans would make anticipated base and force reductions in the Pacific more understandable for all concerned, would provide a more rational basis for future budget preparations and redeployments, and would be useful in our efforts to obtain greater understanding and support for our plans in Congress. The group agreed that the recommended planning was a sufficiently important and difficult task to warrant your personal attention.

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The Chiefs of Mission recognized that our aim should be to draw back somewhat. But we should not draw back too far or too fast lest we undermine Asian self-confidence which has made possible the remarkable progress all the way from Korea down to Indonesia. On the other hand, a drawing back and lessening of American official presence will help spark the initiative of Asians, will spur their do-it-yourself spirit, and will comport with their growing nationalism.2

We recognized at our conference that the U.S. cannot solve the problems of Asia, but we can and must support the good Asian problem solvers. As you have pointed out, it is not a question of getting out of Asia but of finding the right way and right degree of staying in Asia.3 We reject the concept of detachment, of isolationism. We accept the risks—and yet the ultimate safety—of involvement.

William P. Rogers


Summary Report of Chiefs of Mission Conference 4


I. The Multi-power Balance

The Sino-Soviet estrangement and the growing power of Japan have produced a multipolar situation in East Asia replacing the bipolarity of the Fifties and Sixties.

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Of the four powers, Japan is the one whose international role will expand the most in the next five years. While its political influence has not kept pace with its economic growth, there are signs that this is beginning to change as a result of the changing national mood. Japan’s Djakarta Conference role is illustrative.

Heavily dependent on trade, Japan has a greater stake in regional stability than the other three powers. The extent to which it will use its enormous economic strength to promote regional economic developments and stability is not yet clear. There are powerful domestic demands on resources in Japan and continuing inhibitions abroad and in Japan against a mounting Japanese presence.

Northeast Asia is in a relatively stable condition, but Indochina creates many uncertainties for mainland Southeast Asia and for the Japanese. The Japanese sympathize with our problems in SEA but are providing inadequate help. We must work out a division of labor with Japan for our mutual goal of a stable and developing East Asia. We cannot twist Japan’s arm as much as before. Projects must commend themselves to the Japanese, and preferably be of Japanese inspiration.

Eventually Japan should and will make an overseas security contribution, but nothing substantial is considered likely in the next five years. Its best contribution for an indeterminate period will be economic. There is a good prospect that this will increase, but more gradually and in less helpful forms than we would like.

[Omitted here is discussion of Communist China, the USSR, Indochina, the U.S. Military Posture, the U.S. Presence in Asia, and Current and Future Economic Strategy for East and Southeast Asia.]

VI. Recommendations

The Conference endorsed the policies of 1969–70 dealing with the Soviet Union, Communist China and Japan and with the major problems of the area. These policies should be continued. However, great concern was repeatedly expressed by the Ambassadors that the material resources allocated in support of the Nixon Doctrine might not be sufficient.

The Conference recommended the following actions:

A. General

1. The Nixon Doctrine is welcome in the area and sound, but the U.S. must provide essential economic and military assistance so that the free East Asian nations which are able and ready to practice self-help can have the wherewithal and confidence to do so.

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2. An overall strategic plan for the area should be developed, matching U.S. military and economic resources with U.S. goals.5 We need such a plan in order to reassure our friends that U.S. operations reflect rational progression toward agreed goals.

3. Programs to enhance American public and Congressional support for such essential U.S. assistance in the period ahead should be promoted as a matter of top priority.

4. Greater efforts should be made to show Asians that President Nixon has very substantial support from the American public and the Congress for his policies despite media emphasis on elements of difference and dissension.6

5. While recognizing that the Congress clearly has the right to investigate U.S.G. activities abroad and that it is desirable to keep the U.S. public informed, we must take into account the fact that several Asian states have reacted, and will continue to react strongly to the publication of certain information considered to be classified by those nations.

6. As we depend more on Asian initiatives and self-help, advance consultation with our friends in the region on all key decisions affecting their interests, including policy on Mainland China, will be increasingly important. With Japan, this consultation will be particularly crucial in influencing its regional role.

B. The Multi-power Balance


1. The U.S. must recognize the primacy of close relations with Japan, irrespective of the irritations and frictions that inevitably arise in this relationship.

2. The U.S. should discreetly encourage an expanding Japanese economic and political, ultimately also security, contribution in the region. A substantially increased Japanese economic contribution should be evident within the next few years, to minimize the possibility that increasing impatience on this score may jeopardize U.S.-Japan relations. Due care should at the same time be paid to other countries’ sensitivities over an excessive Japanese presence.

3. There is an inherently competitive element in Japan’s trade, aid and investment role. The U.S. will have to work hard to remain [Page 145] competitive in the region in economic and aid matters if a healthy multipower balance is to be maintained.

[Omitted here are recommendations on China, Indochina, U.S. Military Posture, U.S. Presence in Asia, Current and Future Economic Strategy for East and Southeast Asia, and Others.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 282, Agency Files, Dept of State, Vol. VIII, 1 Jul 70–Aug 70. Secret. Kissinger sent Rogers’ report, as well as the conference report, to Nixon under cover of an August 10 information memorandum.
  2. Nixon underlined this entire sentence and wrote: “a vital point.”
  3. Nixon underlined the latter part of this sentence beginning with “it is not a question . . . .”
  4. This Summary Report was reviewed by Grant, who sent it to Kissinger under an information memorandum that summarized it for the President, and flagged a number of its conclusions and recommendations. Kissinger signed this information memorandum, and sent it to the President on August 10 with Rogers’ report and the attached summary report. The points Kissinger emphasized related to Japan were: “We must treat Japan as a major power. We can enlist its cooperation in mutually desirable economic aid for Asia, but its contribution will increase more gradually and in less helpful forms than we would like . . . . We must give primacy to relations with Japan, despite anticipated future frictions . . . . We should balance Japan’s economic activities [in Asia] by encouraging our own, West European, international and even Soviet economic participation in the area.” Nixon wrote a number of comments on this paper, although none related to Japan. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 282, Agency Files, Dept of State, Vol. VIII, 1 Jul 70–Aug 70)
  5. Nixon underlined this sentence and, in the right-hand margin wrote “vital.”
  6. In the right-hand margin next to this point, Nixon wrote, “Shakespeare follow up. (Since U.S.I.A. can’t do propaganda for the adm. perhaps another means should be found—Every ambassador e.g. should have the last Gallup & Harris polls— &the Columns—They should talk it up with opinion makers (regardless of their personal politics).”