DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Memorandum of Conversation
DATE: April 11, 1975
SUBJECT: US-Japan Relations
- The Secretary
- The Deputy Secretary
- Ambassador Hodgson
- Assistant Secretary Habib
- Deputy Assistant Secretary Zurhellen
- Richard Smyser, NSC
- William Sherman, EA/J(Notetaker)
- Kiichi Miyazawa, Foreign Minister
- Takeshi Yasukawa, Ambassador
- Keisuke Arita, Deputy Vice Minister
- Toshio Yamazaki, Director American Affairs Bureau
- Takakazu Kuriyama, Counselor Japanese Embassy
- Tatsuo Arima, Private Secretary to the Foreign Minister
- Ryuichiro Yamazaki, Japanese Embassy (standby interpreter)
Distribution: S/S, WH (Rodman)
SECRETARY: It used to be axiomatic among the intellectual community that Japanese-American relations were bad and we were criticized by them for making them that way. Now that we have excellent relations as far as I can see it forces our intellectuals into new lines of attack.
MR. MIYAZAWA: I made this trip primarily to get acquainted with you as you very kindly suggested shortly after I became Foreign Minister. This is the first opportunity that I have had to make the trip now that the Diet is temporarily in recess because of our local elections. I am very happy to be able to meet you and appreciate everything you have done to facilitate my visit.
THE SECRETARY: I hope we can stay in the closest contact and exchange visits reciprocally. I am prepared to visit Japan from time to time for conversations to make sure that we are thinking along parallel lines. We consider [Page 02] our relationship with Japan an absolutely essential element of our foreign policy as the President said yesterday. I hope this will be the first of many visits and look forward to seeing you in Tokyo. Our Ambassador in Tokyo is one of the few who is not trying to get my job.
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: How come you know so much? I find Japan very comfortably far away from Washington.
THE SECRETARY: I was in a panic when I saw on my calendar recently that I was attending the swearing-in of Eliot Richardson. I was glad to find out that I was swearing him in as Ambassador to Great Britain.
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: I see he is already complaining about the inadequacy of allowances like the rest of us. George Ball is certainly running for Secretary; he was trying hard last night.
THE SECRETARY: If every President had to come up with a totally new foreign policy, I shudder to think what state the world would be in. At least George Ball is consistent. When I see Bill Bundy on programs like that, I could strangle him. He was the one who got us into Vietnam, and throughout his tour in the State Department he was unable to get us out.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HABIB: Bill Bundy called me one hour before he went on television. I gave him a full, clear statement of the situation and urged him to tell it the way it was. But he didn’t support us. Nobody wants to support us except a few bureaucrats who are afraid of you.
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: That’s as revealing as our conversation with the Senators this morning.
MR. MIYAZAWA: The Senators asked me my reaction to the President’s speech. I said I was not qualified to pass on the military judgments involved, but that I had the impression that the total amount the President requested was designed not so much for military as for humanitarian purposes. I have the impression that the President was really seeking funds to provide for evacuation and humanitarian relief to Vietnam.
THE SECRETARY: Mr. Foreign Minister, the President of the United States cannot and will not after ten years of war say publicly that we are going to abandon our allies. If Congress does not wish to give us the funds necessary to do the job, that is up to them, but the President of [Page 03] the United States cannot do this. I don’t believe that you in Japan would be pleased either with such a position on the part of the President. Whatever amount of money it costs, it is not possible to think in terms solely of evacuation or of negotiations. We had to ask for the full amount necessary to do the job. The President of the United States must make the transition as painless as possible. In this indirect sense the President’s speech does represent a humanitarian effort. A year from now, when Americans begin to feel ashamed of themselves, it will be to the benefit of the President that he stood up for the right.
MR. MIYAZAWA: In many ways it seems to me that the US was involved not in a war in Vietnam, but in a cause — a cause of democracy in Vietnam. Although this has not been fully understood in Japan as a whole, there are many in Japan who did understand it, and we are sorry for the failure of the cause. It seems to me that if the people of a nation are able to help themselves and willing to fight, it will be able to withstand adversity, although of course I don’t know the full situation.
THE SECRETARY: Let me be frank. In the first place no Japanese official can say what he is really thinking at the moment. I have to take with a grain of salt, not what you have said, Mr. Minister, but what public statements are made. The President and I (with the occasional support of other members of the Government) will do the best we can to rally US public opinion. Granted the Vietnamese did not fight well, but we put them in the position where they could not. An Army that has not received any spare parts in a year, that has to ration its ammunition, and which feels it may be abandoned by its principal ally, has a hard time making any kind of concerted and organized resistance. You’re generous to absolve us from responsibility, but you can’t do that. We must be reliable and trustworthy allies. It is certainly better for you that way. Our words must mean what they say. Both the President and I will be speaking rather sternly to the US people over the next few weeks. What was done was not right. Of course I’m sure our relations with Japan are totally different, but if we do not handle our relations properly everywhere in the world, other countries must form their own opinions. If we were to try to say something different or put a totally different face on the realities of the situation in Vietnam, it would be as if after Dunkirk Churchill had said a group of Englishmen took a boat trip last Sunday.[Page 04]
MR. HABIB: Mr. Secretary I think you have found a Foreign Minister who laughs at your jokes.
THE SECRETARY: I don’t ask much of Habib except that he stop laughing at his own jokes.
MR. MIYAZAWA: I’m sure he’s occasionally very helpful to you.
THE SECRETARY: I don’t know how it is in Japan, Mr. Minister. I welcome foreign ministers here because they have to tell me what’s going on. I don’t always get this information from my subordinates.
MR. MIYAZAWA: I try to be a part of the Foreign Office. I don’t know whether you try to be a part of the State Department.
THE SECRETARY: I have said many times that if I had tried to be a Foreign Service Officer, I would not have made it because I am not qualified.
MR. HABIB: Neither am I.
THE SECRETARY: You are an FSO.
MR. HABIB: No, I was not qualified. You at least went to Harvard.
MR. MIYAZAWA: I am not sure, but have you largely dropped the idea of “sense of mission” which you had in Vietnam?
THE SECRETARY: That’s probably true. I have learned one more lesson. When you are in high office, you have two choices, you can use force or not use force, but you must use it only one way — to win. No one wins any awards for using force moderately. You must be effective. President Johnson involved the United States in two military actions abroad — the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. Most intellectuals and newspapers opposed the intervention in the Dominican Republic, and most of them at that time supported our intervention in Vietnam. We put in so much force into the Dominican Republic that it was settled within a very short time. But in Vietnam we escalated our strength so gradually that it was always too little and became a cancer. When President Nixon and I started trying to end our involvement, we were hampered in any kind of effective prosecution of the war because the public had already begun to require the US to withdraw its troops.
MR. MIYAZAWA: I believe everybody in Japan understands the difficulty of your situation in Vietnam. We hope that you can handle it in an orderly way and with dignity.[Page 05]
THE SECRETARY: When we came into office, there were already 550,000 us troops in Vietnam whom Bundy and others had put there,
THE SECRETARY: Let’s turn to US-Japanese relations. What is our biggest problem?
MR. MIYAZAWA: I see nothing of an immediate or serious nature. We may have some problems in the Diet because of the Vietnam situation. I say so because the Foreign Minister is always subject to harsh questioning about Japanese cooperation with United States policies in Vietnam. With Vietnam ended, the opposition will lose this issue.
THE SECRETARY: Our opposition is infinitely ingenious in finding new issues when they lose one.
MR. MIYAZAWA: Exactly.
THE SECRETARY: I had a member of my staff make a study trying to find out how much peace we could buy from the New York Times if we did exactly what they advised us to do.
He consistently found that under the best circumstances we could be immune from criticism for as much as three months, but usually it was no more than three weeks.[Page 06]
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: We take it as a rule of thumb that when an appointment is announced, the longest the incumbent can go without press attack is three months.
MR. MIYAZAWA: Our history of democracy in Japan is so short. Our parties have not yet learned how to cooperate or work constructively together to develop bipartisan positions.
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: Your opposition is not strong enough. It is totally unprepared to do anything but oppose the policies of the government party.
MR. MIYAZAWA. The problem is also complicated by the fact that the LDP is the only party with power, and has been except for a very brief period throughout the whole post-war experience. All lines of authority and all positions both in the Parliament and in the government are controlled by the Liberal Democratic Party. All the opposition can do is collect information and attack.
AMBASSADOR YASUKAWA: You know in our Parliament we have a provision for going into what you call executive session; however, an executive session has never been held in Japan.
THE SECRETARY: You know, Mr. Ambassador, when I have executive sessions with the Senate on Middle East questions, the Israeli Ambassador calls me to register his views on what I have said before I even see the transcript myself — no, that’s an exaggeration. They’re usually very good about preserving executive session secrecy especially in the Senate. The House may be a little different.
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: We walked out of our meeting with the Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee this morning with stars in our eyes after a truly ringing endorsement by Senator Humphrey of the importance of Japan-US relations.
THE SECRETARY: He can do it either way; you just have to tell him in advance. No, I really love him, he is one of the great human beings in our society.
MR. MIYAZAWA: In our Parliament we are organized in such a way that nothing can be passed without the permission of the minority. Japanese democracy is still in its infantile stage; so much that there is a question of how you do it rather than what you do.
THE SECRETARY: I must tell you the Japanese decision—making process absolutely fascinates me. When you don’t want to do something, you find it impossible to find a person within authority. But when you do want to do something, you have the ability to set priorities and act as rapidly as you choose. The consensus building process is not one of simply making compromises—you make good sound decisions. The way you have handled is amazing. You have been able to contain the impact without big speeches, without fanfare but in an efficient and expert way and that has been very good. When I first came to Washington, I was under the impression that you could simply go to the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister with a problem and get his agreement and rely on his decision. I didn’t realize that this was not the way decisions are made in Japan.
AMBASSADOR YASUKAWA: Have you got an example?
THE SECRETARY: Well the textile problem is an example. The textile negotiations shouldn’t ever have been raised.[Page 07]
I won’t tell you what I think of our textile people. We made a mistake in thinking we should concentrate our influence on the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister. We didn’t realize that in Japan you have to make decisions from the ground up, in your normal way.
MR. MIYAZAWA: You are right. It is quite possible to develop new and even audacious decisions in Japan, but they do not come out of the leadership without careful groundwork.
THE SECRETARY: Mr. Foreign Minister, you can do that only in a society with a great sense of cohesion and shared values. This is one of the most extraordinary things about Japan.
MR. MIYAZAWA: In general you think of Orientals as very gentle and calm people and so they are, but they can be nasty once in a great while. You may be thinking of this in dealing with Vietnam.
THE SECRETARY: Yes, it could be a catastrophic situation.
THE SECRETARY: Is the Prime Minister thinking of making a visit before the Emperor comes in October?
MR. MIYAZAWA: Yes, I told Secretary Ingersoll yesterday that the Prime Minister would like to visit sometime between the end of July or early August.
THE SECRETARY: What would you think of early August. I will check with the President; we may be at the European Security Conference in July.
AMBASSADOR YASUKAWA: Will you be meeting with Brezhnev then?
THE SECRETARY: No, not at that time.
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: Mr. Secretary, I think the Minister would like very much to have a precise date that we could set the meeting.
THE SECRETARY: I’m practically certain that the first week in August — or let us say between August first and 10th — would be fine. Would the Prime Minister wish to come here or should we meet at some other location?
MR. MIYAZAWA: We would be very pleased to come here.
THE SECRETARY: That will he fine with us.[Page 08]
MR. MIYAZAWA: Our current Diet session is supposed to end about May 25; however, because of the pressure of business and treaties up for ratification, it will probably be extended at least a month and possibly two, so the first week in August would probably be quite satisfactory from our point of view.
THE SECRETARY: Why don’t we say between the first and 10th of August. What time are you leaving tomorrow. I will call you.
MR. MIYAZAWA: A little after nine.
THE SECRETARY (rising): Mr. Foreign Minister I won’t make a very long speech. First of all let me express my regrets again for my inability to meet with you yesterday and also express my great gratitude for your generous understanding of my problem. As you know I was totally tied up with the draft speech which we were preparing for the President that evening. Mr. Foreign Minister, I have rarely participated in any event in which I could sense the immediate change that I did when the President visited Japan last year. I had regarded the visit as largely a ceremonial one, because, of course, we were aware of the political situation in Japan. But the depth of feeling for peace and continued close friendship between our countries that was symbolized by the meeting of His Imperial Majesty and the President and further developed in our conversations in Tokyo led me to realize how much the visit meant in terms of our mutual relations. I have expressed my great admiration for the extraordinary achievement of Japan over the past twenty-five years, and I want to reiterate that I attach the greatest importance to the maintenance of close and friendly relations with Japan and to our mutual interests in the Pacific. Our task is to maintain this friendship with full consultation. I count very much on the close personal relationship which I have now established with you and hope to maintain a strong and lasting friendship with you. I would like to drink a toast to your visit, Mr. Minister, and to you and your party who can be with us today.
MR. MIYAZAWA: Mr. Secretary thank you very much for your hospitality and your warm words of welcome. We are very grateful for this lunch, indeed for the extraordinary luck we have had in being at this table for two days in a row. We fully understand the great problems that faced you yesterday and are grateful for the time that you have been able to devote to us today. When I went to Moscow last January, your friend Brezhnev did not ever appear during the full three days I was there. As you said, Mr. Secretary, [Page 09] our relations are very good. When I left Japan I had a message from the Imperial Court telling me that Their Imperial Majesties still remember with great pleasure and affection the visit of the President last year and are looking forward to seeing President and Mrs. Ford and the American people when they come to the United States later this year. We are grateful for all that your Government has been doing not only for Japan, but for peace in the world and we do appreciate this occasion to meet and discuss our mutual problems. We have jointly many world problems to solve. Happily we have few serious bilateral ones. I would like to offer my toast to the continuation of these most cordial and close relations.
THE SECRETARY: Mr. Foreign Minister, I wanted to arrange a meeting for you with the President. Is your departure flexible? For example if I could get an appointment with the President tomorrow morning would you be able to see him.
AMBASSADOR YASUKAWA: The Foreign Minister’s plane leaves at 10:00 and makes connection in New York for direct flight to Tokyo.
MR. MIYAZAWA (to Ambassador Yasukawa): Don’t worry about our convenience, that makes no difference. (To the Secretary) Anything can be done on my part, Mr. Secretary. But please don’t try too hard. I know how busy the President is. I would of course be very grateful if I could be received; however, I don’t want you to try too hard.
THE SECRETARY: I’m practically certain I can arrange it. I’ll call as soon as we go to my office. I’m making a mistake to tell you. If I can’t do it, you’ll think I have no influence.
MR. MIYAZAWA: You’ve already done so much. I’ve had good talks with you — and pictures to prove it.
THE SECRETARY: Will that help?
MR. MIYAZAWA: Yes, in my campaign.
THE SECRETARY: Do you have to have new elections after a new Prime Minister has taken office?
MR. MIYAZAWA. Yes, definitely. We will have them but probably not for a while. One thing we can’t do is have elections while the Emperor is away.
THE SECRETARY: Would you like us to keep him here?[Page 10]
I’m planning to give a speech in mid-June on Japan-US relations. This is the only speech I have ever given devoted to a single country. My staff told me I had to.
MR. HABIB: We only presented you with the opportunity.
THE SECRETARY: Any thing good or easy, they do. All Vietnam matters for example, are referred to me for immediate decision.
MR. MIYAZAWA: That is what Secretaries are for.
THE SECRETARY: I thought that given the importance of our relations with Japan I have sufficient reason to devote the time to make a speech solely on this subject. You must tell me whether I should be friendly or unfriendly. What would help in your election? Seriously, if there are points that would be particularly desirable to include, or points of special sensitivity or special importance, I would be happy, to include them. I’m very serious, I would greatly welcome your views and suggestions. Please pass them on to Ambassador Hodgson in Tokyo. Also I would like very much to hear from Ambassador Yasukawa here. I will probably begin working on the speech in mid-May.
THE SECRETARY (to Yasukawa): Are you coming to New York?
AMBASSADOR YASUKAWA: Yes, if I’m invited. I already have been told that I probably would be.
MR. MIYAZAWA: The Japanese will certainly look forward to hearing what you have to say. Whatever analysis you might make as a historian of the Japanese people and their role in the world today would be most welcome to us.
THE SECRETARY: You certainly turned my wife into a great fan of Japan. It was very expensive for me. I now have a house full of Japanese art — screens, prints, I like them very much.
MR. INGERSOLL: You have a Hoshi.
THE SECRETARY: What?
MR. INGERSOLL: A tree.
THE SECRETARY: Oh, the tree. Unfortunately, that was for the President. But I bought a good deal of screens and other things.[Page 11]
AMBASSADOR HODGSON: One of my problems is that my wife has discovered Japanese art and pottery.
MR. MIYAZAWA: Excuse me, Mr. Secretary, but how often do you have dinner at home?
THE SECRETARY: I’m afraid not more than once in two weeks.
MR. HABIB: You should ask his staff how often they eat dinner.
THE SECRETARY: Mr. Habib is a combination of self-pity and paranoia. Habib will work twenty hours a day if once in a while you will let him feel sorry for himself. You read about bad morale in the Department. They all think I oppress them.
MR. MIYAZAWA: I hear you first met Mr. Habib in Saigon?
MR. HABIB: He tells that story all the time.
THE SECRETARY: He threw me out of his office.
MR. HABIB: He has been throwing me out ever since.
THE SECRETARY: That was the beginning of the decline of everything.
MR. MIYAZAWA: I visited Saudi Arabia recently.
THE SECRETARY: While King Faisal was alive?
MR. MIYAZAWA: No, for the funeral.
THE SECRETARY: Did you see the new King?
MR. MIYAZAWA: Yes, and the Crown Prince. The atmosphere was very tense. I found the King very confused.
THE SECRETARY: I envy you your delicacy of expression. The Crown Prince is the strong man. However, we can’t tell just what the political situation is. It is clear that the King can’t govern by himself, but it is not clear whose influence is strong among the people around him. Prince Fahd is clearly an able man, but not necessarily the strongest.
AMBASSADOR YASUKAWA: You told me King Faisal prayed for you five times a day. Is the new King still praying?[Page 12]
MR. MIYAZAWA: No, the Crown Prince.
THE SECRETARY: It is not an easy thing to conduct a consecutive conversation with the new King over an extended period of time. I know the Crown Prince very well and he is a close personal friend. He is not as religious as his half-brother. I doubt whether he is praying for me. But it is a difficult problem. King Faisal was a religious mystic but he was a very intelligent man. He was absolutely reliable. A Bedouin, and very wise. He knew the weakness of Saudi Arabia and he never allowed it to over involve itself. Although he could sound like a religious nut, he was always on the side of moderation in his dealings with the United States. Fahd is easier to talk to, not so exalted, also a friend of mine and personally very close. But he does not have so much influence with his people. He may be more tempted to use the $100 billion of reserves they have accumulated for his own purposes. It is a much more problematical situation. Did you ever meet Faisal?
MR. MIYAZAWA: Yes, in Japan.
THE SECRETARY: The first time I met him I thought he was a real fanatic. The longer I knew him the more I realized that he was a truly remarkable person. I’m going to write a book about the Arabs. I really think they are the most fascinating people in the world. Everybody thinks I’m going to write my autobiography, my memoirs, but my main interest is in the Arabs.
THE SECRETARY: Do you remember Omar Saquaaf?
MR. MIYAZAWA: Yes.
THE SECRETARY: Omar Saquaaf spoke English better than I do and is a good friend with whom I had had many conversations. But one day I arrived in Saudi Arabia and he would not even speak English to me. He was surrounded by advisers. I kept saying, “Omar, come off it”, but he continued to speak through an interpreter. I noticed that he had five advisers so I told him, “I’m throwing mine out of the room, so under the rules of Arab courtesy you must throw yours out too.” He kept his interpreter. Finally I threw out my interpreter, and he responded. I said to him, “Now, Omar what goes on?” Then he told me that Yamani had visited the United States and had been invited to Secretary Simon’s house for dinner. When Omar Saquaaf had come he had not been invited by me, and he was humiliated by Yamani’s lording it over him when he returned to Saudi Arabia. But he hadn’t understood I didn’t even have a house then. I lived in an apartment too small to entertain anyone. When I explained, he learned English again. (At this point the lunch ended.)[Page 13]
After lunch the principals adjourned to the Secretary’s office to continue the discussion. Present were the Secretary, the Foreign Minister, the Deputy Secretary, Ambassador Hodgson, Ambassador Yasukawa, Mr. Habib, Mr. Arita, and Mr. Yamazaki:
MIYAZAWA: Mr. Secretary, since we have covered so much in the meeting with Secretary Ingersoll yesterday, I think we can make this meeting short. The first thing I would like to bring up is the Prime Minister’s visit.
THE SECRETARY: I think we can count on a visit between the first and the tenth of August. I will have to check that with the President, but I am sure it will be all right.
MIYAZAWA: I have brought with me a message for the President and will give it to him tomorrow morning when I see him.
The question of security is important for Japan and I would like to talk about that. As you know we are considering ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The government will try to introduce the NPT at the current Diet session. In that connection the Diet will be discussing security. Your Ambassador and our people in Tokyo have achieved a meeting of the minds on how we can phrase a statement on the general security matter. I would like you to confirm or verify your agreement to that statement.
THE SECRETARY: Yes, it is agreeable to me. I see it as press guidance. Do you want us to say it to our press?
MIYAZAWA: Yes, if you are asked.
INGERSOLL: We will give it out as press guidance.
THE SECRETARY: Let me have a word with you on oil policy and the question of the minimum oil import price. I have the impression that there is some misunderstanding about this. There really are two points: 1) the price of non-OPEC oil, and 2) the price of OPEC oil. We want to bring down the price of OPEC oil. Therefore we need to develop alternative sources of non-OPEC oil. If we don’t, prices will stay up, but if we develop alternate sources, stability can be achieved. We would be happy to have other countries help develop our oil resources, and we are prepared to work jointly with other countries in developing their resources.[Page 14]
Each country would share in the development of their own potential supply and would join in protecting the price of new oil by mutual agreement. If Japan wants to buy oil below that level, that would be all right so long as it does not sell below that level. If you can get oil at $4 per barrel and then put a tariff on it of $3, that would be satisfactory. Then OPEC would not be able to defend its monopoly by selling below the price of oil from new sources. If OPEC could wreck new sources of supply, it could raise prices again. If the OPEC members came to us when oil prices were $10.89 per barrel and said they would reduce it to $7.50 in return for a five-year agreement, we would have to look at it, but this is not a current issue and I know of no country to whom they have made such a proposal.
MIYAZAWA: I see your rationale.
THE SECRETARY: So you see the rationale for a floor price. I don’t care about the floor price, really, hut rather the development of alternate sources. When we get alternate sources, we can compete. Without floor prices we won’t get alternate sources.
MIYAZAWA: How much will it cost to produce oil from alternate sources?
THE SECRETARY: We think about $7.00 per barrel. Some would cost more than$7.00. Each country can develop oil from new sources. Some might be able to do it for less.
INGERSOLL: There is some off-shore ail which might be interesting for Japan.
MIYAZAWA: Milton Friedman wrote an article recently in Newsweek on this. It seemed to be a total misconception.
THE SECRETARY: Friedman thought I was trying to protect the price of OPEC oil. Actually, I am trying to protect the price of oil from alternate sources. He totally misunderstood our proposal.
We have no interest in protecting the price of OPEC oil. If they sell it to us at $2 per barrel, we don’t care, so long as we don’t sell at $2. We want to protect alternate sources. The purpose is to drive down OPEC prices.
MIYAZAWA: I think you are right. The price of alternate source oil could be anything, maybe $5 or $12, but we would [Page 15] give them an incentive. Alternate energy prices would thus be higher.
THE SECRETARY: Just so long as it is below the present world price. The world price would not be given protection. For example, a $7 price would be below the current world price. We won’t protect a world price over$10.
I would also like to talk to you about the problem of world grain reserves. I understand you have some difficulties with this concept and I would like to explain our analysis of that situation. Mr. Ingersoll mentioned to me that you are concerned that, if Japan maintained grain reserves, these would present a target for LDC’s which might at some future time face food deficits. I am not sure how I can answer that concern.
INGERSOLL: There would be no call on Japan to give away reserves. The cost of maintaining grain reserves would be included in the price of grain when it is sold.
THE SECRETARY: It would be well for Japan to acquire reserves, although that won’t solve the problem you have.
INGERSOLL: Japan would have full control over its reserves.
THE SECRETARY: Perhaps you would have to look at grain reserves as an aid program, if you had to make shipments to deficit countries.
MIYAZAWA: I suppose so.
I would like to have your insights on the Middle East situation.
THE SECRETARY: Certainly. The Arabs and Israelis deserve each other. If they were located anywhere else in the world, we would let them have a go at each other. Unfortunately they are located in a strategic place. I will be frank with you. The Israelis thought we were weak and that I needed a success. These factors combined to make them intractable. We are not that weak. Congress cannot conduct foreign policy. It can vote money, but it can’t conduct foreign policy. Previous experience has made that clear. The fact is that no one can make peace in the Middle East except us. If we support Israel, there will be no progress. There might be war, but no progress. So we won’t be pushed. The Soviets understand that and do not push us because they know we can produce results. So we are engaged [Page 16] in a reappraisal on our part. I think it is still possible that there will be an agreement between Egypt and Israel. If not, we will go to Geneva. With patience there will be progress. Next time we move it will succeed because we won’t move unless we know that an agreement is achievable.
We have six months to make progress before the situation gets tense. We are determined to succeed. Maybe there can be some interim agreements and then an overall approach. We won’t let the situation get out of control. All this is to Japan’s benefit.
The last break-up of talks had benefits. First, it taught the Israelis and Egyptians that they can’t get along without us. Ever the Soviets know that. Second, it forced us to initiate a domestic debate. Third, Congress is not going to fight us on this. It can’t interfere with our policies in Vietnam and toward Israel both at the same time. The US Congress may look strong, but we can’t operate on the basis of what they are saying. It won’t make any difference what Congress does. In Geneva or in Iran or elsewhere in the Middle East we can do what we want. We arc engaged in a war of nerves now. As the President said, we will not tolerate a stalemate which would risk a new outbreak of war. We want to make progress. Sadat thinks so too or he wouldn’t be so quiet. For a few weeks we will keep a low profile.
MIYAZAWA: By your absence you can let your presence be known. It is also clear that your government is strong enough to accept realities, don’t you think? I would also like to ask whether Syria will let the UN units stationed in the Middle East remain until the end of May.
THE SECRETARY: Your first observation is a good one. There is certainly no doubt about our strength.
The situation of the previous Syrian government was inconceivable. Syria was tough but not reliable. Egypt announced agreement to a three-month extension of the UNEF. Syria now seems willing to extend the UN presence for two months, thus ending both groups at the same time. The real problem is at the end of July.
If has been a pleasure to meet with you, Mr. Minister.
I hope that I may see you tomorrow morning with the President.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P–820125–0547. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Sherman and approved by Covey. On May 27, Kissinger and Miyazawa met in Paris at the U.S. mission to the OECD and discussed Southeast Asia, China, and the Middle East. (Ibid., P–820125–0295)↩
- Kissinger and Miyazawa discussed Vietnam, Japanese politics, the Middle East, and other issues touching on U.S. relations with Japan.↩