190. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter1


  • Tokyo Summit

1. Japanese Communications. We have had two letters from Prime Minister Ohira regarding the Summit: (U)

a. A December 22 letter inviting you to a Summit in Tokyo. It suggests the last week in June, but indicates that a final decision on timing should be deferred until preparations are further advanced, as you have proposed (Tab B).2 (C)

b. A December 26 seven-page letter about his economic plans for the new year, full of optimism about prospects for reducing Japan’s external surplus, even though he implies that he is not planning a high growth target for next year. He indicates that he will send an emissary in January to describe his plans in more detail; and he agrees to our proposal for a January meeting of U.S. and Japanese technicians to resolve [Page 567] differences between the two countries about future economic projections (Tab C).3 (C)

2. At the moment we are generating more friction than progress in our efforts to convince the Japanese—just as we were in our efforts vis-a-vis the FRG at the same stage before Bonn. The main need is persistence. The Japanese have a considerable capacity for adjusting to facts; if they become convinced that we mean business, there is a fair chance that they will take some of the additional fiscal, monetary, and trade actions we want—particularly if the January and February trade figures do not confirm their hopes for a large decline in their surplus. In line with this strategy, I enclose a proposed reply from you to Prime Minister Ohira, which has been cleared with State, Treasury, and Bernie Aronson (Tab A).4 (C)


That you sign the letter to Prime Minister Ohira at Tab A.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 24, Japan: 1–3/79. Confidential. Sent for action. Brzezinski initialed the memorandum on Owen’s behalf. Carter initialed “C” at the top of the page.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Attached but not printed is a copy of the signed January 3 letter from Carter to Ohira.