190. Study Prepared by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Washington, undated.1 2


The Question

Policy Discussion

Since 1952, US policy toward Japan has rested on the same basic economic, political and security considerations. The objective circumstances surrounding this relationship are changing. Tensions have decreased between the US and Japan on the one hand and between the US and the PRC and the USSR on the other, while increasing between the latter two.

The Nixon Doctrine, altering the nature of US involvement in Asia, is seen by Asians including the Japanese as a reflection of a relative decrease in US power and less support within the US to commit it abroad. Increasing numbers of Japanese, drawing confidence from their own achievements, no longer see the US interest as the single dominant factor in all of their foreign policy considerations, and are finding it both desirable and necessary to increase the weight of their other interests in policy formulation. Some Americans, lured by Japan's economic success, are frustrated by Japan's unwillingness to become an unquestioning complement to US global strategy. (This is discussed in Annex C.) Serious questions have arisen regarding the stability of the domestic political scene in both countries, with the ruling establishment in Japan now supported by only half of the electorate and facing a strong challenge from the rejuvenated left. (This is discussed more extensively in Annex A.) The Japanese are aware that President Kennedy was assassinated, President Johnson declined a second term nomination and the House of Representatives is formally considering the impeachment of President Nixon.

Before another decade has passed Japan's economy may produce a GNP greater than the USSR and perhaps a per capita GNP greater than our own. Japanese economic activities and requirements for raw materials and markets with concomitant economic influence are matters with global impact.

The bilateral issues which traditionally have plagued US-Japan relations—military bases and security arrangements, China policy, trade and monetary problems—have been reduced to manageable proportions, though none have disappeared. This relative absence of significant bilateral tensions give us an opportunity to re-examine the relationship [Page 2]to determine whether any changes are needed in our basic policies to insure continued U.S.-Japan cooperation in global and regional affairs.

In Section C we have reviewed US policy objectives to insure their relevance over the next five years and noted the constraints that Japanese needs and sensitivities impose on their attainment. We have examined existing policy guidelines to determine whether they still provide effective guidance on how we want our relations with Japan to develop globally and regionally. We have examined likely Japanese objectives and identified some potentially troublesome issues which we will continue to monitor closely.

Our consensus is that existing policy guidelines remain effective for the attainment of our objectives. We therefore recommend no change in basic US policies toward Japan.

Current Policy Guidelines

The U.S. places the highest possible value upon this partnership, and regards Japan as our major partner in Asia. We will pursue means to make the partnership equal, reciprocal, and interdependent in order to preserve its long-term viability. We will approach US-Japan multilateral cooperation from the standpoint of our overriding collective interest in a stable global environment, and will eschew short-term economic, political or other advantages in making key decisions.


We will seek to preserve the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security without amendment.

We will continue to make gradual alterations in our base structure and base utilization in Japan in order to reduce major irritants while retaining essential base functions.

We will continue to encourage Japan to make moderate increases and qualitative improvements in her defense efforts, while avoiding any pressure on her to develop substantially larger forces or to play a regional military role.


We will seek to sustain US-Japan cooperation on multilateral problems of common concern — especially the relationship between the advanced industrialized democracies, energy, international trade and monetary reform, Indochinese rehabilitation, and encouraging detente an the Korean Peninsula.

We will cooperate with the GOJ to support Japan's interest in permanent representation on the UN Security Council.


We will continue to work with Japan to strengthen our bilateral economic relationship, expand US exports and trade in both directions, keep our bilateral trade deficit within manageable limits, and liberalize access to each other's market. We expect Japan to remove remaining quotas and other import restrictions which are contrary to GATT principles.

We desire periodic meetings with Japan to assist progress toward agreed-on balance of payments goals and in implementing compatible economic policies, to identify remaining or emerging trade problems, and to work out constructive, timely solutions to common economic problems.

We will cooperate with Japan in seeking liberalization of the trade policy of the European Community, and in working toward a successful multilateral trade negotiation covering both industrial and agricultural products, reducing both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, and defining a multilateral non-discriminatory safeguard mechanism.

We will continue to urge Japan to move towards a higher level of official assistance on more concessional terms, and to cooperate with Japan in strengthening the international financial institutions for the purpose of promoting the economic development of the developing countries.

We will seek Japanese support for international monetary reform on satisfactory terms.

We will continue to cooperate with the Japanese government in seeking a multilateral approach to the energy problem, particularly with respect to promoting a reduction and stabilization of oil prices, development of additional energy sources and improved conservation techniques, and conducting cooperative energy R&D programs.

We affirm the importance of close cooperation with Japan in securing a stable supply of enriched uranium, including cooperation in the necessary research and development.

We will continue to urge the removal of obstacles to US investment in Japan, as well as continue to facilitate Japanese investment in the US.

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We will seek a broader and more balanced cooperation with Japan in the fields of science and technology.


We will work with Japan to devise improved programs of cultural and educational exchange, in order to improve our two countries' understanding of each other's cultural and social backgrounds.

The Framework of Relationships

The US and Japan have concluded the following basic agreements: a Peace Treaty (1951), Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security (1960), a Status of Forces Agreement (1960) and the Okinawa Reversion Agreement (1971), all of which remain in effect. Economic relations have been developed within the framework of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation (1953) and, more recently, through guidelines set forth in various bilateral communiqués, particularly those issued following periodic meetings of the Joint US-Japan Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs and the Nixon-Tanaka Summit Conferences of 1972 and 1973. Principles governing scientific relations and elaborating consultative machinery for nurturing those relations are embodied in a number of agreements, the most important of which are the US-Japan Atomic Energy Agreement (1968); US-Japan Communiqués establishing the Joint Committee on Scientific Cooperation (1961), the Joint Cooperative Medical Science Program (1965) and the Cooperative Program in Natural Resources (1974); and the exchange of messages between President Nixon and Prime Minister Sato establishing the US-Japan Ministerial Level Meeting on Environmental Cooperation (1970).

Within these guidelines and on the basis of present policy, we can continue to handle our bilateral problems. However, we do anticipate that there will be policy issues concerning Japan requiring decisions in the future. These issues will flow mainly from multilateral problems, among the most sensitive of which are:

Energy — This paper extensively reviews energy issues which are vital to Japan. Basic decisions on energy investment and broad policy, however, involve global tradeoffs which reach well beyond the area of US-Japan relations.

Siberian Development — This topic deserves consideration in the context of relations with the USSR and security. Japan is a major interested party with whom we have many common interests.

Access to Raw Materials and Foodstuffs — Supply to all industrialized economies, including Japan, is now a [Page 4]global issue.

Triregional Ties — This subject has been extensively studied; and is treated in this paper from the viewpoint of our relations with Japan.

International Trade, investment and Monetary Relations — Japan is a major participant in efforts to better manage these global problems.

These multilateral problems so broadly impact on the totality of our global interests that they must be dealt with functionally for the process of consideration to have integrity. To propose policy options in this Japan NSSM on issues which affect not only Japan but all other advanced industrial nations would inevitably produce unacceptable distortions in our analysis and perceptions leading to the presentation of unreal options.

[Omitted here are sections on "interests and objectives."]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–197, NSSM Files, NSSM 172 (2 of 3). Secret; Noforn. Scowcroft received the study under a covering letter, June 26, from Springsteen. The annexes to the report, on Japanese domestic political constraints, the policy background, traditional problem areas in U.S.-Japanese relations, and Japanese economic trends, are attached, but not published. Davis forwarded the report to interested departments and agencies on June 29. (Ibid.)
  2. The NSC Interdepartmental Group for East Asia and Pacific Affairs prepared a paper, on U.S. policy toward Japan, in response to NSSM 172.