65. Letter From the Ambassador to Japan (Meyer) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Dear Henry,

In a pair of telegrams perpetrated during the holiday season, we have tried to assess how we did vis-à-vis the US-Japan relationship in 1970 and what we propose to do in 1971 (Tokyo 10460 and 94).2 I hope you have had a chance to peruse at least the summaries.

One loose end is the textile problem. Well remembering that session in your office following Sato’s chat with our mutual boss, I am no less chagrined than others that the promised solution has not been achieved. And I am among those who feel that leadership here was not adequately exercised. Nonetheless, the fact remains that this one unworthy issue could conceivably condemn Sato to the same fate which befell his brother ten years ago, i.e. a rather ignominious ouster precipitated by a basic and rather childlike affection for the United States. Thus it remains my hope that Pete and Ushiba may still be able to come up with some sort of compromise. In all honesty, and as a great friend and admirer of Don McCullough, Roger Milliken and other fine Carolinian textilists, I do believe a little more give on our part is warranted. For their part, the Japanese have come a considerable distance since they greeted Secretary Stans in May 1969 with a unanimous Diet resolution foreclosing any restraint program whatsoever.

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The other loose end is a top-level visit to which we referred in a rather elliptic fashion in the second telegram. It remains my dream to have a successful Presidential visit to Japan. It could dispel much of the cantankerousness which afflicts some of the dialogue between our two countries. But this is a card which must be played most judiciously.

Certainly, we must first finish with all the threshing around over textiles. Assuming that that happy day will yet arrive, it would seem to me that if Sato’s party wins in the Upper House elections in June (which is likely but let’s keep our fingers crossed), and if Dick Sneider and I can hard bargain solutions to the prerequisite Okinawa reversion problems, i.e. a continuation which will be defensible on Capitol Hill for our business, civil aviation and VOA interests in Okinawa, a Presidential visit to Tokyo might be possible this fall. In so saying, I realize I go out on a limb, but let us set that as a goal.

It was fascinating that Japan and our problems here were not even touched upon in that fine hour-long Presidential chat on TV.3 I could not help but be reminded of a delightful line of Kathleen Winsor’s that there is no indignity so infuriating for a woman than not wanting to be slept with.4 “Forever Amber” notwithstanding (or reclining), I am confident that the President and his Chief National Security Advisor have in their thinking not diminished by an iota their appreciation for our getting along with the East Asian colossus to which I am assigned.

Let me assure you we are more convinced than ever of the President’s wisdom re the paramountcy of our relationship with Japan. No challenge could be greater, and all of us here are actively dedicated to coping with it.

By the way, we have been delighted with your adroit and professorial treatment of the “militarism” specter in Japan. You will not have any difficulty in getting a visa should you decide to journey this way.

Fond regards, and best wishes for 1971.


  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, White House Central Files, Subject Files, Confidential Files, CF, CO 75, Box 7, Japan 1/1/71–9/30/71. Confidential. Bergsten and Holdridge sent this letter to Kissinger on January 19, under cover of a memorandum and with a draft response to Meyer. Kissinger signed the response to Meyer and sent it on January 26. (Ibid.)
  2. Telegrams 10460, and 94, from Tokyo, December 28 and January 6. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL JAPAN–US)
  3. Meyer is probably referring to “A Conversation With the President,” an interview that four representatives of the television networks conducted with Nixon on January 4. See Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 6–23.
  4. Reference is to Forever Amber, Kathleen Winsor’s best-selling historical romance novel of 1944, which was made into a 1947 movie of the same name.