67. Memorandum From the Director of the U.S. Information Agency (Shakespeare) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Proposal for NSC Review of U.S. Policy Toward Japan

I believe another NSC review of our policy toward Japan would be highly desirable at this time.

NSDM 13 of May 28, 19692 set forth a practical formula for our Japan policy, relying mainly on the smooth execution of existing policies. That formula and the psychological benefits from the Okinawa reversion decision defused the widely anticipated “1969 crisis” in U.S.-Japan [Page 185] relations. In recent months, however, there have been indications of increasing strains in the relationship as the Japanese move toward greater independence and note with concern directions and measures being urged in the U.S. which do not converge with their own interests. As a result, established U.S. policies could drift out of alignment with the realities of Japan’s changing situation.

In the economic and political areas I believe there are several indications of these problems. In the psychological area of our relationship, I note that public opinion surveys and other assessments of Japanese attitudes have tended to confirm the seriousness of these strains. These developments appear to be particularly significant:

—Economic frictions have aroused intense feelings which could unsettle broad areas of our relationship.

—Some influential figures in Japan are disturbed by their perception of applications of the Nixon Doctrine, and their feelings are reflected in press and other media comment.

—Debates are sharpening in Japan over the congruity of American and Japanese policies toward China.

—The Japanese official position in the Okinawa reversion negotiations, in which our Voice of America transmitter figures prominently, seems to reflect a certain sensitivity toward American Congressional and public attitudes.

Among the questions which a new NSC review could examine might be these:

1. Might increasing nationalism make Japanese feel that close relations with the U.S. are inhibiting their independence in Asia?

2. What will be the psychological effect of U.S. force reductions in East Asia? Will the Japanese feel insecure? Will domestic Japanese pressures build up for a large Japanese military establishment with offensive and/or nuclear capabilities? Will our force reductions weaken credibility and interest in American power and defense commitments?

3. Is there a psychological threshold for economic frictions beyond which it will be difficult to sustain a productive basic relationship?

4. In the face of mixed Japanese inhibitions and ambitions and of remaining anti-Japanese sentiment in East Asia, what type and degree of Japanese involvement would most benefit U.S. strategic interests in the area?

I believe that a review of the problems and opportunities confronting the U.S.-Japanese relationship—which the President has termed the “linch-pin” for peace in the Pacific—should be accorded a high priority.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), National Security Study Memoranda, Box H–182, NSSM 13, 3 of 3. Top Secret; Sensitive. Holdridge sent this memorandum to Kissinger under a February 24 memorandum, advising Kissinger to tell Shakespeare that he preferred to delay the review until later in the year. Kissinger rejected this response and wrote on Holdridge’s covering memorandum: “No—I think Shakespeare is right. Let’s start review now & get Peterson involved.” Kissinger’s note is stamped March 1. (Memorandum from Holdridge to Kissinger, February 24; ibid.)
  2. Document 13.