182. Editorial Note

On October 31, 1973, Arthur Hummel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, sent Secretary of State Henry Kissinger a briefing memorandum in anticipation of his meeting with Japanese Ambassador Takeshi Yasukawa. Hummel wrote that the Japanese Government “is under heavy pressure from the Arabs and from domestic industrial circles to abandon its long-standing neutrality in favor of a pro-Arab stance.” Hummel commented that while Japan has resisted this pressure, it “doubtless feels an immediate need for reassurance from us on prospects for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the lifting of Arab oil production cutbacks in order to resist pressure from the Arabs and domestic opinion.” (National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Office of Japanese Affairs, 1960–1975, Entry 5413, Box 9, Subject Files, POL 9–16, Middle East, 73)

During their meeting the next day, Yasukawa declared that despite the pressure and resulting problems, his government did not wish to undermine U.S. efforts to resolve the crisis, and would consult with the United States before taking any significant action. Kissinger “reiterated his appreciation for the attitude which the Japanese government had taken up to now. He continued that whether other countries permit the pressure tactics of the Arabs to succeed or whether they will join with us in helping to bring about a solution is something which they must decide for themselves.” (Memorandum of Conversation, November 1, 1973, Uncleared by Secretary; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Far East, Box 539, Japan, July 1973–December 31, 1974 (sic), vol. 10.)

Kissinger visited the Middle East and East Asia during November 5–16. Arriving in Tokyo near the end of his trip, he met with the U.S. Chiefs of Mission to Asian countries, and briefed Japanese officials about his talks with Middle Eastern and Chinese leaders. He met with Yasuhiro Nakasone, the Japanese Minister of International Trade and Industry, who observed that elections for Japan’s upper house would occur in June, and that a shift of 13 seats would allow the opposition to gain control, which would threaten the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty and modify Japan’s defense policies. He added that Japan felt pressure to seek its own interests. Kissinger replied that this would be acceptable if Japan received something in exchange. (Memorandum of Conversation, November 15, 1973; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–1973, POL 15 Japan-US)

At a Department of State staff meeting on November 19, Kissinger discussed the trip and stated, “If we had unity in the west, I think we would be in a really excellent position to force a just settlement. Our greatest weakness is the total inability to keep the Europeans and to a lesser extent the Japanese on a line that distinguishes the short-term tactical from the long-term.” He predicted, “we will certainly find that if the oil squeeze continues, that the Japanese will move into an overtly anti-Israeli position.” Kissinger also remarked, “If they make a public move towards the Arabs, then we have to make clear that we cannot be pressured. To that extent, we have to separate from them.” (Minutes of Secretary’s Staff Meeting, November, 19, 1973, 12:05; ibid., Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, E5177, Box 1)