19. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka
  • Foreign Minister Toshio Kimura
  • Ambassador Takeshi Yasukawa
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Kiyohiko Tsurumi
  • Toshio Yamazaki, Director General, American Affairs Bureau, MOFA
  • Hidetoshi Ukawa, MOFA (Interpreter)
  • Akitane Kiuchi, Private Secretary to Prime Minister
  • The President
  • Secretary Kissinger
  • Ambassador Hodgson
  • General Scowcroft
  • Assistant Secretary Habib
  • James J. Wickel (Interpreter)


  • President Ford–Prime Minister Tanaka—First Meeting

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to energy issues.]

[President:] This leads to a new subject of great mutual interest to all of us. I personally appreciate Japan’s cooperation in energy, in the IEG and the IEP. Both are vitally important to the consumers throughout the world. It is vitally important for us to have a IEG and a strong IEP. We should be prepared to move strongly, not to antagonize the producers, but to make sure that we consumers don’t have to assume a defensive posture in bargaining with the producers without any strength. In our judgment it is essential for Japan to support both the IEG and the IEP firmly. I can assure you, Mr. Prime Minister, that we will continue to give the kind of leadership in this area, which Secretary Kissinger has been giving. Progress up to now has been encouraging, and we feel that anything which further strengthens the consumers will benefit both the consumers and the producers in the long run.

PM Tanaka: In my view energy is the greatest problem we face. I understand Secretary Kissinger’s proposal2 very well. Japan has a deep interest in the oil question, which is really at the root of the reason many countries around the world are eating less meat. However, I hope you understand that Japan’s circumstances differ from some [Page 79] other countries, like the US, UK and France. For example, Japan has no coal; it is dependent on oil for most of its energy. Consuming about 300 million tons of oil per year—almost all of it imported—it is natural that Japan should try to conserve oil. However, 73% of Japan’s oil is used for industrial purposes, and only 27% for private consumption. (note: Kiuchi gave PM Tanaka these figures in writing.) By comparison, the 31% of the United States consumption is for industrial purposes and 69% for private purposes. Therefore, any conservation program automatically means an immediate reduction of industrial production in Japan. I would hope that these special circumstances could be reflected in any program devised to deal with the oil question.

Secretary: May I, Mr. President, comment on two problems, consumer solidarity and the specific measures by which we hope to attain it. In preparing my Chicago speech, I linked consumption and the development of a new system because I recognize the special position of Japan. Obviously, all nations can’t conserve oil to the same degree as the others, and therefore should try to compensate by increasing their reliance on alternative supplies. We would be prepared to work with Japan, within the framework of our joint agreement on uranium enrichment and other alternatives, to take into account Japan’s specific requirements relating to industrial use in working out a conservation program for the consumers. I can assure you this energy program is not designed for conservation at the expense of growth, but instead is planned to achieve the conservation of energy and growth by also developing alternative sources of energy. If the consumers could achieve greater solidarity along these lines, it would improve their position to bargain for oil.

President: We are devoting a great deal of effort to R&D in potential alternative sources, such as solar and geothermal energy, and to make coal a more effective and cleaner source. We are thinking of sharing the results of these R&D programs as a part of the IEG and the IEP. The development of alternative sources lessens our dependence on oil, and thus increases our independence.

PM Tanaka: As I noted, Japan imports almost all of its oil, and our BOP cannot continue to bear the increased cost of oil. Therefore, the most serious consideration for us is the development of alternative sources of energy, including nuclear, solar and geothermal. However, Japan cannot conduct these programs alone—all of the advanced industrial democracies should combine their total efforts for this purpose.

Secretary Kissinger: We would like within a few weeks to meet quietly with a suitable official from Japan without any public dramatics to discuss this issue. Perhaps the Prime Minister could send someone to Washington, or we could send someone here to discuss our thinking on [Page 80] this in detail, without making any dramatic announcements. In my speech I used forthright language to express what we think must be done to meet this situation.3

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to energy issues.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 7. Secret. The meeting was held in the Guest House. President Ford made an official visit to Tokyo November 18–22 en route to the Vladivostok Summit.
  2. See Document 18.
  3. In a November 25 meeting in Tokyo, where Kissinger stopped after the Vladivostok Summit, Kimura informed Kissinger about his meetings with Sauvagnargues in Tokyo a few days earlier, which focused primarily on oil, and told the Secretary that his “impression” was that “there was no basic difference of views between the United States and France on the question of oil.” However, he added, there were “some differences which remain regarding the timing of implementing what is agreed, and the methodology.” Kissinger and Kimura concurred, as did Sauvagnargues according to Kimura’s account of their conversation, that the matter of recycling should be handled by the Group of Ten. Looking forward, Kissinger said, “if France cooperates with us in our consumer initiative, we are prepared to cooperate with them in their producer initiative.” (Memorandum of conversation, November 25; National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Lot 91D414, Box 21, Classified External Memcons, May–November 1974, Folder 7)