6. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Fumihiko Togo, Director of American Bureau, Japanese Foreign Office
- Dr. Kissinger
- Richard L. Sneider, NSC Senior Staff Member
In reply to questions by Dr. Kissinger, Togo commented on the Korean and Vietnamese situations. On Korea, he personally felt that a stronger reaction to the EC–121 shoot-down would have been more effective in discouraging Kim Il Sung from further actions.2 On the other hand, he understood the problems involved in undertaking a stronger military reaction. On Vietnam, he said that the U.S. must hold on to the South and remain there to assure an honorable settlement. He recognized that given the problems of three divided countries in Asia, a strong military posture on the part of the United States is necessary. This of course relates to the Okinawan situation.[Page 26]
Togo described the current Japanese position on Okinawa pointing out what was involved was a reconciliation of the political problems in Japan with the military needs. In particular, continued storage of nuclear weapons, beyond emergency needs, was very difficult for the Japanese politically. On the other hand, Japan could give the United States some flexibility on conventional combat military operations. This could be done in advance and within the framework of the current security treaty arrangements. Japan wished to maintain these arrangements and not revise them. When asked by Dr. Kissinger how this could be done, Togo suggested the process of advanced consultations on a series of contingencies. Dr. Kissinger commented that advance consultation would associate Japan with a decision and that there might be advantages in non-association with U.S. decisions.
Dr. Kissinger said that President Nixon has a sympathetic understanding and interest in Japan and desires to resolve the Okinawan issue and is giving it the fullest consideration. However, the nuclear storage issue poses difficult problems for the United States and it is hoped that this is understood in Japan. Furthermore, the EC–121 incident demonstrated again the crucial role played by our bases in Okinawa. This came out quite clearly when we were considering alternative actions in response to the shoot-down.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 533, Country Files, Far East, Japan, Vol I. Secret. Drafted by Sneider. The meeting took place in the White House. On May 10 Eagleburger approved this memorandum with distribution to the Department of State. (Ibid.) On April 29 Sneider drafted Kissinger’s talking points for this meeting, informing Kissinger that Togo was visiting Washington in order to present Japan’s initial position concerning the Okinawa negotiations. Sneider remarked, “Since your views will have considerable weight in Tokyo, I would suggest that you take a fairly tough line—it is good negotiating tactics with the Japanese.” (Ibid.)↩
- On April 14 North Korean aircraft shot down a U.S. Navy EC–121, an unarmed reconnaissance plane carrying a crew of 31 men, over international waters. No survivors were found.↩