205. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Nixon, Washington, August 2, 1975.1 2


August 2, 1975


From: Henry A. Kissinger [HK initialed]

Subject: The Visit of Japanese Prime Minister Miki

I. The Setting — Japan in 1975

Prime Minister Miki comes to Washington at a time when our bilateral relations with Japan are in solid shape; there are no major issues to be resolved at the Summit level. The visit also occurs, however, at a critical moment in the evolution of Japan's post-war foreign policy orientation and its domestic politics. A number of relatively fixed elements in Japan's political firmament have been challenged severely in the last several years and the premises of many traditional policies have had to be reexamined. Recent developments — most notably the energy crisis, and the collapse of our own policies in Indochina — have given this process of policy review an emphatic impetus. Above all the Japanese are preoccupied with:

  • — reconsidering their security policy in the more fluid international environment of post-Vietnam Asia;
  • — positioning themselves within the Major Power balance in the Far East;
  • — fashioning positions on multilateral economic issues which reflect their continued dependence on us and their desire to diversify their economic ties with other advanced and developing countries, as well as their need to cope with perceived vulnerabilities to disruptions of supply and manipulations of the price of energy and essential commodities;
  • — mobilizing public support for new foreign and domestic policies during a period of flux and transition in Japanese party politics.

A. Security: New Perspectives

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Throughout the past two decades conservative governments in Japan have sought security through alignment with the United States, development of a broad industrial base, maintenance of only modest conventional defense forces, and pursuit of so-called "peace diplomacy" vis-a-vis Japan's major Communist neighbors. Security issues have rarely been the subject of detached and unemotional debate; the consensus supporting GOJ security policies did not include the opposition, and those policies have been grist for partisan attack in the Diet.

Recently Japan's security interests and policies have been the subject of an unprecedented public discussion. In part this was prompted by the tense Diet and media debate of the nuclear transit issue last summer. It was further stimulated by prolonged debate of NPT ratification this spring, but most decisively, by the failure of US policy in Indochina — a development which served to remind the Japanese that the East Asian political environment is not immutable. This has made them more attentive to other features of the landscape and raised questions in Japan about US staying power in the Pacific, and has encouraged greater public tolerance for more objective consideration of the basic issues of national security. Members of the cabinet in turn have been testing the implications of these emerging public attitudes on a variety of fronts — by asserting more forthrightly Japan's stake in the stability of South Korea, by publicly proposing increased defense cooperation with the United States, and by advocating some extension of Japan's self-defense responsibilities, such as wider maritime patrolling.

In many respects this is a hopeful development. Past constraints on our ability to discuss openly security issues of mutual concern with Japanese authorities may be relaxed. Japan's capacity for conventional defense of its own territories and its willingness to assume broader political responsibilities in Asia may grow, thereby complementing our efforts and reducing our burdens. At the same time, Japan's re-thinking of its defense role has not approached — and is unlikely to approach — a point where it might cause unease in other capitals or threaten [Page 03]to upset the major power equilibrium of the region. Nonetheless, there are a few areas in which Japanese attitudes and policies have given us little comfort — in part because of the new candor with which defense issues are treated. In the recent give-and-take of Diet debate on security matters, the Miki administration has been pressed by the opposition into statements that in the end may prove more restrictive than before on several key issues, including nuclear transit and the question of Japanese commitments concerning the use of bases in Japan in the event of Korean contingencies.

Beyond this, there is the question of where adjustments in Japanese defense policy, once begun, may ultimately lead. Miki is proceeding with caution, and the political environment — not to mention formal constitutional limitations — still enforces tight constraints on Japanese defense programs. At this point it is difficult to predict how far the emerging discussion of security issues may carry or how long it will take to forge a new consensus, but the process is likely to be prolonged.

B. Japan and East Asia

The Japanese recognize that peace and stability in East Asia depend upon Major Power equilibrium. The erosion of our position in Southeast Asia has had some subtle effects on Japan's diplomatic calculations. Both the Russians and Chinese — anticipating some recession of American power in the Far East — have intensified their courtship of Japan. This has crystallized a larger issue in Japan's foreign policy: how should they position themselves in relation to the Sino-Soviet rivalry. Miki is persuaded that Japan-China friendship is essential to Asian stability. Foreign Ministry specialists are equally emphatic about the importance of maintaining parallel and "balanced" relations with the Soviet Union. Yet Japan has had little success dealing with either of its major Communist neighbors; recently it has been exposed to the hard-nosed diplomatic tactics of each. China has pushed for the inclusion of an "anti-hegemony" clause with transparent anti-Soviet intent in the Peace and Friendship Treaty they are negotiating; the Soviets have been equally heavy-handed in seeking to obstruct this result.

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Apart from its effects on Japan's approach to the major Communist powers, the collapse of Indochina has also heightened Japanese sensitivity to the dangers of armed conflict in Korea, and has altered the context for their own policies in Southeast Asia — eliminating their need to tailor Japanese policies to American military requirements in Indochina, but pushing them into an unaccustomed position in the foreground as a partner of the ASEAN nations and a potential interlocutor with the Communist states of Indochina.

C. Economic Problems

Into the 1970s, Japan compiled one of the world's most enviable records of economic growth. More recently, Tokyo has rediscovered the inherent vulnerabilities of its economy. A combination of factors — rising commodity prices, the sensitivities of its trading partners, accumulating environmental problems, etc. — have forced the Japanese to adjust downward their expectations of long-term growth. Today the notion of Japan as a permanently competitive world trader and perpetual economic growth machine is on its way to being outmoded.

In adjusting to new economic realities, Japan has increasingly accepted responsibility for participating in the multilateral search for more effective and more equitable guidelines for managing key international economic issues. In those negotiations — e.g. food, energy, trade, etc. — the GOJ has been attentive to our interests. At the same time, it has sought to avoid any confrontations with OPEC, and the LDCs generally, upon whom it depends for many raw materials.

D. Miki in Japan's Political Spectrum

Miki became Prime Minister last December as a compromise candidate of a deeply divided party whose popular base has been declining for some years. Within the LDP his position remains somewhat shaky. His is the smallest of the LDP's major factions. Miki is something of a maverick — a reformer in a party committed to the status quo, his own man in a party which puts a premium on playing along, a politician without strong ties with business or the bureaucracy, [Page 05]traditional prerequisites for post-war premiers.

Nevertheless, his rivals for the top job effectively cancel each other out, and in their divisions Miki has found a source of staying power. Miki's "clean" and "progressive" image, moreover, has given him substantial popularity with the public and with the media. Within the Diet, contrary to expectations, he has proved to be a tough, shrewd, and surprisingly successful tactician. He has championed controversial measures with a parliamentary strategy quite unorthodox for Japanese Conservatives — i.e. cooperation and dialogue with the opposition parties. Through this strategy Miki seeks both to compensate for his weakness within the LDP and to co-opt elements of the opposition — particularly the Socialists — into a more responsible role.

To date this strategy has yielded mixed results. Miki did achieve passage of several important domestic reform bills, and the Socialists have been drawn into the role of loyal opposition. However, he failed to muster the necessary support for NPT ratification, or to attain a party consensus on handling the "anti-hegemony" issue with the PRC. Moreover, his tactics have antagonized important elements within the LDP, alienated some segments of the bureaucracy and big business, and conceded somewhat greater influence over key policy matters to opposition circles which in the past have been among the more ardent critics of US-Japan relations.

Miki's ties with the US are a matter of record. During the intensely nationalist 1930's, he chose to study abroad at an American university (Southern California, 1931-35). As a young Diet member in the later 1930's he advocated improved Japan-US relations at a time when it was dangerous to do so. Since the war, he has served twice as Foreign Minister and once as Minister of International Trade and Industry with extensive and generally favorable contact among a wide variety of US officials. At the outset of his administration last December, he described the US relationship as "first and foremost" for Japan. He has continued to speak, in public as well as private, of his fundamental conviction that Japan's strong relationship with the US is essential. At the same time, however, he has appeared to feel a domestic political need to preserve an [Page 06]impression of some independence from the US; he refrained from Japanese-initiated top-level contact with Washington for some months after he assumed office, although this was largely interpreted at home as an effort to support his focus on domestic reforms. In part, his inclination toward independence fits with Japan's expanding international status; in part it may also reflect Miki's personal notion of how Japan should proceed in relations with us.

It is unclear how long Miki may remain in power. It is generally believed that he will convene a special Diet session in September and, following the Emperor's visit to the US, dissolve the Diet and call elections before the end of the year. With that in mind, Miki will be eager to extract political benefits from his trip to the US. Since his conservative critics have sought to brand him only lukewarm toward the US, he clearly hopes that successful consultations with you will strengthen his position within the party and enhance his image as an effective national leader.

II. Purpose, Key Issues and Strategy

A. Purpose

In making this his first foreign travel, Miki reaffirms the importance Japan places upon its relations with the United States, and emphasizes his desire to establish a personal relationship with you. Your last meeting with Miki was in January, 1974, when he visited Washington as Deputy Prime Minister. Miki has indicated that he hopes the summit discussions will be broad and conceptual, and that, in the absence of any serious bilateral problems, there can be open and candid exchanges on important issues. Miki considers Asian security issues to be a prime topic for discussion, although he will probably wish to treat them in rather generalized strategic terms. He will wish to reconfirm the importance of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty. Miki will of course be interested in your upcoming trip to China and Brezhnev's visit to Washington. In addition to these matters, Miki will wish to insure that Japanese views on the major multilateral economic issues — energy, food and trade — are understood in Washington, and will wish to touch on relations between developed and developing nations, a problem he believes will continue to grow in importance in coming years. Finally, Miki is hopeful that a successful visit will strengthen his political position at home.

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Your purpose during this visit will be:

  • — to establish a personal relationship with Miki and reaffirm the fundamental importance we place upon our relations with Japan;
  • — to affirm the steadfastness of our approach toward Asia, particularly Korea, in the aftermath of Indochina;
  • — to encourage Japanese policies in East Asia which support our own efforts to promote a stable equilibrium in the area.
  • — to deepen Japan's understanding of and elicit its support for our initiatives on energy, food and trade;
  • — to reach agreement on a joint communique embodying these elements and underlining our shared goals, the only document to be negotiated during the Summit.

B. The Key Issues

1. US-Japan Security Cooperation

We believe that the GOJ's efforts to develop a political consensus in Japan in favor of closer US-Japan defense cooperation is helpful to our long term interests. However, while we would welcome a modest upgrading of Japan's air and maritime defenses, we have no interest in stimulating substantial increases in the size of Japan's armed forces or their assumption of overseas security responsibilities. Given the political sensitivities on these issues in Japan, we must allow the Japanese leaders to control the scope and pace of the movement toward greater cooperation. You will wish to mention our desire to increase defense cooperation, but in order to avoid the impression that we are pressing the Japanese, we do not believe it advisable to pursue the subject in detail. We prefer to allow this rather fragile process to evolve slowly and naturally. Secretary Schlesinger will visit Japan at the end of August and Japanese Defense Agency Director Sakata may come to the US later in the year, and these visits will provide further opportunities to discuss the details and nurture the formation of a favorable consensus in Japan.

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You should also be aware that a potentially serious bilateral security issue has arisen as a result of recent GOJ statements during Diet interpellations [text not declassified] This issue is discussed in detail at Tab II. A. of the accompanying briefing material.

2. Relations with the Major Communist Powers

Japan's attempts to achieve a balanced pattern of relations with China and the Soviet Union generally parallel our own. The GOJ normalized relations with Peking in 1972, and its trade with the PRC has expanded dramatically. Recent Chinese statements on the "anti-hegemony" issue, while reaffirming the need for such a clause in their treaty with Japan, have been couched in terms designed to make it more palatable to the Japanese (they have noted, for example, that the US-China Shanghai Communique included similar language) and the impasse may be broken. Japan has also broadened its relationship with the Soviet Union, especially in the economic field.

Prime Minister Miki will be interested in your views on the state of our relations with Peking and Moscow, and in particular your expectations with respect to your visit to Peking and Brezhnev's visit to Washington. You should affirm our intention to continue to pursue detente with Moscow and to develop our relationship with Peking. You should also stress our belief that the interests of both our countries will be well served by maintaining complementary policies toward the major Communist powers, and that we will continue our practice of close consultation with the GOJ to this end.

3. Korea

In the past two years, Japanese-Korean relations have been strained by a number of incidents. Recognizing that a special effort was required by Japan, Miki sent Foreign Minister Miyazawa to Seoul July 23-24 in order to get the relationship back on the track. We are hopeful that the Japanese and South Koreans may now have put their difficulties behind them. Japan has also indicated it intends to increase the level of its economic assistance [Page 09]to Korea, has slowed the pace of non-governmental exchanges with North Korea, and has been forthright in acknowledging its stake in ROK stability and security.

You will wish to reaffirm directly to Miki our steadfast commitment to the preservation of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and express our hope that Japan-ROK relations will continue to improve. You should stress our appreciation for Japan's active cooperation in handling the Korean question at the UN, and the caution it has exercised in its limited relations with North Korea. You might also portray for Prime Minister Miki the domestic political pressures we face on Korean issues and the consequent importance to us of Japanese statements which recognize a stake in Korean security and offer support for our policies on the Peninsula.

4. Southeast Asia, post-Indochina

Japan views its interests and overall objectives in Southeast Asia as generally similar to ours. The GOJ was deeply concerned by the Communist victories in Indochina and what those events might portend for the security of other Southeast Asian nations as well as for US policies in the region. Prime Minister Miki will wish to know how we view political and security conditions in the region, and how we envisage our own future role there. The Japanese have indicated that they intend to strengthen their cooperation with the non-Communist governments of the region (and have recently sent a high-level mission to the area to assess prospects for such cooperation). They are at the same time seeking to establish formal relations with the Communist governments of Indochina, an effort with which we do not take issue. You will wish to reaffirm to Miki our intention to continue playing an active, stabilizing role in Southeast Asia, and to stress our hope that Japan and the United States will continue to pursue complementary policies toward the region, including in the area of economic assistance. You should also emphasize the desirability of continuing close consultations between us on our respective plans and policies in Southeast Asia.

5. Oil Consumer Cooperation and the IEA

Miki will assure you that Japan remains committed to [Page 10]consumer cooperation in the IEA. But he is skeptical that the US, given Congressional resistance, can deliver on either conservation or alternative sources. In particular he will probe you about the US proposed minimum safeguard price for imported oil (MSP). The GOJ is reluctant to take the MSP to the Diet — where it will be attacked as benefitting only the energy-rich IEA countries — and is not yet convinced that the US will not eventually drop the MSP proposal.

You should commend Japan for its constructive role in the IEA. You should describe to Miki the struggle on oil decontrol, conveying your determination to put it across as the key both to our conservation and alternative sources policy. You should add that while we must begin urgently to talk to the producers, they will never take us seriously until we have adopted serious measures to reduce our long-term dependence. That means we must complete our national energy policies in the US and Japan this summer and fall. Then we must relate them in the package deal the IEA now plans for December 1. Minimum Safeguard Price is only one part of that package deal, but it is an indispensable part.

6. Oil Price Hike/Consumer-Producer Relations

Japan is acutely concerned that an oil price increase in October will retard world economic recovery, re-stimulate inflation, and exacerbate balance of payments problems. Miki agrees with your view that any increase is unjustified and he may suggest that the US take the lead to somehow induce the producers not to raise prices. Yet, because of Japan's heavy dependence on OPEC oil, he would not support action that would appear confrontational. Miki will reconfirm Japan's desire to resume the producer-consumer dialogue and may suggest that we have a meeting with producers before the September OPEC meeting to try to head off a price rise.

While admitting that we cannot prevent new price increases, you could indicate that we have made clear to producers our opposition to further price hikes. You should note our hope that efforts to resume the producer/consumer dialogue will have a moderating [Page 11]influence on the OPEC price deliberations. We believe sufficient agreement can be achieved so that the scenario for the dialogue can be announced before the end of August, but the meeting itself could not take place until October.

7. The Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN)

Japan is a firm advocate of the current Tokyo round and believes progress in the MTN is essential to restrain worldwide protectionist pressures. The only real difference between the US and Japan is in our approaches toward negotiations on agricultural trade. The Japanese favor the European position, which would separate talks on agricultural trade from the rest of the negotiations. We, on the other hand, want agricultural and industrial products to be treated together so that we could trade US concessions on industrial items for improved access for our agricultural exports in foreign markets, including Japan.

STR Ambassador Dent visited Tokyo in late June to explain our belief that agreement between the major actors in the MTN (including the US, Japan, and the EC) on work priorities is essential if early progress is to be made. We are pleased that the MTN Negotiating Committee recently endorsed this approach in principle. We would like to see significant progress on a number of items in 1976-77, in order to stave off protectionist pressures and to minimize a final crush of business toward the end of the negotiations.

8. Grain Reserves System

Japan is prepared to go along with our policy of initiating negotiations on a Grain Reserves System through the International Wheat Council but is convinced that all agreements must subsequently be taken account of in the MTN. While agreeing to the Grain Reserves concept Japan has been concerned that the system would subject Japan to increased LDC pressure to provide additional food aid, even drawing upon the reserves intended to meet Japan's [Page 12]needs. It is important to continue stressing the importance of rapid agreement on the system in order to take advantage of this year's good harvests to begin establishing the reserve.

C. Strategy

We believe the visit can be most beneficial by structuring it as a relatively low-key, business-like exchange. The Japanese share this view. Symbol will take precedence later this year during the Imperial visit, and neither we nor the Japanese want the Miki visit to appear to upstage, in its ceremonial aspects, the Emperor's. (The one exception to the non-ceremonial character of the Miki visit will be the signing by Secretary Kissinger and Foreign Minister Miyazawa of a US-Japan Environmental Agreement. The Japanese asked that this be done during the visit largely because Miki was the first head of Japan's Environmental Agency and remains personally interested in environmental matters.)

A frank, forthright and friendly approach will maximize the usefulness of these consultations and establish a personal relationship and trust with Miki which will be beneficial over the longer run. While there are no specific issues to be negotiated and resolved, your meetings with Miki can serve to strengthen Japanese understanding and support for our policies in a number of important areas. In particular, you should:

  • — stress the desirability of compatible and mutually supportive US and Japanese policies toward the major Communist powers and in East Asia generally, including Southeast Asia;
  • — welcome recent indications that Japan is interested in greater defense cooperation with the US, without suggesting that we favor a Japanese regional defense role;
  • — reaffirm the steadfastness of our commitment to South Korea and our desire for continuing close cooperation on all questions affecting the Korean Peninsula, while urging the Japanese to continue their efforts to improve relations with the ROK.
  • — stress the importance of effective national energy programs in consumer nations, and of consumer cooperation in the development of alternative energy sources, and seek Japanese support for a minimum safeguard price (MSP) by offering to consider ways of giving Japan access to new sources developed through adoption of an MSP.
  • — seek to persuade Miki that our efforts to resume the consumer-producer dialogue and forestall another OPEC price increase represent the most promising approach available to the consumers group.
  • — impress upon Miki the need for the major trading nations to identify priorities and to manage the MTN so that early progress can be made.
  • — underline the importance of reaching early agreement on the modalities of a Grain Reserves System in order to take advantage of the favorable harvest expected this year.

[Omitted here is Part III, the talking points, and Part IV, on participants and press, as well as the attached summit schedule, additional briefing papers, and biographic sketches.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Advisor, Presidential Briefing Material for VIP Visits, 1974-76, Box 12, 8/8/75, Japan, Prime Minister Miki [8]. Secret. A note on the first page reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. Kissinger sent Ford a briefing paper for his meeting with Miki.