170. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, March 9, 1973, 1430–1500.1 2


In reply refer to:


SUBJECT: Visit of Ambassador Ushiba with Secretary Richardson
TIME AND DATE: 1430-1500, Friday, 9 March 1973
LOCATION: Secretary Richardson’s Office - Pentagon


  • U.S. Side
  • Elliot L. Richardon- Secretary of Defense
  • Dennis J. Doolin -Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA)
  • Colonel Robert C. Taylor - Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense
  • Japan Side
  • Nobuhiko Ushiba-Ambassador
  • MGen Yoshio Takenaka - Defense Attache

(U) What proved to be an extremely cordial and substantive meeting, rather than a courtesy call began with the Secretary Informing Ambassador Ushiba that he had some disquieting news which the Ambassador might wish to relay to Tokyo — viz, that, unlike Mr. Laird, he does not play golf and, therefore, will not be quite as good a guest when he visits Japan. Ambassador Ushiba appreciated the remark. The Secretary continued by noting that he had attended the Shimoda Conference in June of last year but had to return to Washington ahead of schedule because of the ongoing debate over reform.

(C) He noted our very important ties with Japan and said that he wanted to do all that he can in the Department of Defense to strengthen these ties and keep them in good repair. He told the Ambassador that we have an extremely able representative in Japan in the person of the COMUSJapan, LGen Robert Pursley.

The Ambassador replied that relations with the Department of Defense are Japan’s most important overall relations with the U.S. He said we [Page 2]should work very closely together in Asian security matters and that the climate in Japan is much better since the base problem, primarily on Okinawa, was resolved in January.

(FOUO) The secretary said that he hopes to visit Japan in July after the bilateral US/ROK Security Consultative Conference in Seoul. In response to the Ambassador’s query, Mr. Doolin said the tentative dates for the Japan visit were 12-14 July.

(C) The Secretary then returned to the subject of strengthening ties between the US and Japan. With the cessation of actual fighting and the hope for stable peace in southeast Asia, together with the moves on the part of both Tokyo and Washington to normalize relations with Peking, the US and Japan must work more closely together to maintain stability and equilibrium in Asia. The Secretary pointed out that we can make a joint contribution greater than either of our countries could make alone. Ambassador Ushiba agreed agreed, noting that the Mutual Security Treaty is not just to our mutual advantage, but rather contributes to the stability of the entire Asian area. He added that Japan must do more primarily in the economic aid and cultural fields.

(S) The Secretary said that US relations with Japan are analogous to US relations with Western Europe as a whole, in that Japan will have closer ties and more trade with Peking as is the western European case concerning the Eastern European nations. Mr. Richardson said that when the western Europeans used to tell him that Ostpolitik did not mean any lessening in their ties with the US, he believed them. The same is true with regard to Japan — normalization of Sino/Japanese relations does not require a weakening of the US/Japan security relationship. The Secretary used the analogy of someone leaning across the stream to touch someone’s hand on the other side and hanging onto a tree as he leans across. The farther he leans, the tighter he grips the tree. This analogy is germane to our relationship to Japan as well as to Western Europe. Mr. Richardson said that for the foreseeable future we want the PRC poised between the Free World and the Soviet Union. We want neither Sino/Soviet rapprochement nor Sino/Soviet war. He told the Ambassador that he has argued since 1970 that the power relationship in Asia is a triangular one — the Soviet Union with its military might on one side; the PRC with its power and proximity on the second; and the US and Japan on the third side. He noted that with the US actually far removed from the Western Pacific we alone do not have the power to balance the equilateral triangle. He noted further that the very cessation of hostilities in Southeast Asia and the normalization of relations with Peking make it even more important that the US/Japan alliance be strengthened. Ambassador Ushiba agreed saying that we need to talk more with regard to military planning. The Secretary replied that possibly we could have some informal sessions here in Washington before his trip to Japan in July. He asked Mr. Doolin for comments. Mr. Doolin explained that the SSC would meet in May in Tokyo and that he and Mr. Sneider of [Page 3]State would attend as the US representatives. Mr. Richardson then asked that Sneider and Doolin debrief Ambassador Ushiba and himself after their return in May. The Ambassador seemed very pleased with this approach.

(C) The Secretary then turned to a discussion of military power and said that we must think of it as a defensive capability that enhances diplomacy. It is in this context that one should view US force deployments in WestPac. He added that he would not be surprised that Peking has this same perception, and Ambassador Ushiba said that, indeed, that was what Chou En-lai told Prime Minister Tanaka on the latter’s visit to Peking last fall. The Secretary said that these WestPac deployments maintain equilibrium of the structure itself, and he added that the economic role of Japan can be a major stabilizing factor. He congratulated the Ambassador for Tanaka’s decision to increase Japan’s economic aid in JFY 74 by over $1 billion.

(C) The Secretary closed the meeting by noting that, within the triangle described earlier, a neutral SEA could develop without disturbing that structure.

(U) Upon leaving the building with Mr. Doolin, Ambassador Ushiba stated that he was extremely pleased with the tone and content of the meeting and expressed his appreciation for Secretary Richardson’s offer of joint debriefing after the SSC meeting in May.

Prepared by: Dennis J. Doolin [DJD initialed]
Dep Asst Secretary
Date: 9 March 1973

Approved by: Lawrence S. Eagleburger [LSE initialed]
Acting Asst Secretary
Date: 13 Mar 1973

Acting ASD (ISA)
DepAsstSec (ISA/EAPA)
RC (2)
State (Mr. Sneider)

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330–76–117, Japan, 333, 1973 January, March 13, 1973. Secret. Prepared by Doolin and approved by Eagleburger. The conversation took place in Richardson’s office.
  2. Richardson and Ushiba discussed relations between the United States and Japan, especially within the context of improving relations with the People’s Republic of China.