[Page 622]

215. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter 1


  • Japan (U)

1. Prime Minister Ohira sent an aide to Washington last week to negotiate with Bob Strauss about the items on which you asked Ohira for agreement before your trip to Japan. In a week of hard bargaining, agreement was reached as follows:

a. Japan agreed to conclude a telephone and telecommunications government procurement agreement based on “mutual reciprocity” by December 30, 1980. Japan also agreed to make some concessions on tariff staging, to work out new import standards and testing procedures based on reciprocity, and to try to increase coal purchases. All this will be announced when Bob visits Tokyo next week, if Ohira is able between now and then to form a Japanese consensus around the concessions that his emissary made here on his behalf.2 (Otherwise, it will be announced later, but still before you arrive in Japan.) To avoid complicating Ohira’s task, we agreed to say nothing about all this in the meantime. (C)

b. Japan also agreed to negotiate a more generous arrangement on cigars and cigarettes, and this intention will be announced just before you leave for Tokyo. (C)

2. This outcome confirms my view that Ohira intends to fulfill the pledges that he made during his visit. I believe we will find that this also extends to the pledges he made on medium-term economic policy, [Page 623]although this will take a good deal longer. His visit looks more and more like a turning point in US-Japanese economic relations.3 (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 41, Japan: 5–9/79. Confidential. Sent for information. Sent to Brzezinski for forwarding to Carter under cover of a May 30 note from Owen. Brzezinski wrote “DR tomorrow” on Owen’s note. (Ibid.) An attached note, dated May 31, indicates that Owen’s memorandum to Carter was included in Carter’s Daily Report. (Ibid.)
  2. On June 2, Strauss and Ushiba initialed a joint statement on U.S.-Japanese economic relations; a copy of the initialed statement is in the National Archives, RG 364, 364–80–4, Special Trade Representative Subject Files, 1977–1979, Box 4, Japan (III). In a June 6 memorandum to Carter, Strauss asserted that “the important underlying theme for these understandings is reciprocity—the insistence on a real two-way street with Japan. The Japanese recognize that this is the key principle necessary for a positive and lasting trading relationship between our two nations. We agreed with the Japanese to work toward reciprocity in government procurement and standards, to accelerate Japanese tariff reductions, and to encourage Japanese imports of tobacco products and U.S. coal.” (Carter Library, Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary, Presidential File, Box 135, 6/12/79 [2])
  3. In his June 6 memorandum to Carter (see footnote 2 above), Strauss expressed his hope that the U.S.-Japanese agreement would “relieve much of the short-term trade tension between our two countries, thus allowing you to concentrate more fully on other and more fundamental issues during the upcoming Summit Conference.”