181. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, September 24, 1973, 5–5:30 p.m.1 2



  • The Hon. Masayoshi Ohira, Japanese Foreign Minister
  • The Hon. Takeshi Yasukawa, Japanese Ambassador to the United States
  • Mr. Yoshio Okawara, Director-General, North American Affairs Bureau, Japanese Foreign Ministry
  • Mr. Sadaaki Numata, Interpreter
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Ambassador Robert Ingersoll, US Ambassador to Japan
  • Mr. Richard L. Sneider, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
  • Mr. Thomas C. Hubbard, Country Officer for Japan, Interpreter
  • Mr. Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

DATE AND TIME: Monday, September 24, 1973 5:00 - 5:30 p.m.
PLACE: Secretary of State’s Suite, The Waldorf Towers New York City

Ohira: Let me first congratulate you on your appointment as Secretary of State. Your General Assembly speech was a great success. I must express particular appreciation for the reference to a permanent Security Council seat for Japan.

Kissinger: Mr. Foreign Minister, I can assure you that under my tenure as Secretary of State the closest cooperative relationship with Japan will remain the cornerstone of our foreign policy in Asia. The US and Japan should deal with each other with complete candor and consult fully on all important issues.

For. Min. Ohira: I share these sentiments. Japan expects to deal with the US, under your able leadership with mutual understanding and frank consultation. Japan hopes to make our relationship even closer and place it on an even stronger foundation.

Declaration of Principles

[Page 02]

Dr. Kissinger: This will be certainly also our intention.

Your Ambassador was good enough to give us a copy of your draft declaration, which you thought we might be prepared to join. I have given him some preliminary comments.

For. Min. Ohira: Yes, and I found that your response to our draft was that it was not very specific.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

For. Min. Ohira: We are continuing to study it and will continue to study it seriously. We have heard since your first meeting with Ambassador Yasukawa that the European Community has firmed up its own ideas and communicated them.

Dr. Kissinger: Through the New York Times.

For. Min. Ohira: We would appreciate your detailed opinion of the draft so we can be of assistance in bringing about fruitful results.

Dr. Kissinger: First, we appreciate the attitude that Japan has taken toward the project. Because even if we have some comments on your draft, it is clear that it moves in a positive direction.

Secondly, with regard to the Europeans, we are dealing with two different issues: One is the relationship of the US to European unity, and second is the relationship with NATO. And there may be some relationship overall, as I said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Since these aspects are interrelated, it is difficult to look at any one of them in isolation. The NATO declaration is only in the process of being formulated. It is only beginning to be drafted.

The two are related in this sense. If the NATO declaration is fairly specific, then the EC declaration can be fairly general and you can probably be brought in with that. Or there can be a third declaration for you to join. On the other hand, if the special role of France leads to a NATO declaration that is not satisfactory, we would have to strengthen the Common Market one. And you could, if you wish, join the Common Market one, though you may not want to. We would then need a third, more general declaration.

I am assuming this conversation is just between us, and we won’t discuss it wit the press — at least the details.

So this is where we stand.

[Page 03]

The Europeans are very optimistic that we can conclude satisfactory declarations in both in a matter of weeks. But the only European I’ve seen so far for a long talk is Sir Alec.

Amb. Yasukawa: May I ask for some clarification? You said that if the NATO arrangement should be satisfactory for you, then the declaration between the EC and the US may be more or less general.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly.

Amb. Yasukawa: So Japan can participate in that.

Dr. Kissinger: And theoretically join that.

Amb. Yasukawa: In the event the NATO declaration is not satisfactory or specific enough for the US to accept, then the declaration between the EC and the US is bound to be more specific. Do you mean the EC-US declaration is bound to include security matters?

Dr. Kissinger: It is hard to conceive of a situation in which the NATO declaration would be inadequate on security matters and would be included in the EC document. The EC document might, however, have to be more specific on political cooperation than you might care to join.

Amb. Yasukawa: In the New York Times today, security matters are not yet included in the EC draft, but you think it might?

Dr. Kissinger: It is not excluded. I will be able to know that better in about three weeks. Your draft is not excessively specific. [Laughter] It just reaffirmed, really, some established things.

Amb. Yasukawa: I think a reaffirmation of established facts means something to us, and to you too. Our draft includes security matters. We would be willing to elaborate further in that area.

For. Min. Ohira: And we think it possible to include some basic principles in the joint communiqué when the President visits Japan, those points that would serve to reaffirm and strengthen Japan’s relations with the US as apart from those between the US and Europe.

Dr. Kissinger: You should understand that our interest in all of these declarations is to create among American public opinion support for our traditional friendships. If they become too difficult, there is not much sense in pursuing it.

One possible way to pursue it, if the President should go to Japan before he [Page 04] goes to Europe, is that it is certainly possible to include in a joint declaration a specific affirmation of our ties with Japan that is more specific than one could put in a general declaration.

For. Min. Ohira: I have to ask where Canada may fit in this exercise.

Dr. Kissinger: Canada would, of course, be an integral part of the NATO declaration. It is more difficult to place it in the US-Common Market declaration, although we would have no objection to including Canada in that declaration.

For. Min. Ohira: The political-economic declaration with the EC?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Amb. Yasukawa: But it is up to the EC. Canada might desire to be included in the EC declaration but be rejected by the Europeans. Japan is in the same position.

Dr. Kissinger: Theoretically the EC might refuse to associate Japan with its declaration. We think it is very important that Japan be tied into the framework of declarations in some way. Whether this should be done through a joint declaration with the EC or whether a third declaration would need to be created, that we will have to establish in further discussions, when the content of the other declarations is more firm.

For. Min. Ohira: When you commented on our draft, when you said it lacked specificity, I wonder—

Dr. Kissinger: You see I am getting more diplomatic.

Amb. Yasukawa: Don’t be too diplomatic.

For. Min. Ohira: —that may be a reflection of the fact that we on our part have not grasped the full implication of your concept. We would like you to clarify any gaps in our understanding.

Dr. Kissinger: What we intended to do in this was to take account of the concerns of some of our friends that the distinction between friends and adversaries was being eroded, and secondly to take account of our domestic situation, where the generation which built our system of alliances is being replaced by a generation which has no feeling for the forces which led to their creation. This is particularly true in the Congressional pressures we are subject to. In this period of improvement in our relations with the USSR and China, we see a need to define the nature of this new world and to see where our relations with [Page 05] our friends are going, and create a new emotional commitment to it.

We need two things: a declaration or statement of principles which is sufficiently specific to tell us something about this new world. Secondly, we want to see that a process of discussing this concept with our allies develops that gives our allies some sense of confidence, so we can transmit this to our people.

I must say this is less difficult with Japan than with Europe, because we are moving in a good direction. But even with Japan, we must have more specificity on the political and economic issues. On security issues there is not much need to be more specific.

For. Min. Ohira: Now, I think the message is that our draft lacks specificity on the political.

Dr. Kissinger: On the economic, a little. We will be glad to discuss specifics with your Ambassador.

Amb. Yasukawa: I think that the problem is primarily one of wording and rhetoric. I think we have already achieved a general meeting of the minds, but I think you are perhaps more philosophical-minded that we are.

Dr. Kissinger: I’ll supply the philosophy if you supply the specifics. [Laughter]

Mr. Foreign Minister, I have the impression your Ambassador is very cautious and that he won’t tell us everything that he would say if you encouraged him. [Laughter] He is afraid of his Minister, which is not the case with my colleagues.

I think seriously, if you encourage him to work in an imaginative way, I agree that we see things in a similar way, and we can move things in a positive direction.

For. Min, Ohira: I appreciate your suggestion, aid if I can study this further... At the beginning, you suggested the importance of candor in all this, and I will encourage Yasukawa.

Mr. Okawara: When Mr. Ohira received the message from you, his reaction was that we should take the general approach of seeking a declaration which would remain valid for a ten-year period. If the declaration were too specific, its period of validity would be very short. But if we receive more precise comments, then we could consider more detail.

[Page 06]

Dr. Kissinger: I think our discussion, and my discussions with your Ambassador, make me very hopeful. I agree we should look ten years ahead. But it should not be so vague that the declaration does not tell us anything about our relationship in those ten years. So in our Washington discussions we will try to be more specific, and we will keep you abreast of our talks with the Europeans. So you can tell where you fit. It is not impossible that we can be more specific in a communiqué with you and be satisfied with a more general EC declaration. But we very much appreciate Japan’s role in this enterprise.

For. Min. Ohira: I appreciate the comments you made. As I said, we would like to study this seriously.

The Secretary’s Visit to China and Japan

Dr. Kissinger: When I go to China at the end of October, my plan is to stop in Tokyo for a few days. One reason is to hold a Chiefs of Mission conference of our Ambassadors in Asia, but also to confer with you. And also, if it is agreeable with you, to stop a few hours in Tokyo to inform you about our discussions in China. And on those occasions—it will probably fit better in my schedule to stop in Japan about two days on my way to China and around an afternoon and an evening on the way back—we can work further on the declaration.

For. Min. Ohira: I look forward to having you in Tokyo.

Dr. Kissinger: Thank you. I remember my last stop there, Mr. Foreign Minister, with the greatest warmth. Mr. Ohira gave a dinner for me.

Amb. Yasukawa: Mr. Ohira told me that on the last time you visited, as an adviser, you were at a geisha house. Can you do this as a Secretary? [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: I want an even better one. [Laughter]

Amb. Yasukawa: Or two or three.

Mr. Sneider: Or a younger one.

Dr. Kissinger: I am so concerned with US-Japanese relations that I would not refuse any invitation, Mr. Foreign Minister. [Laughter]

Japan-Soviet Relations

For. Min. Ohira: I would like to be in close consultation with Ambassador. Ingersoll as to what red carpet reception will be most ideal.

[Page 07]

Our Prime Minister is going to Moscow between October 7 and October 10. The background for this visit is that we have the Soviet Union as a neighbor, and our relations in the economic and other fields have progressed so that we think it would be appropriate for the Prime Minister to visit. Once he visits, the question of the Northern Territories is bound to come up. In this connection, we greatly appreciate that you told the Russians of your attitude. We would be interested in how the Russians reacted.

Dr. Kissinger: We mentioned it, as the President told your Prime Minister. Of course, their problem is that if they give up any territory they open up claims for territory all along their frontier. But they have indicated to us very recently that perhaps two of the islands could be given up. I did not pursue the subject because I did not think it...

Amb. Yasukawa: The Soviet attitude may have changed recently. They had indicated in the past that they would not consider returning two islands until a peace treaty were signed and as long as the US retained control of Okinawa. The latter obstacle has obviously been removed.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, at the summit they said they haven’t definitely considered two but in no circumstances would they give up more than two. At least we expressed our view to them.

I don’t want this to get general distribution—I mean the fact that we have talked to the Soviets.

Have you been there before?

For. Min. Ohira: Yes, I was there last year.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course, I remember. But the Prime Minister has never been there.

Amb. Yasukawa: He was there at the time of normalization. But not as Prime Minister. No Prime Minister has ever been there.

Japanese Relations with Vietnam

For. Min. Ohira: On September 21 we established diplomatic relations with North Vietnam, and we have been informing the American Embassy in Tokyo on this. Although we had expected this would take place earlier, we subsequently decided it would be better in timing to do it in the fall. Ambassador Ingersoll is informed on this.

[Page 08]

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I am familiar with it.

For. Min. Ohira: Secondly, this establishment took place on an absolutely nonpolitical basis, that is, there were no strings or conditions attached. There were stories in the press that this was in return for $20 million in grant aid. We did not have discussions along these lines with the North Vietnamese.

We have decided to give $50 million in grants and loans to South Vietnam during the Japanese fiscal year [ending March 31]. Now that we have established diplomatic relations with North Vietnam, in planning the supplementary budget to be presented to the Diet this fall, we feel we should ask the Diet to approve $20 million in grant aid to North Vietnam as well. This is a purely internal matter in formulating our plan for the supplementary budget internally in the Government. There has been no discussion of this figure with the North Vietnamese. It has nothing to do with a request of the North Vietnamese. One of our main considerations in the $20 million figure is that we would like to strike a right balance in comparison with South Vietnam. That is, we would like to give a figure smaller than South Vietnam and at the same time, in view of public opinion. And it seemed the best figure was along the lines of $20 million.

Dr. Kissinger: We understand the problem, and we discussed it with Prime Minister Tanaka in February. From our point of view, we have no objection, as long as you keep these principles. For example, a smaller sum for North Vietnam. Our one concern is the possibility that there may be North Vietnamese military action next year, and we would not want it to be financed even in part by Japanese assistance. But if they observe the armistice, we have no objection, as we discussed.

For. Min. Ohira: We are acting on the same assumption as you mentioned, that assistance is to be provided only on the assumption that the Paris Agreement is observed by North Vietnam, and by South Vietnam for that matter.

Relations with the PRC

Since September 29th is our first anniversary of the normalization of relations with China, I would like to make brief comment on the progress in the last year. It is not too remarkable progress; but it is steady progress in the field of trade, and especially in the mutual understanding fostered by these contacts. But by “mutual understanding” I mean an appreciation of social institutions, a rules of social practice, and a better understanding of what ideas we share. We are working on a number of agreements in aviation, etc.

Overall I would say our relations are progressing without too great a problem.

[Page 09]

Dr. Kissinger: As you know, we have never objected in recent years to your normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China, especially because the People’s Republic never pressed you to give up your security relations with the U.S. Our relations are progressing the same way with steady but undramatic progress. We think—and we would like your assessment—that in July and August there was some concentration on the domestic situation there, and now this is completed.

As I told your Ambassador, I will visit China in the last week of October. We are just now fixing a date, but we will confer with you before and after. This should not be mentioned publicly until it is announced. There is no particular reason for the China visit; it is simply a general periodic review of relations.

Presidential Visit to Japan

Amb. Yasukawa: With the permission of the Minister, and to save time, may I mention the question of President Nixon’s visit to Japan? The Japanese press has big headlines about President Nixon’s visit to Japan this year. May I emphasize that this speculation is not attributable to Japanese sources at all.

Dr. Kissinger: Is it our Embassy? When Ingersoll drinks, he doesn’t know what he says.

Amb. Yasukawa; In Washington I had a press conference and this question came up, and I tried to escape from the question. I said this question would probably come up in the meeting with the Foreign Minister. I managed to escape it.

Dr. Kissinger: Now how do we escape? [Laughter]

Amb. Yasukawa: If it turns out that it didn’t come up, I am a liar. I am prepared to be a liar.

Dr. Kissinger: Let’s take up the subject.

Our situation is as follows: The President has not yet made a final decision on whether to take any trips this year. Second, we promised the Europeans we would go there this year. But given you serious interest in Japan, we are giving serious consideration to perhaps moving a trip to Japan up this year. But this is why we are somewhat embarrassed at the speculation. Especially because now it is very probable we will make very great progress with the Europeans.

[Page 10]

Therefore, by the time I come to Japan, and if we have made good progress on the declarations, we can then make a determination as to whether to do it at the end of November or at the end of February, if that is possible.

Ingersoll: There is the budget discussion in the Diet until March 31.

Dr. Kissinger: Then we may have to put it off until April. We have very seriously considered a trip towards the end of November.

How many days are you thinking about?

For. Min. Ohira: For state guests, normally the visit is five days or less. It could be less.

Dr. Kissinger: It could be less. Because it may be easier for him to come for only three to four days.

Why don’t we discuss this in a more concrete way when I am in Japan?

But I can tell you informally that we are very tempted by the idea, but there is a problem with the European allies because they are very eager that he come this year, as you can read in the newspapers.

Amb. Yasukawa: The Minister will have a press conference. He might say that Japan has invited the President to visit any time this year or next, that he repeated this invitation, and that the U.S. side is now considering this.

Dr. Kissinger: And we had an exchange on this.

Amb. Yasukawa: You have no definite plan yet.

Dr. Kissinger: Right.

Kissinger Visit to Japan

Amb. Yasukawa: About your visit to Japan, I made a slip of the tongue at a press conference the other day. I said I understand that he seems to want to visit Japan when he visits China.

Dr. Kissinger: Did you say you’d receive me? [Laughter]

Amb. Yasukawa: I said you had no definite plan.

[Page 11]

Dr. Kissinger: I have no objection to your saying that if I visit China I’ll certainly visit Japan in conjunction with a visit to China.

You told me some dates were bad.

Amb. Yasukawa: On the 18th we have to receive the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The 21st is anti-war day, a bad day. The 26th is the Prime Minister of Australia.

Dr. Kissinger: So between the 23rd and the 26th is possible?

Amb. Yasukawa: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: We will let your Ambassador know when it is set. You would prefer the 24th and 25th. But not before the 24th.

Amb. Ingersoll: The 23rd might be all right.

Amb. Yasukawa: But the antiwar demonstrators, some are associated with Peking, so they may welcome you.

Dr. Kissinger: That is right. I have my own Communist Party.


I have one minor problem—for your confidential information.

The British are selling some jet engines to China that can be used for military aircraft, and they want COCOM to change its rule. We have opposed this. But we want you to know that if any of our allies disagree with our judgment, we are broadminded.

Amb. Yasukawa: We have the same problem. Our business men are eager to export computers to China. These are not on the COCOM list for the Russians, but are still on the list for the Chinese. Japan is still anxious to sell to the Chinese. We have such discussions with your government.

Dr. Kissinger: That I have to study.

Amb. Yasukawa: I just want to bring this to your attention.

Dr. Kissinger: [to Ohira:] If you can make him this positive on the declaration, we can make progress!

[Page 12]

What, Mr. Foreign Minister, can we tell the press in general on this meeting? Because you are giving a press conference, and we have to say something.

For. Min. Ohira: The first point is: We have exchanged views on what we call “Dr. Kissinger’s concept.”

Dr. Kissinger: It coincides exactly with my description. [Laughter]

For. Min. Ohira: Secondly, we also exchanged views on the situation in Asia.

Thirdly, on the question of a Presidential visit to Japan, we will speak as we discussed a few moments ago.

Dr. Kissinger: We are prepared to say that I affirmed that friendship with Japan and a close and confidential relationship with Japan will continue to be the cornerstone of our policy in the Pacific.

We agree on the others.

Mr. Sneider: Can we say something besides “confidential?”

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, “intimate.” “Confidential” implies secret. And that should be point one.

Amb. Yasukawa: And if asked, he should mention your visit to Japan.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Mr. Foreign Minister, I look forward to meeting with you at the end of October.

Amb. Yasukawa: The Foreign Minister is meeting the Foreign Minister of Denmark this week, and this will be an opportunity for us to explain our views and positions.

Dr. Kissinger: And we will support your position.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 539, Country Files, Far East, Japan, July 73–Dec. 31, 1974 (sic), Vol. 10. Secret. The meeting was held at the Waldorf Towers in New York City. During a meeting three weeks earlier, Yasukawa gave Kissinger a draft declaration of principles. Kissinger scanned it, noted that he wanted to study it more closely, but remarked, “My initial reaction, however, is that it is not concrete and not a very important document.” (Memorandum of conversation, September 4, 1973, 11:15 a.m.; ibid.)
  2. Kissinger and Ohira discussed the Declaration of Principles, future visits to Japan, technology transfers, and Japanese relations with China, the Soviet Union, and the Vietnams.