56. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Meeting Between President Nixon and Former Prime Minister Kishi


  • United States—President Nixon
  • Mr. Henry Kissinger
  • Manabu Fukuda, Interpreter
  • Japan—Former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi
  • Ambassador Nobuhiko Ushiba
  • Kagachika Matano, 1st Secretary, Japanese Embassy, Interpreter

Mr. Kishi thanked the President for this opportunity of discussing with him some of the problems confronting the United States and [Page 158] Japan. Recalling their last conversation in April of 19692 on the occasion of the funeral of Former President Eisenhower, Mr. Kishi thanked the President for the highly satisfactory decisions which had been reached on the reversion of Okinawa, briefly commented that arrangements for reversion are progressing smoothly, and expressed the hope that despite the existence of a few remaining problems, the reversion negotiations would soon be successfully concluded.

Mr. Kishi then commented that automatic extension of the Security Treaty had been accomplished smoothly and with very little opposition on the part of the Japanese people compared to 10 years ago, when the Red Chinese had stirred up the sentiments of the Japanese.

Mr. Kishi then cited the textile issue and the breakdown in negotiations as the foremost and the most pressing problem in US/Japan relations. He acknowledged the existence of other economic issues as well, but said he believed the relationship between the two countries is basically friendly; it must be strengthened still further, however, for the benefit of both nations. He continued that to this end, Prime Minister Sato’s Government and the Liberal Democratic Party are making efforts to liberalize Japan’s trade restrictions.

Turning to the Southeast Asian situation, Mr. Kishi commented that United States efforts to stabilize the Vietnam area are meeting with success and that Japan is cooperating in extending aid to that part of the world. He said Japan will also cooperate in the implementation of Nixon Doctrine but, expressing concern lest the US withdraw its military power too rapidly from the area, stressed that in the pursuit of this policy it is essential to time such withdrawals properly.

Mr. Kishi said that Prime Minister Sato will be attending the United Nations celebration on October 19 and in his speech will probably mention the Japanese desire for the return of the Northern territories.

President Nixon said he was pleased at being able to meet again with Mr. Kishi. He expressed his respect for both Mr. Kishi and Mr. Sato, whom he considered world statesmen, and his pleasure at being able to maintain close personal relationships with them both. He said it is essential for the leaders of the two major Pacific powers to continue this relationship. Touching briefly on Okinawa, the President acknowledged that the final details of the Okinawa reversion and other problems must be settled in a reasonable manner.

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In the economic area, the President expressed his concern over the dangers of a trade war and said he recognizes the difficulties in the textile situation. During the Okinawa reversion negotiation last year, Congress had pressed him to settle the Okinawa and textile matters in one package. He had assured Congress, however, that he and Mr. Sato would work out a solution to the textile problem. The President stated that he is in a rather embarrassing position now since the textile negotiations have broken down. He emphasized, however, the importance of solving the Okinawa and textile problems independently. He stressed the desirable effects which settlement of the textile problem on a voluntary basis will have in stopping the spread of protectionist sentiment in Congress. After citing electronics as another possible target, the President emphasized again that a voluntary settlement of the textile problem will certainly help his position. He said he would not wish to bring up the matter of textile negotiations with Mr. Sato at their forthcoming meeting unless there was a good possibility of negotiations leading to a settlement of mutual benefit for both nations.

The President then addressed Mr. Kishi’s concern that the implementation of Nixon Doctrine might result in an overly rapid withdrawal of the US presence from the Asian area. He assured Mr. Kishi that there will be no complete withdrawal of US forces from either Europe or Asia without their replacement by elements of strength capable of deterring aggression. Mr. Nixon recalled that he and Mr. Kishi had both opposed aggression in Asia from the time when he was Vice President and Mr. Kishi was a minister not yet in power. He strongly reiterated that free nations of the world must maintain sufficient strength to deter aggression. Many Americans are now demanding immediate withdrawal, but Mr. Nixon said that as long as he is in office he will maintain enough strength to insure the free nations against aggression.

The President then emphasized to Mr. Kishi and Ambassador Ushiba that it is essential that Japan and the United States continue their close relationship, working together for their mutual benefit.

President Nixon then asked Mr. Kishi for his appraisal of present developments in Communist China and what policies the US and Japan should maintain. Mr. Kishi emphatically stated that the present US policy need not change as long as Communist China does not change its attitude on coexistence. He said that Japan has also had difficulties with Communist China’s policy. The former Japanese Prime Minister added that Taiwan must be considered before the two nations change their policies towards Communist China; Nationalist China has been a member of the United Nations ever since its beginning and it would be a mistake to alter the present policy at this time. He also pointed out Taiwan’s strategic position as regards defense and security of Asia.

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Mr. Nixon, after commenting that we must not turn against our friends now, asked whether Mr. Kishi thought the Soviet Union and Communist China will get together. Mr. Kishi answered that although there is no immediate possibility of this, the two countries will eventually join hands. He stated that this possibility cannot be ruled out.

Mr. Nixon closed the meeting with an expression of his desire to visit Japan again. He also thanked Mr. Kishi for the hospitality extended to his daughter and son-in-law during their visit to Japan this year.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 535, Country Files, Far East, Japan, Vol. III, 7/70 to Dec 70. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Fukuda. Holdridge sent this memorandum of conversation to Kissinger under cover of an October 6 memorandum asking him to approve it, which Kissinger did and asked that a copy be put into his files. (Ibid.) On September 25 Kissinger had sent a memorandum to Rogers, Stans, and Shultz, in which he noted that “the President had directed that a new U.S. position on textile matters be developed” before Nixon’s meetings with Kishi (October 6) and Sato (October 24). (Ibid., Box 399, Subject Files, Textiles, Vol. II through Nov 70) The Department of State sent Kissinger a briefing memorandum for the meeting with Kishi. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 JAPAN)
  2. The President’s Daily Diary indicates that Nixon had met with Kishi on April 1, 1969, from 5:15 until 6:27 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) No other record of that meeting has been found.