187. Memorandum of Conversation, Paris, April 7, 1974, 10:15 a.m. 1 2

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON
MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION

PARTICIPANTS:

  • Kakuei Tanaka, Prime Minister of Japan
  • Kiyoshiko Tsurumi, Deputy Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Sadaki Numata, Interpreter
  • The President
  • Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

DATE & TIME: Sunday, April 7, 1974; 10:15 a.m.
PLACE: Residence of the American Ambassador, Paris, France

The President's meeting with Prime Minister Tanaka lasted slightly less than one hour, including a walk in the garden at the American Ambassador's residence.

Tanaka led off the meeting noting with pride that he had kept his pledge to achieve a balance of trade and by asking for stable supply of agricultural products like feed grain, wheat and soybeans. He said he now had almost no economic problems with the Nine. Kosygin had met him at the airport in Moscow and had urged the Siberian project on him. Tanaka had mentioned to Brandt the possibility of German participation, and had received a fairly neutral response. He said it would be good to have the participation of a great power like the United States. The President responded that Congress was very difficult on Soviet trade and credit but that he favored U.S. participation. The problems were enormous, though, because of the size of the project and the cost of gas, even though the recent oil crisis had altered price structures. Tanaka said he would send the United States data on seven or eight development projects the Soviets are pushing.

In response to a question about relations with the PRC, Tanaka said they were proceeding smoothly and trade, while still small, had doubled recently.

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He said relations with the USSR were all right, but he told Brezhnev that until he returned the four Northern Islands, there could be no peace treaty or good relations. He opined that Soviet reluctance on the Islands related to the risk of setting a possible precedent for border changes in East Europe after World War II.

Tanaka said he appreciated our getting the oil embargo lifted and said the energy issue is a serious one, especially for the LDCs. He thought they would make strong demands in the UN session.

The President asked if Japan thought we should get out of Asia militarily. Tanaka replied strongly in the negative. He said it would be an extremely disturbing factor and that the U.S. military presence in Korea, Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines was essential. The President replied there was a strong isolationist trend in the United States but that he would maintain U.S. commitments while welcoming a greater Japanese role in Asia. Tanaka said his people were very aware of the Soviet threat and he had told Brezhnev that he should not give the Japanese too rough a time because they were quite capable of nuclear weapons.

On China, he said it is a great country but with problems. Not in this century would it develop Soviet-like power. The President responded that the Soviets thought it would take only 10-15 years. Tanaka said Russians have a pathological fear stemming from two centuries of broader disputes, but historically the Chinese motives and direction had focused on internal governing rather than on outward aggression. The West should encourage China to open up because Chinese by nature believe in value of freedom — look at the free enterprise proclivities of the overseas Chinese.

Tanaka closed with the hope of welcoming the President to Japan, to which he replied "One day, maybe later this year."

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, Presidential/HAK Memcons, 1 March 1974–8 May 1974 [2 of 4]. Secret; Sensitive. The conversation took place in the residence of the American Ambassador. A briefing memorandum for the meeting is in the Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft Daily Work Files, 1973–1977, Box 7, Chronological File A, April 5–7, 1974 (Paris Trip).
  2. Nixon and Tanaka discussed trade issues, Siberian development, relations with China, and the role of the United States in Asia.