2. Information Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Director, East Asia and Pacific, United States Information Agency (Forster) to the Acting Director (Kopp)1


  • United States—EC—Japan Exchanges

In recent months the President and Secretary of State2 have made specific reference in policy statements to the increasing importance of maintaining effective communication between “the industrialized democracies” on issues of common concern. These issues have fallen primarily in the political-military and economic fields but also cover environmental concerns, energy problems and conceptual differences on arms control and disarmament policies.

President-elect Carter has also repeatedly expressed his interest in such effective communication and has participated actively since 1973 in the “Trilateral” efforts at exchange3 initiated by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Vance and Blumenthal have also been active participants in these meetings designed to bring ourselves, the EC countries and the Japanese [Page 9] closer together on major issues of concern. The objective of the Trilateral Commission (TLC) from the outset has basically been a communication objective and this is why some of us have felt that USIA could play a useful role in contributing to the efforts of this and similar organizations.

In underscoring the need for greater communication on the issues, President Ford and President-elect Carter have referred to the importance of continuing exchanges between North America, Western Europe (EC/OECD) and Japan in Asia in view of their similar interests and concerns, particularly in the security and economic areas. The assumption here is that any breakdown in this communication could have serious consequences in terms of our own policy interests and also from the standpoint of international stability since it would provide potential adversaries with opportunities to exploit differences in advancing their objectives.

The communication problem is now very acute in the case of Japan and the EC over the current trade imbalance problem and a reading of the press in Western Europe and Japan will indicate a certain paranoia on both sides. In a recent statement in Antwerp (November 23) Ambassador Deane Hinton referred to the possibility of a new wave of restrictionism which would not be an answer to concerns over Japanese-European trade imbalances: “What is called for is a balanced recognition by all parties that a problem may exist and a need to be sensitive to the concern of others.”

This brings me to the purpose of this message which is to inform you of current initiatives by USIS in Brussels and Tokyo designed to facilitate more effective communication between ourselves, the EC and Japan on the economic issues of common concern. Our intended audience is the media (economic editors and commentators) and also includes those economic specialists from the academic and other fields who contribute to the media.

Largely as the result of Art Hoffman’s active interest and cooperation in Brussels and good spadework by USIS Tokyo, we now have European and Japanese media leaders interested in a special exchange effort to improve public understanding of the major economic issues with which we are all confronted. Hoffman worked with us to facilitate the recent visit to Brussels of Yasuo Takeyama, influential editor of Nihon Keizai, Japan’s Wall Street Journal. Takeyama was very impressed by the briefings arranged by Hoffman which gave him an entirely new perspective on the gravity of the situation in Europe in relation to Japan’s image in Europe and he returned to Tokyo determined to do something about it.

Good follow-up work by Hoffman and Miller and his staff in Tokyo have now produced these results:

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1. The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association headed by our friend Masaaki Kasagi of CULCON is now proposing a major symposium in Tokyo next fall bringing economic editors and commentators together representing the EC, US and Japan. Kasagi, working closely with Takeyama, will use the new Press Center forum in Tokyo for this symposium.

2. Considering the immediacy of the problems, Kasagi further proposed a preliminary meeting of US, Japanese and European correspondents stationed in Japan late this month which their Foreign Press Center will organize. Hoffman has been invited to attend this meeting which will provide him with an exceptional opportunity to meet Japanese journalists concerned with EC problems.

3. Takeyama, concerned by his findings in Brussels, now plans a series of three seminars sponsored by his paper in Europe working with European editors in a special attempt to communicate more effectively on the current trade issues. The first of these will be on February 10 in Brussels.

4. The EC Information Offices in Brussels and Tokyo and the IPI in London have all expressed keen interest in the exchange proposals and believe they will do much to clear the air on some of the fundamental misunderstandings. Peter Galliner, Director of the IPI, will visit with Hoffman in Brussels this month to discuss European input on the exchanges and Art indicates that the Financial Times may play a role similar to Nihon Keizai’s on symposium sponsorship on the European end.

The above will give you some idea of how fast things are now moving as the result of these USIS initiatives. It may also provide useful background for the upcoming US-Japan Friendship Commission Meeting on January 10, since I believe it is the type of project in which our more pragmatic media, business and Congressional representatives should have a very keen interest. We are dealing here with gut issues rather than some of the frothier aspects of cultural exchange.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of the Director, Executive Secretariat, Secretariat Staff, Correspondence Files, 1973–1980, Entry P–104, Box 109, 7700010–7700019. No classification marking. Copies were sent to IOP and IEU.
  2. Reference is to Ford and Kissinger.
  3. Established in 1973, the Trilateral Commission comprises leaders from the private sector in Japan, Europe, and North America.