60. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • FY 71 Reductions in U.S. Military Activities in Japan

On November 19, 1970, we authorized Ambassador Meyer to begin discussions with the Government of Japan regarding the substantial reductions in U.S. military operations in Japan scheduled to take place by June 30, 1971.

The package includes a reduction of approximately 9,000 Japanese employees and some 10,000 U.S. service personnel. The major U.S. naval base at Yokosuka will be nearly closed with most of its principal functions transferred to Sasebo, including COMSEVENTHFLT headquarters. The tactical air squadrons at Misawa and Yokota Air Bases will be redeployed to Korea and Okinawa and all tactical flying operations will cease at Misawa; MAC will continue to utilize Yokota. Atsugi Naval Air Station will be returned to Japan, except for necessary access to a U.S. aircraft repair facility. Itazuke Air Base will be returned to Japan, except for a small area necessary to provide logistic support for other U.S. operations at nearby bases.

The Ambassador has been instructed to seek reentry rights to some of the relinquished facilities and joint use rights at others, the final details of which have yet to be worked out. He is establishing a committee in Tokyo consisting of Embassy, U.S. Forces, Japan, Foreign Ministry and Defense Agency representatives, to work out the details of the program.

The reductions will work hardship on many of the Japanese employees, especially those in out-lying areas, and the Japanese enemies of our security relationship will attempt to exploit them as evidence of a weakening of our ability and intention to live up to our commitment. However, our tactical Air Force and Seventh Fleet units will continue to be present in Northeast Asia, concentrated in the East [Page 174] China Sea/Korea area, which should provide clear and continuing assurance to our allies while allowing us to take the necessary measures to reduce our costs.

On November 16 Ambassador Meyer presented an outline of the foregoing to the Foreign Minister. The latter, while a bit surprised at the plan to close Yokosuka, undertook to study the package carefully. We intend to work closely with the Japanese Government on all aspects of base reductions to assure both that the reductions will be carried out in a coordinated fashion and that the public understand that this is the case.

Theodore L. Eliot Jr.
  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. Under a November 25 covering memorandum, Holdridge forwarded this as an information memorandum to Kissinger. Kissinger initialed Holdridge’s November 25 memorandum, which summarized Eliot’s memorandum, and commented that the political impact within Japan of reductions in the U.S. military presence would be mixed: the firings of Japanese employees in rural areas would have negative effects, whereas the reduced number of bases would lessen the frictions produced by U.S. military involvement in Japan. (Ibid.)