KOJI MURATA: Let me first ask you when you entered the Pentagon as the Director for Japanese Affairs and how.
JAMES AUER: It was April, 1979. At that time I was navy commander. I was assigned there by the Personnel Department of the U.S. Navy. Actually, I had come to know Mike Armacost when he was a special assistant to Ambassador Ingersoll at the American Embassy in Tokyo in 1971. At that time I was Political Adviser to the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Japan. The issue I worked on while I was there was the homeporting of the U.S.S. MIDWAY. Mr. Armacost and I became friends at that time. He said, "Some day I would like to work at the D(epartment) o(f) D(efense). And if that ever happens, why don't you come and work for me?" So I was up for change of assignment in 1979 and the Navy Personnel Department said that I was going to be assigned to Pearl Harbor, to the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet, which is a very good assignment for a Navy officer. On February 21st, a three day holiday weekend, the forecast was for 2" of snow, but actually 26" of snow fell in Washington. I called Mr. Armacost at his home and said if you don't do something today, the Navy is going to assign me to Pearl Harbor. Once that assignment is formalized, it is very hard to change it. He said, "I'll do what I can, but I can't get out of my driveway. But maybe the Navy Personnel Department people can't get to their offices either." The next day, he got to his office and requested my assignment to be the Japan Desk officer under him in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and that is how I came to the Pentagon in April 1979.
MURATA: Until when were you in that position?
AUER: Until September of 1988. However, the U.S. military then had a kind of anachronistic system where an officer could retire after 20 years. So in 1983 I retired from the Navy and became a political appointee of the Reagan Administration. Thus, almost half of my Pentagon time was as a Naval officer and half was as a civilian. Being uniformed or not in that job made very little difference and even being a political appointee was not terribly significant because the issues of the Japan Desk were not really very partisan. There was a sort of Democrat and Republican philosophical consensus that Japan should play a bigger role in its own defense. That was the view of the Carter Administration, under which I first served when I came in 1979, and of the Reagan Administration when it took over in January 1981.
MURATA: Your successor was Torkel Patterson. Who was you predecessor?
AUER: My predecessor was a Navy captain by the name of Nepier Smith.
MURATA: That position, the Director of Japanese Affairs in the Pentagon was usually occupied by the Navy?
AUER: That is hard to say. Before Nepier Smith, an Air Force Officer by the name of David Lohman had the job, and prior to him there had been both Navy and Air Forces officers and a civilian. There is some logic in having a Naval officer since Japan is a maritime country. The Secretary of Defense has his own staff independent of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. A few of the Secretary's staff are career civilians, a few are political appointees, and he also sort of "steals" some officers from the Army, Navy, and Air Force. In the case of military officers, if one is assigned, for example, to the 7th Fleet staff, the Navy Personnel Department ordinarily makes a decision and that decision is final. In the case of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Army, Navy, or Air Force is invited to nominate an officer for a certain position. The Secretary's office reviews the record of the nominee and decides whether or not the person is suitable. As I mentioned, in my case half of my time there was as a Naval officer and half of the time was as a civilian. As you said, Lieutenant Commander Torkel Patterson succeeded me, and he was succeeded by Commander Paul Giarra, also a Naval officer. Fortunately, the Japan Desk has increased to two or three persons. And right there is a civilian, Gayle Voneckartsberg, who came from Harvard with Joe Nye, originally to the Intelligence Council, but came over to the Pentagon with him to do Japan affairs. She is, in my understanding, now the senior Japan person.
MURATA: Not Sakota san?
AUER: Sakota san is there as a military officer. Virtually the entire time I was there, the job was a one-man operation. I used to complain and complain that this was "cruel punishment." The State Department's Japan Desk had multiple officers. And, well, maybe we didn't need quite as many, but, finally, four months before I left, General Powell's son, Michael Powell, who had been injured, came on as my assistant, because Assistant Secretary Armitage and General Powell were good friends. From that time on, there have been two people, and today they even have three people on the Pentagon's Japan Desk.
MURATA: I would like you to tell us about the origin of Japanese participation in RIMPAC. But before that, could you discuss some of the important issues that came up while you were serving as Japan Director.
AUER: If I can relate very quickly before I do that, through some unusual circumstances I played the role as a "go-between" on the homeporting of the U.S.S. MIDWAY in Japan in 1973. A decision had been made by the Nixon National Security Council to homeport an aircraft carrier in Japan. The rationale may have been strategic (this would be an interesting thing for Professor Wamlper's project to get into and actually see the decision documents), but a lot of the rationale may have also been budgetary. The U.S. was sending two aircraft carriers on a permanently rotating basis to the Mediterranean Sea in the 6th Fleet and two or three to the 7th Fleet. The costs of such rotation, both the budgetary cost and an even greater cost in human family separation because the Pacific Ocean is bigger and because the Pacific was the major naval theater of operations, were great. The families of the crew members, particularly in the case of enlisted sailors, in a two or three year period, were separated for maybe a year and a half. So this put great strains on the families, particularly young families, and there were also the financial costs of operations to consider. Thus, for strategic and budgetary reasons, it was decided to homeport a carrier in Japan.
As Professor Tanaka indicated, it was the State Department's perception that Japan didn't feel so terribly threatened in the 1960s, when the National Security Council made this decision. And the State Department said that Japan may not like this. But this was an NSC decision so State's job was to gain Japanese acceptance. Ambassador Ingersoll, and DCM Dick Sneider were the senior Americans in Tokyo. I was a lieutenant commander assigned to a newly created position of Political Adviser at Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan Headquarters. Just before the NSC made the decision to homeport an aircraft carrier in Japan, the U.S. government had announced, for another set of budgetary reasons, that the U.S. Navy would virtually pull out of Japan. The U.S. base at Yokosuka was going to be closed. The cruiser which was flagship of the Seventh Fleet was to move to Sasebo. The shipyard in Yokosuka was to close and the U.S. Navy was to have virtually nothing in Yokosuka and only a small presence in Sasebo. Within six months that policy was superseded since the budgetary situation was not as serious as had been thought. And in fact, the U.S. decided it would like to stay in Yokosuka and homeport an aircraft carrier there. Because this drawdown decision had been announced, the State Department believed perhaps more strongly that the Japanese would find it difficult to tolerate such a U.S. action, i.e., to base an aircraft carrier in Yokosuka.
Prior to being assigned as Political Adviser in Yokosuka, I was a PhD research student writing a history of the Maritime Self-Defense Force. I had done my Master's thesis under Professor Edwin O. Reischauer. I had been able to get declassified the fact that during the Korean War, a number of former Imperial Japanese Navy minesweepers, which had been kept on active duty to sweep mines, were sent to Korea under the order of the U.S. Occupation. A rear admiral, by the name of Arleigh Burke, who just died at the age of 95 on January 1 of this year (1996), was then the deputy Occupation naval commander under Vice Admiral Turner Joy. Admiral Burke went to Okubo Takeo, who was the first head of the Kaijo Hoancho (Maritime Safety Agency). (Later Okubo became a member of the Ohira faction of the LDP and I think was Labor Minister under Prime Minister Ohira). Burke asked Okubo how many minesweepers he had in the MSA. Okubo said one hundred and some, and Burke said he wanted 95 at Shimonoseki. Okubo said he couldn't do that without the order of Prime Minister Yoshida, and Burke said, okay, let's go see PM Yoshida. PM Yoshida said he couldn't dispatch the ships without the order of General MacArthur. And Admiral Burke said that is why he was present, that he was giving the PM the order of General MacArthur. I got these facts declassified. I think the Japanese Foreign Ministry had been sort of worried that the minesweeping operations were a skeleton in the closet, but presented in the context of a dissertation which made it clear that Japan was under occupation there was little problem.
When I presented these facts to Reischauer's seminar, he was really surprised. He said he didn't know that. And he said if he didn't know it, he didn't think any other American knew it. He didn't think many Japanese knew it either. Someday, he said a Japanese would write a definitive history of this period. But since defense was still a taboo subject in Japan (in 1970) and since the U.S. Navy had given me an extra year of graduate school because the Navy greatly reduced its number of ships suddenly, Reischaeur suggested I go to Japan and interview as many people as possible before they died. I said that I couldn't speak Japanese. And Reischauer said in a year there is nothing I could do, so don't try to learn Japanese. He suggested just to go and interview those who I could interview in English and then get a competent interpreter (and he gave some suggestions of friends of his) for the others. So my dissertation consisted of 200 interviews. Defense Minister Nakasone was one of the interviewees. But one of the people I came to know (through the coincidence that his government secretary was a Navy buff) was Funada Naka, who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and of course Funada had been Defense Minister himself and was very committed to the U.S.-Japan relationship.
When I got into my new job as Political Adviser to the Navy in Yokosuka, I went to pay my greetings to Mr. Funada, who by this time knew me very well. He questioned me quite extensively. He said this was a wonderful job for me and I should be very happy. I said yes but I thought there were some very difficult issues. And he asked which I thought were difficult. He said defense is very important for Japan and thus I shouldn't have any difficulties with Japan. I said there was a U.S. idea to base a carrier at Yokosuka. But the State Department's opinion is that the government of Japan won't think positively about doing so. Why? he asked. I said I think State feels that the U.S. announced it was going to leave Japan and the Soviet threat in Asia is not well appreciated in Japan. He responded that the Soviet threat was becoming important for Japan too. And the Soviets were expanding into the Pacific. So about once a month, I would bring my boss, Rear Admiral Julian T. Burke, to Tokyo in civilian clothes and we would go to Speaker's (of the Diet) Official Residence and Mr. Funada would ask Admiral Burke questions about the U.S.-Japan relationship, how carriers operate, etc. Frankly, we didn't know why Mr. Funada was doing this. I would say over a four month period of time I took him there somewhere between five or six times. Finally one night at a cocktail party at the Official Residence, Mr. Funada came up to Ambassador Ingersoll and Dick Sneider and said he understood that the U.S. might be interested in basing an aircraft carrier at Yokosuka. Of course, he said the U.S. has the right to do that under the Security Treaty, but the U.S. might want to ask Japan's opinion. He added that then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was a very capable man in many ways, but he had never really studied strategic military matters. Over the past few months, therefore, Mr. Funada said he had been educating the PM about these issues and he now understood that basing a U.S. carrier in Japan would enhance the U.S.-Japan security treaty to the benefit of Japan. Mr. Funada said he hoped it would be of benefit to the United States as well. He said if the U.S. wanted Japan's opinion as to whether the U.S. should base a carrier in Japan or not, or want Japan's agreement, the PM authorized him to say Japan would support the U.S. plan. And at that time the American Embassy reported to Washington that the Japanese government would go along. I personally believe that without the U.S.S. MIDWAY, which was based in Japan from 1973 until it was replaced in the early 1990s by the U.S.S. INDEPENDENCE, the credibility of the U.S. commitment to all of the Far East and to the defense of Japan would not have nearly been as strong as it was. I am proud that I was able to play a small role as go-between for the basing of the U.S.S. MIDWAY in Japan.
MURATA: Tanaka became Prime Minister in 1972, so...
AUER: Yes, it was during that time. I finished my dissertation in July of 1971. I became Political Adviser in Yokosuka in October of 1971. The U.S.S. MIDWAY arrived at Yokosuka in 1973, so it was sometime in 1972 that that meeting between Ambassador Ingersoll and Mr. Funada took place.
MURATA: What you did was to introduce your boss to Mr. Funada?
MURATA: And you accompanied him?
AUER: Yes, I used to take him to Tokyo about once a month. The Navy never had a Political Adviser before at Yokosuka. Bill Sherman was the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy. I called him up and said I was a Navy lieutenant commander and I had just been assigned to be the Navy's Political Adviser. I said I didn't know what a political adviser was supposed to do. He said that as Political Counselor he convened a Political Section meeting every week. He invited me to come once or twice, and, if I found the meetings valuable or worthwhile, he said I was welcome to come any time. So for two years I went to the Political Section meeting at the Embassy every week. That is how I met Mike Armacost because he also attended the Political Section meetings.
MURATA: In addition to Funada, did you meet with any other politicians? Did you meet with Tanaka himself?
AUER: No. I met with Mr. Ohira when he was Foreign Minister through the introduction of Mr. Okubo, whom I had interviewed as part of my dissertation research. I interviewed a number of Japanese politicians. But I never negotiated with Mr. Funada. And I don't think it would be correct to say that Admiral Burke negotiated with Mr. Funada. Adm. Burke would essentially come up to Tokyo and let Mr. Funada ask him questions. At the same time, negotiations were going on between the U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially the Ampoka (Security Division) about the homeporting issue, but it had not been raised to the highest level of the Japanese government (at some point the Foreign Ministry must have done that). Again it was the State Department's opinion, at least initially, and perhaps until Mr. Funada passed on Prime Minister Tanaka's positive stance on the issue, that in fact the Japanese Government would find homeporting difficult. When Mr. Funada told the Ambassador that the Prime Minister authorized him to say Japan would support homeporting, I think it accelerated the progress.
MURATA: We were told by someone in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that after the Nixon Shock, there was a mood in the Ministry to try to change the Security Treaty to a more moderate one or at least modify the Security Treaty so that the U.S. presence would become less visible. Did you sense that mood?
AUER: As I mentioned, just a few months before the decision to homeport an aircraft carrier in Japan, a decision had been made and announced to in fact virtually withdraw the U.S. Navy from Japan. So maybe, the fact that the U.S. had announced a significant drawdown, fostered a feeling in the Ministry that the treaty should be "moderated."
I should say I did some things that I was not ordered to do by Admiral Burke because we weren't directed to negotiate with the Japanese Government. Admiral Burke was a senior official and he could have been fired if he overstepped. I could have been fired too, of course, but I was still single and I knew homeporting was a U.S. National Security Council position. I did have private talks not initiated by me, with people in the Ampoka whom I had interviewed when I was researching my dissertation. They occasionally invited me for lunch. I found that their feelings about the American idea for homeporting was in fact more positive than the American Embassy's. They might have been the faction in the Foreign Ministry that felt the Security Treaty should be enhanced. (There may well have been another faction that did not feel that way.) I informed the Embassy about my meetings. Tom Shoesmith had become DCM and he invited me to lunch and asked whom I was meeting with (maybe someone was tailing me--I say this as a joke). I said I had met with people in the Ampoka who seem to think homeporting is a good idea. I didn't say that Admiral Burke was coming up and meeting with Mr. Funada. Also, the Admiral never told me to go meet Mr. Funada. I brought Admiral Burke when Mr. Funada invited him to come. Mr. Funada invited Admiral Burke to the opening ceremony of the Diet, which was very impressive and interesting to Americans, to see the Showa Emperor in the morning at a very formal ceremony and then to see Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in the afternoon pounding his fist while delivering his policy speech. Mr. Funada invited a number of visiting U.S. admirals to that ceremony. And then Mr. Funada started inviting Admiral Burke more frequently and kept asking questions about homeporting the U.S.S. MIDWAY in Yokosuka.
MURATA: This is interesting because this was after the Nixon Shock and the opening with China which means the military threat...
AUER: But the military problem was not directed at China. The U.S. was concerned from 1945 or at least from 1950 with the Soviet Union. In 1949, with the Chinese Communists winning the revolution, there was a fear of world wide Communism, but in fact, even at the worst of times, the U.S. Navy was supreme in the Pacific. So the worry was the Soviet Union and that was primarily a European worry; and the fact that the Japanese side was not terribly worried was not surprising to the U.S. But the Soviet Union had a corrupt political system (as we know now) and a corrupt economic system and therefore they could only be a superpower by building raw military power. And they finally accumulated so much military hardware, that in addition to positioning so much of it in Europe, they started to buildup the Far East as well. The Nixon Doctrine began with pulling out of Vietnam (and the Japanese thought we should never be in Vietnam in the first place--and they were right--and they didn't think China was a great threat). In the 1960s, the only Asian threat apparent was China, which was not very real to the Americans or to the Japanese; but in 1970, with the announcement of the Nixon Doctrine and the pull-out from Vietnam, and with the Soviet Union now expanding, for the first time, the Japanese Government began to wonder how low the U.S. was going to go. Japan didn't want the U.S. to pull everything out of the Far East. That is when, I think, Defense Minister Michita Sakata and others started asking for enhanced cooperation. So I think the Japanese became more sensitive to the fact that there was a threat, not from China but from the Soviet Union and if the U.S. pulled out of the Far East completely, the Japanese would have to face that threat alone. And I think that was a very realistic perception on the Japanese part.
MURATA: When was this perception seen?
AUER: I think it began in the early 70s and became increasingly strong throughout the 70s, virtually to the end of the Cold War.
MURATA: Really? In the latter part of the 70s it is easy to understand that threat coming from the Soviet Union, but in the early 70s?
AUER: Well, I think they had over one hundred submarines by the early 70s. I don't think they were as capable as U.S. submarines but there was a real worry about the numbers. Frankly, I used to be frightened at DoD when I would hear the very highly classified briefings about Soviet threat. We know now that the Soviets' technology was not that good, but their raw numbers in aircrafts, ships, and tanks was impressive.
MURATA: Parity was...
AUER: That's right.
MURATA: That Miki Administration--Sakata as Defense Minister.
INTERVIEWER NO. 2: But even before the Miki Administration, during the Tanaka Administration, I think at least among the uniformed and civilian Defense Agency officials, there was some sense of the increasing Soviet threat.
AUER: That is so.
INTERVIEWER NO. 2: I haven't really found any evidence that suggests so, but if you know of any sources. Some journalistic accounts (quoted in Otake's book). He wrote that the increase of Soviet military equipment was threatening.
AUER: I suspect, I know, that Hisahiko Okazaki and others, people in the Japanese Foreign Ministry who knew the Soviet Union, began to reflect seriously on the Soviet threat as early as the beginning of the 1970s.
MURATA: The Soviet Union began to project their power in 1979 when they intervened in Angola, no in 1975. In 1973, when Breshnev asked Nixon to intervene in the Middle East war, Kissinger and Nixon suddenly realized the Soviet confidence in their military power. But you are saying before, in the early 1970s...?
AUER: I think that the announcement of the Nixon Doctrine, the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, was the first impetus to strategic thinkers in Japan that if the Soviet Union expands in Asia as well, and if the U.S. is gone, where does that leave Japan. I think more and more evidence developed that the Soviet Union was doing that.
If I now address your original question about when I became Director of Japan Affairs at the Pentagon in 1979, under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, there was a Security Consultative Committee (SCC) established, but it was very high level and very unequal body.
MURATA: When was this?
AUER: In 1960, under the present Treaty the SCC consisted of Japan's Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, but the American side was led by U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the Commander in Chief Pacific (CINCPAC). So it was very unbalanced. But it was so high level on the Japanese side and I guess, relatively high level on the sort of in-country Japan- U.S. side, that the SCC never functioned other than to rubber-stamp agreements and to announce them. So informally and gradually (I have never researched this history), a Security Sub-Committee (SSC) of this high level SCC was formed. And the SSC was a more working-level, policy oriented meeting with essentially kyoku-cho level officials from the Foreign Ministry and Defense Agency--I would say the Foreign Ministry side predominated for the Japanese side whereas on the U.S. side, International Security Affairs (ISA) within DoD of which I was a part, was predominant although the Department of State was represented as well.
The SSC met yearly until the Nixon Administration, when Warren Nutter became Assistant Secretary and he lost interest. So there were no SSCs for 4 or 5 years. Then during the Carter Administration, Dick Sneider from State and Mort Abramowitz from ISA and a few others worked on getting the SSC re-established. Thus in 1978, there was the first SSC after a 4 or 5 year hiatus. I was not present at that one. That was one year before I came. Previous SSCs had been held in Washington, D.C. or Tokyo before that. In 1978, because it was the first meeting in a long time, and there were busy schedules on both sides, it was decided to have it in Hawaii. The 1978 meeting was well received so that they started meeting there subsequent years as well, and CINCPAC was asked to provide hosting arrangements. Admiral Maurice Weisner was CINCPAC in 1978, and he became so interested in it that CINCPAC became a big player in the SSC process. I started getting involved in the SSCs from 1979.
My boss, Mike Armacost, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, and I guess the Carter Administration as a whole's goal was that Japan should do more defense wise. But the definition of "more" was very vague, so I wrote a paper for one of the U.S. work-up meetings for the SSC that the U.S. should encourage Japan to take on the mission of defending the sea lanes of the Northwest Pacific. This (paper) made it to the final Washington, D.C. meeting before the meeting in Hawaii and somebody from the State Department said, well that is a regional military role and the Japanese won't or can't (I forget the word) agree to that. The U.S. Assistant Secretary from Defense who was chair of the U.S. delegation, Mr. Armacost's boss, a lawyer by the name of David McGiffert said he felt the same way and the suggestion for sea lane defense was struck. Mr. Armacost said to me that he was sorry but that we would still encourage Japan to do more in ASW and air defense, and mine sweeping. But the U.S. never raised the specific issue of sea lane defense in 1978. Then, in 1980 (I don't know if that was the first year or not), the Finance Ministry established a ceiling limiting the amount of increase in defense budget that the Defense Agency could request over the year before. Because the invasion of Afghanistan had taken place in December 1979, Harold Brown and Cyrus Vance both began to say the U.S. was going to do more in defense and that U.S. Allies, NATO and Japan, should also do more. The Finance Ministry put out a budget ceiling for defense of 9.7% for 1981, and I was arguing very strongly against making that a test of whether Japan was doing more or not, because all kinds of things can be done with numbers and budgets. For example, if a country increases the budget and buys new uniforms, and fancy houses, and rich food--it doesn't help national defense ability at all. But anyway the press maneuvered some U.S. spokesmen into saying that if the 9.7% ceiling were met or exceeded then Japan would be doing more, but if the budget came in less than 9.7%, then Japan would be doing less than it should. A number of the defense policy tribe (zoku) members came to the U.S. during the summer of 1980. I took several of the senior ones to Secretary Brown; some of the Japanese would whisper that they had the Prime Minister's ear and that the 9.7% ceiling would be met or topped. In mid-December, Ambassador Okawara came in to see Secretary Brown and said the new budget would be announced in two weeks time. He said he was sorry to tell the Secretary that the budget would not be close to 9.7%--it would be considerably (2%) below, but that the Japanese Government still thought it represented progress. The Secretary said he was sorry to hear the lower figure and if in fact that was correct, he hoped the Japanese government would reconsider. If the Ambassador was correct, Mr. Brown said, he would have to say something pretty strong and negative. The budget was less and Secretary Brown made a very public statement saying Japan was not doing enough. It was either before that or shortly after that Cyrus Vance also publicly criticized Japan for buying Iranian oil on the spot market after the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran even though supposedly MITI had sounded the Commerce Department on that subject and Commerce did not object (I don't know whether story about MITI and Commerce is true or not).
But, anyway, the Carter Administration was a lame duck at this time because Roanld Reagan had been elected in November. Before January 20, 1981, sometime in January anyway, I was sitting in my office reading when I came across a statement by Alexander Haig, Secretary of State-designate, that the Reagan Administration was going to adopt a new policy with its allies. It was not going to talk about percentage of GNP spent on defense or percent of budget increase or criticize allies in public. But the new Administration was going to talk to allies very frankly in private, not about percentages of budget increase, but about roles and missions. So I went to the new Deputy Assistant Secretary, Richard Armitage, and I asked if this was U.S. policy. And he said what do you think. I said that it made very good sense and that I thought the Japanese would welcome that kind of approach. So we wrote a memo to Caspar Weinberger, the new Secretary of Defense, saying the U.S. should approach the Japanese in accordance with Haig's policy of having a discussion of roles and missions between allies. The memo suggested that the United States should provide the nuclear umbrella and offensive projection power (the U.S. could not expect Japan to bomb Vladivostok if that became necessary, but the U.S. has an aircraft carrier homeported in Japan and could bring in other offensive forces into the area as required) but Japan could be asked to defend its own territory and the sea lanes of the Northwest Pacific). Secretary Weinberger approved, but the State Department disapproved, maintaining that the memo described a regional role which Japan couldn't do.
Early on, President Reagan reappointed Mike Mansfield as Ambassador to Japan and Mansfield wrote a congratulatory letter to the President thanking him for the reappointment. In the letter the Ambassador said that he thought that early on in the administration, the Japanese government would like to hear where Mr. Reagan would like U.S. defense policy and U.S. trade policy with Japan to go. Ambassador Mansfield wrote that Japan might not like what it would hear but Japanese leaders would like to know where the Administration was coming from. The President liked the letter and directed a prompt reply. Thus the policy that Secretary Weinberger had approved and the State Department had disapproved, suddenly became U.S. policy, approved by the Reagan National Security Council. In March 1981, Foreign Minister Ito Masuyoshi came to Washington, D.C. (I don't remember if he met with the President, but he met with the Secretary of State and then came to the Pentagon and met with the Secretary of Defense) on behalf of the U.S. government. Secretary Weinberger set out that the U.S. would like to propose a division of roles and missions between the U.S. and Japan and that if Japan was interested, the U.S. would like to hear from Japan what it could do. The Secretary told Minister Ito what the U.S. could do for Japan if Japan agreed to such a role sharing arrangement. Even though the Security Treaty specifies an attack on Japan as the trigger, Mr. Weinberger said the U.S. considers an attack on Japan's sea lanes in the Persian Gulf to be as much an attack on Japan as an attack on Kyushu because the trains can't run in Honshu or Kyushu if Japan can't get its oil through. He added that the U.S. realized Japan couldn't protect its distant sea lanes. He said the U.S. would provide Japan a nuclear umbrella, would keep the aircraft carrier U.S.S. MIDWAY at Yokosuka and would bring in other aircraft carriers if necessary, for example, to strike Vladivostok and would protect Japan's sea lanes in the Southwest Pacific and the Indian Ocean, significantly beyond the literal commitment of the Security Treaty. If Japan needed the U.S. side's opinion of what Japan should do, the Secretary said he believed Japan should defend its own territory, the sky and sea surrounding Japan and the sea lanes of the Northwest Pacific.
MURATA: The Fukuda Cabinet approved the Guidelines of U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation at the very end of 1978 and the Reagan Administration came to power in 1981. In this period, do you think that the Guidelines did not work well?
AUER: The Guidelines worked fine but were quite limited in scope, especially for the two countries' naval forces. Especially to the U.S. Navy, but also perhaps to the Japanese MSDF, the Guidelines were twenty years late. The navies had been doing joint exercises and intelligence sharing since the 1950s, although of course the Japanese ability was very low at first, but things were improving. By 1970, the MSDF was exercising against U.S. nuclear submarines (that was leaked during the Nakasone Administration and once I was suspected as the leaker although I was told the real leaker was Mr. Nakasone himself-who wanted to get the information out in public.) The thing the U.S. was looking for was for Japan to acquire useful capability in air defense and anti-submarine warfare. But if really the Japanese side would never use such capability unless the territory of Japan was invaded (the U.S. never considered the Soviet Union would invade Japan--the U.S.S.R. didn't have amphibious lift and would be busy elsewhere) the meaning of Japan's capability was negligible. The U.S. believed it was in the American national interest and the U.S. believed it was in Japan's national interest to deter the Soviet Union. Secretary Weinberger thus made his proposal to Minister Ito and Ito said he would take it back to Tokyo. Then someone from the Japanese Embassy whispered to the Minister who then said that he would first have to give his personal opinion which was that the sea lanes of the Northwest Pacific was something Japan could no do because that was a regional defense role. But he said that Japan would get back to the U.S. side later.
Very few direct questions came to me directly from Secretary Weinberger because I was far down the pecking order, but the next day from the Secretary's office came the question, what do the Japanese mean by "later"? The true answer was sometime between now and one hundred years. Anyway, my answer was that we should keep asking Japan to answer the question. Two months later, in May, to the joy of DoD (and I think State was happy too), the Japanese said that Secretary Weinberger's proposal for sharing roles and missions was acceptable. And the President and Prime Minister Suzuki announced that together. They announced it at the White House, but as you know, the next day, Prime Minister Suzuki had a press conference at the National Press Club, and if I remember correctly, an Asian, but not Japanese, reporter asked Mr. Suzuki, given the Japanese Constitution, etc., what does this communique he signed with President Reagan mean? He asked what was Japan's part of roles and missions? The U.S. backgrounded the American press and maybe the Japanese press too on what the United States proposed to do, as the Missions Secretary Weinberger outlined to Minister Ito. And Prime Minister Suzuki said "we can in accordance with our national policy defend our own territory, defend the seas and skies around Japan, and defend our sea lanes up to 1000 miles. This is Japan's national policy." Well I immediately called the Japanese Embassy. I said the Taiko (National Defense Program Outline) was not nearly this specific. Was this a new statement of Japanese policy signaling a change? The Embassy fairly quickly called back and said that the Prime Minister had given a clarification of Japan's policy. Assistant Secretary Armitage went to Secretary Weinberger and said it's about 1000 miles from Yokosuka to Guam and 1100 miles from Osaka to the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines. So, Japan's statement was the same thing as the sea lanes of the Northwest Pacific. But Mr. Armitage said if that is what the Japanese government could say in public, and if Japan was willing to acquire the capability to defend those sea lanes, we should endorse it. Secretary Weinberger agreed, and in a major speech in Japan he said that the U.S. supports the Japanese statement of their own defense missions. He encouraged Japan to obtain the capability to carry out these missions as quickly as possible. Years later I was told by someone in the Foreign Ministry that former Prime Minister Suzuki, responding to a Yomiuri interview, called to ask where he had spoken about 1000 mile sea lanes. The MOFA official reminded him of his press conference statement.
Whether Suzuki understood what he said or not, Yasuhiro Nakasone clearly understood and, in the two week period when Suzuki announced he was not going to run for another term and Nakasone formally became Prime Minister, in a number of statements, Mr. Nakasone said the primary focus of his premiership in the area of foreign policy was going to be to improve the U.S.-Japan security relationship and specifically to carry out the Japanese part of the Reagan-Suzuki communique. And to this day, I believe the Reagan-Suzuki communique (particularly when it became clear that the U.S. was carrying out the military build-up that President Reagan promised in 1980 and when P.M. Naksone started putting real money behind his statements--most budget categories except defense were frozen in the Japanese government in '83, '84, 85'), was taken more seriously in Moscow than even in Tokyo and in Washington. The commitment of the world's number one and number two economies to cooperate together militarily against number three (the USSR) was extraordinarily meaningful to people like Gorbachev and Shevardnaze who realized that the Soviet Union could not compete. By the late 1980s, Japan had built up a first-class, air defense, anti-submarine capability. Some American critics maintain that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is unequal. Under the U.S.-Philippine, U.S.-Korea, and ANZUS treaties, U.S. treaty partners have a reciprocal commitment to the United States. But Japan doesn't commit anything to the U.S. Of course this all goes back to Article 9, which the U.S. has the responsibility for writing. But I used to argue within the U.S. government, tell me how the Korean Navy or the Philippine Navy is going to come and defend San Diego. They can't defend Pusan and Subic Bay, respectively. If the Japanese Navy can put out a first-class air defense and anti-submarine capability in the Sea of Japan, we don't need them in San Diego. The entire Soviet Pacific presence is either based in Vladivostok or supported in Kamchatka or in Vietnam from Vladivostok. And every Soviet air commander or naval commander coming out of Vladivostok had to realize he was going to be detected by the U.S. Seventh Fleet or the Maritime or Air Self-Defense Force. If the Soviets location was known in peace time, with the kind of weapons the U.S. and Japan had, the U.S. and Japan team and the Soviets knew the U.S. and Japan could kill the Soviets in war time. This was the essence of deterrence, and despite the huge billions and billions of rubles that the Soviets expended, they never gained any political advantage in Asia before their system collapsed. So by far, I would say the two things I witnessed of importance during my time at the Pentagon were the homeporting of the U.S.S. MIDWAY in Japan back in 1973 (and the discussions back in 1972) and the U.S.-Japan agreement on roles and missions in 1981, which became implemented throughout the 1980s.
MURATA: How about the three straits issue?
AUER: Blockade of the Tsushima, Soya and Tsugaru Straits is a tactic. That issue frequently was raised in the press following the Prime Minister's 1981 press conference in Washington which was endorsed by Secretary Weinberger. Journalists asked what Japan needed to do to carry out its roles. They wanted an equipment list. Komori Yoshihisa was a Mainichi correspondent at the time. He wanted to know if the U.S. had a secret list. Well we did some studies, but what we said was there were many ways to carry out sea lane defense. Blockading the straits can be done by aircraft, submarines or by surface ships. We said the Defense Agency's Internal Bureau and the Self-Defense Forces have plenty of expertise to decide how to proceed. If the Finance Ministry, if the Japanese Government would give the Defense Agency the money, they would know very well what to do. So the U.S. never said Japan must do it one way or another.
But there was another, I don't want to say problem, but the Ground Self-Defense Forces, had some political clout in Japan. As I understand it, they literally drive people to vote in rural constituencies and those people vote LDP. As far as most in the U.S. were concerned, the money Japan spent on its Ground Self-Defense Forces was a waste, simply because the Soviets couldn't get to Japan, i.e., did not constitute an invasion threat. So, on the one hand, we were tempted to say, since Japan's defense budget is limited because of political constraints (in 1987 the one percent ceiling was theoretically done away with but we knew Japan wasn't going to spend any where near two percent of GNP) why doesn't Japan prioritize spending on the MSDF and ASDF. (Although I was a naval officer, if I were Japanese I would have spent even more money on the ASDF than on the MSDF because of what the Soviet threat was--the overwhelming number of aircraft would have been the most immediate threat--although the Soviet Navy was awesome too.) If in fact the only way it seemed Japan could do things domestically was to build all three SDFs, then that was okay with the U.S.
Similarly (and this became an issue with the FSX) when Japan built the F4, the P-3 aircraft, and the F15, Japan wanted to license and build them in Japan. That sometimes made costs about double what they were to build the same aircraft in the U.S. Even though the licensing was a good deal for American companies, it would have been a better deal for the companies and particularly for U.S. workers if Japan bought the aircraft from the U.S. But from 1950 to 1970 the U.S. had pushed Japan, not only to build up its defense capability but to build up its defense industry as well, because, in the event of a major U.S.-Soviet war, the U.S. wanted a second source of supply in Japan. (After demobilizing the Japanese defense industry in 1945, the U.S. put it back into business during the Korean War, first to build parts for U.S. forces, and by the end of the Korean War, actually there was aircraft production in Japan ordered by the Occupation).
MURATA: I would like to ask about the introduction of U.S. nuclear weapons into Japan. You mentioned the name of Mr. Komori. He interviewed former Ambassador Reischauer in 1980.
AUER: He was kind (or unkind) enough to call me an hour before he broke his story.
MURATA: Reischauer said there was a difference of the concept of the introduction of nuclear weapons between the U.S. and Japanese side. The American side took the position that "transit" of weapons does not mean "introduction." But after Komori's scoop, the Japanese government denied "transit" was permitted. With your counterparts at the Japanese Defense Agency, did you have any consultations about the concept of the definition of nuclear weapons?
AUER: No. A U.S. ship "with nuclear capability" is defined as a ship which has a weapons system capable of using a nuclear weapon. For example, when I was commanding officer and executive officer of a destroyer-type ships in Yokosuka, we had an ASROC, an anti-submarine rocket launcher; the MSDF has ASROC launchers as well. ASROC is able to fire a conventional torpedo but also to fire a nuclear depth bomb. Nuclear submarine technology progressed so fast in the 1960s that conventional torpedoes could not catch a nuclear submarine. So in the 1960s or so, the U.S. designed a nuclear depth bomb that could produce a shock wave that would kill the submarine at some distance. As we eventually increased the speed of conventional torpedoes, it was no longer necessary to do that. Of course, the MSDF ASROCs had only conventional torpedoes with no nuclear weapons. The U.S. had other weapons systems as well. We had the TARTER missile system that had only conventional capability. There were larger kinds of systems that had conventional and nuclear capability. But the U.S. position in Japan on nuclear capability was the same as the U.S. position in every country, including the United States, the so-called "neither confirm nor deny" policy. It was useful to us for the Soviets to think that every U.S. nuclear capable ship had nuclear weapons on it. If the Soviets believed it, we didn't actually have to have nuclear weapons on every ship. So it was very useful to us, and for Japan as well, for the Soviets to think that all nuclear capable U.S. ships were nuclear-loaded. It brought credibility. (The U.S. never brought a ballistic-missile submarine into Japan. When the ballistic missile submarine U.S.S. GEORGE WASHINGTON sunk the Japanese merchant vessel NISHO MARU in 1981, the U.S. admitted that the GEORGE WASHINGTON was carrying nuclear ballistic missiles, but those submarines only operated out of Guam.) So occasionally Japanese journalists would find some drunk American sailor or marine and allege that he said he guarded nuclear weapons on his ship. It was unclassified that the U.S.S. MIDWAY, for example has a nuclear capability--and frankly speaking, the marine guarding the door didn't know if there were actually nuclear weapons on board or not. But it was top secret whether a specific ship was carrying nuclear weapons or not. Procedures were exactly the same for when nuclear capable ships carried nuclear weapons and when they didn't so the guards didn't know whether they were guarding actual nuclear weapons or not. And crews were constantly trained on nuclear weapons handling.
Dr. Reischauer had actually written the same thing he told Mr. Komori in a book before his interview with Mr. Komori, and nobody noticed it. Mr. Reischauer wrote that when the U.S. negotiated the Security Treaty with Japan, the U.S. said that ships and aircraft visiting at Japanese ports would not be a case of "introduction" and, he said, Japan did not object. But shortly after the Security Treaty went into effect, the opposition started raising the issue in the Diet. I believe it was when Mr. Ohira was Foreign Minister that the Japanese Government began stating that those American ships were not carrying nuclear weapons. At some point Ambassador Reischauer went to see F.M. Ohira and told him that these statements were not helpful, and, as he should know, were "incorrect." And Mr. Ohira and the Japanese Government stopped making them. I can not tell you who was right but when Mr. Komori's article was published, the U.S.S. MIDWAY was on its way back to Yokosuka after I think its first ever visit to the Persian Gulf, I think it was after the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran. Mayor Kazuo Yokoyama was up for reelection in Yokosuka. He had no significant opposition, but Mr. Yokoyama asked Foreign Ministry officials if they could keep the U.S.S. MIDWAY out of Yokosuka until after the election. And the Foreign Ministry informally asked the American Embassy if the MIDWAY could delay its arrival. But Ambassador Mike Mansfield said at that point, if Japan wanted to have a Security Treaty with the United States, Japan could not ask those kinds of things. The request was never rendered officially. The U.S.S. MIDWAY came home on schedule and Diet members such as Messrs. Nakasone, Shiina and others went down to Yokosuka and gave beer to the MIDWAY crew as a thanks gesture. Mayor Yokoyama won reelection handily. The newspapers rushed out and had public opinion polls at the time and if I remember, Yomiuri had the most comprehensive poll. Something like 80 percent of the public said they believed Mr. Reischauer rather than the Japanese government. And I think 60 some percent of LDP Diet members said they believed Mr. Reischauer rather than the Japanese government.
The only thing I can say is that if the Japanese government's explanation that U.S. ships were never carrying nuclear weapons was correct, the credibility of the U.S. nuclear umbrella to Japan wasn't very strong. If Mr. Reischauer's explanation was correct, credibility vis-a-vis the Soviets was much stronger. I used to ask friends in the Foreign Ministry, on the one hand, it was all right that they said the U.S. has never asked Japan under prior consultation arrangements, so we trust that the U.S. has never brought nuclear weapons in--if Mr. Reischauer was correct, of course the U.S. didn't need to ask. But the Japanese Government even went further than that and said that, if the U.S. ever asks, Japan will always say "no." I asked them why they said that. I couldn't understand why they didn't say, if the U.S. asks, Japan will say "yes" or "no" depending on the national interest of Japan. They said it was difficult to retreat from previous statements which the opposition parties demanded be repeated. Hisahiko Okazaki says that Japan defended the main thrust of the U.S.-Japan Treaty but gave a mile on the details and would get itself backed into corners. I am not allowed to tell you whether Mr. Reischauer was right or not, but, as I said, if he was right the Treaty had more credibility. The issue is now academic because in 1992, the U.S. removed tactical nuclear weapons from all of its ships. But retired Rear Admiral Eugene Laroque's statements in the 1970s which got big press play in Japan were incorrect. He once was commanding officer of the U.S.S. OKLAHOMA CITY, the flagship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. He said that a missile with a red tip instead of a white one was accidentally brought on deck during an exercise. He said the red tipped one was nuclear. Nuclear weapons did not have red tips. They looked exactly the same as conventional missiles and conventional torpedoes. Why he said that, I don't know, maybe for his own purpose, after he retired and started the very anti-defense Center for Defense Information. But again, the Russians believed that most if not all U.S. nuclear capable ships were carrying nuclear weapons and that acted to America's and to Japan's advantage.
The U.S. Information Agency (USIA) of the State Department had asked me for many years to let USIA send me around Japan to speak about the U.S.-Japan security relationship. In 1987, when I finally got some assistance on the Japan Desk, I finally agreed to go. USIA had a rule that if a speaker went to one foreign country under USIA sponsorship he had to go to at least one more foreign country. USIA picked the other country--New Zealand. One of the stops in Japan was Okinawa. It was the first time ever that an American sponsored by USIA had gone to Okinawa to speak about security issues. Then Professor Ota, who is now Governor, came to my lecture. It was very interesting. I said both Americans and Japanese should appreciate the role Okinawa is playing. I said the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty was extremely important and that Okinawa happens to be located in one of the most strategically important places in Asia if not the world, vis-a-vis mainland Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. So it is a very important base. Professor Ota said that he didn't completely agree with my analysis, but to the extent he did, all of Japan should bear that burden, not just Okinawa. And that night, the U.S. Consul General, Spence Richardson, a friend of mine, had a reception in his quarters and again Professor Ota came. Also present were a Major General from the Air Self-Defence Force, (I believe he was the senior uniformed person in Okinawa), a MSDF captain, (a P3 pilot who was a good friend of mine) and a civilian from the Defense Facilities Administration Agency. At one point Professor Ota began shouting at the two Japanese officers and the civilian official right there in the Consul General's living room. Professor Ota seemed to be saying that Tokyo cared little about Okinawa.
Then I went to New Zealand--this was during the David Lange Administration which prohibited U.S. ships with nuclear capability from visiting New Zealand unless the U.S. would certify that the ships didn't have nuclear weapons. The public affairs officer of the U.S. Embassy who was in charge of my program said I shouldn't raise the issue of nuclear weapons. I said I wasn't going to raise it, but if I were asked a question I was going to respond. He wanted me to say, "no comment." I said if I did so I would seem to be hiding something. I said I would rather return to the U.S. than to hide. He was upset, but I refused to say "no comment." Again I promised not to raise the issue. Of course visits of nuclear capable ships was the first question after every speech I made. The most interesting meeting was a lunch with three professors who were supporters of Mr. Lange. They said that everybody knew the U.S. was bringing nuclear weapons into Japan--the Japanese people knew, the government knew it--Japan was acting like the three monkeys--see, hear, and speak no evil. They claimed that only New Zealanders were really faithful in their opposition. I said I was very interested in their remarks. I said it was now 1987 and Mr. Lange was New Zealand's prime minister with this "moral and pure" policy. I said, let's say in January of 1981, instead of Ronald Reagan, David Lange had been elected President of the United States. I asked if they thought that today, in 1987, the United States would still have nuclear weapons. I said to one of them, "What about you sir?" He said, "Yes, I suppose we would." I asked the other two and got the same answer. I said Japan is located right next to the Soviet Union through no fault of its own; and, that, through no merit of its own, New Zealand is located in one of the most strategically unimportant locations in the world. I said if U.S. ships cannot visit New Zealand, it makes sailors sad because New Zealand women are treated badly by New Zealand men so that they love U.S. sailors. But if Japan did not allow the U.S. to visit unless the U.S. certified that there are no nuclear weapons on board, the results would be very bad for Japan, very bad for the U.S., and very bad for New Zealand. They quickly dropped the subject and we talked about other things for the rest of the lunch.
MURATA: Thank you very much.
MURATA: [...A]sked about prior consultations within the Security Treaty. Let me ask one follow up question if I may. How exactly does prior consultation work?
AUER: That is a very good question. My knowledge of this may be imperfect. However my impression is the following. The actual formal exercise of prior consultation has never once been utilized. Therefore, I am not sure that any formal procedure for such exercise exists. It is pretty clear what the actual treaty calls for, but since there has never been any such formal exercise, I don't know if anyone has actually worked out a step by step procedure. As far as I know, there has never been a case which has been declared to be the exercise of prior consultation. On the other hand, I think, informally, prior consultation has been exercised rather regularly and probably far beyond any formal requirement. In other words, for example, I discussed earlier in this interview about the U.S. desire to base the aircraft carrier U.S.S. MIDWAY at Yokosuka. I would say that particularly the State Department (I don't know if DoD was in agreement as well or not) felt the need to consult with Japanese officials. I don't know if it was formally stated, even internally within the United States, that, unless the Japanese agreed, this plan could not have gone forward. But in fact I described the role of Lower House Speaker Naka Funada, who spoke with Ambassador Ingersoll after getting the approval of Prime Minister Tanaka that basing the U.S.S. MIDWAY at Yokosuka was good for Japan and the security relationship. Mr. Funada said to Ambassador Ingersoll that the U.S. has the right to base an aircraft carrier in Japan under the Security Treaty without consulting the Japanese Government but the U.S. might want to ask Japan's opinion. Therefore the Prime Minister authorized Mr. Funada to tell Ambassador Ingersoll that if the U.S. asked Japan's opinion Japan would say yes. I believe that is an example of informal prior consultation.
MURATA: Funada said so?
AUER: Speaker Funada said that the U.S. did not have to ask Japan's opinion to base an aircraft carrier in Yokosuka since that aircraft carrier would essentially be visiting Yokosuka in the way other aircraft carriers have been visiting Yokosuka in the past. Therefore it would not be a major change in the deployment of U.S. forces in Japan.
MURATA: Do you think anyone in the U.S. government or the Japanese government knows the real, official procedure for prior consultation? We asked Mr. Hoshuyama and he doesn't know the official procedure for it.
AUER: Well, I have two answers. One is that no, I don't know (anyone who does). Secondly, as I said, I suspect that there is no formal procedure. Because there has never been, as far as I know, a formal request for prior consultation, e.g. (the U.S.). "We would like to tell you (Japan) about this, about that, etc." but informal consultations take place on a much more personal, informal basis. These are not required formally under the Security Treaty.
MURATA: Don't you think it is a weird (abnormal) situation?
AUER: No, I don't think it is weird. Let's say we didn't have a prior consultation system at all, a formal one required by the Treaty. Still, among two close allies, such as the U.S.-U.K., the U.S.-Germany, the U.S.-Japan, I think there is always this kind of informal prior consultation and discussion. So what happens in reality is quite normal I think. The formal requirement was put into the Treaty as a method of giving some notoriety to the more equal nature of 1960 security treaty as opposed to the 1952 security treaty.
MURATA: A second related question is the right of Japan to say no if consulted. Do you think Japan has a veto for...?
AUER: For which one, the formal one or the informal one?
MURATA: The formal one.
AUER: Yes, of course Japan does.
MURATA: We have? We can say no?
MURATA: If we say no, then the U.S. can not do that.
AUER: Well when you say "the U.S. can not do that," it depends on how far back you want to go. I have taught and lectured many times that I consider U.S.-Japan security relations to be divided into two twenty year periods. From 1951 to 1971, Japan had no choice but to participate. In other words, if Japan had not agreed to the 1952 security treaty, the Occupation would have continued. In 1960, if Japan had not agreed to the new terms, the 1952 security treaty would have remained in effect. Under the 1960 treaty, Japan could not abrogate for ten years. In 1970, Japan could have, for the first time, said "thank you" to the United States and announced its intention to end the security relationship one year later. In such case the United States would have been extremely unhappy. So this goes back to the question, does the U.S. have to obey? The U.S. has two choices. Obey or invade. After 1970 the U.S. would not have invaded. We would have gone home, very disappointedly, angrily, etc., but we would have gone home. If formal prior consultation were ever exercised and Japan said no, then the U.S. would obey. And even in informal cases, such as homeporting the U.S.S. MIDWAY, had Prime Minister Tanaka or some other responsible official said Japan thinks this is a bad idea, and the U.S. shouldn't do it, then I don't think the MIDWAY would have been based in Yokosuka.
MURATA: Let me give some examples for--how or when would prior consultation take place? For instance, some emergency happens in Korea and the U.S. would like to bring its forces to Korea from its bases in Japan and Japan says no.
AUER: In my opinion, the U.S. would comply with Japan's wishes. At the same time, such a situation might signal the end of the U.S.-Japan security relationship.
MURATA: But even without Japan's permission or agreement, the U.S. can move some forces from U.N. bases in Japan (you have six or seven bases under the name of the United Nations in Japan). In terms of these bases, you can bring the forces from Japan to Korea or Taiwan without Japan's agreement.
AUER: Without formally going back and reviewing all the documents, I can't speak precisely. But in any case, if in fact Japan really objected, I seriously doubt the U.S. would act, because our relationship is so close. Again, I think the Japanese government would be extremely unlikely to exercise (the veto) because of the effects it might produce on the U.S. side. But if Japan really did do so (veto), the U.S. would comply. Let me give you one example...remember that famous case during the Vietnam War when the Socialist mayor of Yokohama who later became party Chairman, Asakata, happened to seize upon a law about maximum weight on bridges. U.S. tanks landing at Camp Fuji from Vietnam and going to Sagamihara for repairs had to go over some of those bridges. I don't know if Asakata cited the Security Treaty, but he simply said tanks crossing such bridges were in violation of the law. Actually, if any two Japanese commercial trucks went over the bridge at the same time, it was frequently similarly too much. Anyway, the Japanese government was in a dilemma because the law was on the books; and, even though it cost the U.S. a huge amount of money to move those tanks by airplane to somewhere else, the U.S. didn't violate the Japanese law. We didn't move the tanks across the bridges.
MURATA: Moving to another question, after the adoption of the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, there were several studies on an emergency in Japan, the defense of Japan, an emergency in the Far East and things like that. Many newspapers and scholarly research said that in terms of the defense of Japan, the final report on their studies was presented to Prime Minister Nakasone (or Suzuki), however, studies on the Far East have not proceeded so well. Do you have any recollection about that? Some Japanese officials have said that in terms of the defense of Japan, it was okay because the JDA talked immediately with their U.S. counterparts. But in terms of the study on an emergency in the Far east, the Foreign Ministry was in charge of it, and the Foreign Ministry was not so eager to discuss such issues with their American counterparts. Why did it not progress so well?
AUER: Well, I have several comments about that. First of all, it was completely agreed upon from the beginning that these were in fact to be studies--not in any way to be commitments by either government. If, for example, a defense of Japan "plan" were to result from a "study," there was no commitment to use that plan were an emergency involving the actual defense of Japan to occur. From the U.S. point of view, plans the Pentagon has with every country, and every U.S. only plan, are all theoretical. In other words, in any concrete scenario, it is unlikely that a specific plan that has been drawn up in the past will be 100 percent useful, because the actual scenario that occurs is never exactly the one planned for. There is rarely, if ever, a perfect match. On the other hand, if a crisis does happen, and you have a plan, the scenario of which is similar, then that plan might be somewhat useful. So from the U.S. point of view, whether or not there was any commitment on the part of the two governments to, what we call "bless" or use a particular plan, it is useful in fact to do studies and write plans. In particular, for our Japanese colleagues, they hadn't had so much experience in doing such plans, so they would learn from doing them. And then if there was ever an emergency where the scenario was similar to the study, it might be useful. So I would say that was kind of the "going in" position of the United States.
You will have to interview a lot of Japanese to find out what the real Japanese position was, but let me cite a few examples. The actual so-called studies--and they were always called studies, not plans--were uniformly done at the military to military level, for Japan, the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Agency, and, for the U.S., the Commander the U.S. Forces Japan in Yokota. The late Ikeda Hisakatsu was Boei Kacho during the time of the first study. He once said to me, "This is a very nice exercise for the morale of the uniforms." (He meant the SDF, I think). "As you know, these studies in no way commit the United States or Japan. If you ever really want to seriously discuss strategy or real operational planning, you had better come to us" (he meant the civilian Internal Bureau, not the uniforms). That might have strictly been a personal opinion of Mr. Ikeda. But similarly, I suppose some people at the Foreign Ministry might have similarly thought, yes this is nice exercise for perhaps the Joint Staff's uniformed people, as well as for the JDA civilians. But the Foreign Ministry considered that they, the Foreign Ministry (the Anpo-ka) were in charge of Japan's security policy. I believe those kind of jealousies existed. The U.S. also understood that to discuss the unlikely scenario of a direct invasion of Japan was the easiest one politically for the Japanese. The U.S. knew about Mitsuya Incident and the problems it caused in the past. We also knew that it was extraordinarily unlikely (that an invasion of Japan would take place), but since that was the scenario the Japanese could do fairly easily, that was the first one selected. Of course, the studies the U.S. were most interested in were fact really Article 6 scenarios rather than Article 5 scenarios. And those were the ones that were most difficult politically for the Japanese to do.
I don't mean to minimize the Guidelines. I think the Guidelines were good, but, for example, in particular for the MSDF and the U.S. 7th Fleet, Guidelines types of activities, e.g.; planning and exercising together had been going on since the 1950s. And especially in the 1960s and 1970s, the two navies were far beyond where the Guidelines started. Some people suggested, in fact, the Guidelines, were in some ways a reflection of a jealousy, particularly on the part of the GSDF, that they didn't have the kind of interaction and connection (that existed between the two navies--I don't think that is completely true--it may contain some Navy boasting). When the study for the defense of Japan was finished, it was given some level of what I would call "blessing" on the part of the U.S. and Japanese governments. But again the U.S. considered that scenario of a Soviet invasion of Japan extraordinarily unrealistic. Even if there had been such an invasion of Japan, as I mentioned is with every plan the U.S. has, it is unlikely that that study plan would have exactly fit the actual scenario. But it would have been of some utility. So the U.S. thought it was worthwhile doing. And, as Mr. Ikeda said, it may have helped morale. More importantly, I would say it was good for the training and experience of the SDF in working with their American counterparts on a joint plan.
MURATA: Concerning Japanese participation in RIMPAC, as far as you remember, who initiated this? Was it from the Japanese side or the U.S. side? It was during the Ohira administration when it was decided.
AUER: Again, I go back to my statement that navy to navy cooperation was very close since the 1950s. I can't give you an exact date (I would suspect the first half of the 1950s rather than the second half), but at least by the second half of the 1950s MSDF ships were going to the U.S., to Hawaii and Guam, for training with the U.S. Navy. Nakayama Sadayoshi (who died in January 1995) was the first Commander of the Overseas Training Squadron which went to the United States. Every year since 1958, the MSDF has made a training cruise for the graduates of the Officer Candidate School at Etajima. Another training missions went to Guam each year. So that kind of overseas training in Hawaii was going on long before RIMPAC. In peace time there are always limitations of training budgets, so RIMPAC was designed as an exercise to which the U.S. allocated monies for training with Pacific allies on a regular basis. Since the U.S. was already training with Japan's MSDF, the U.S. talked to Japan about training in RIMPAC. And the MSDF was enthusiastic to join in because it provided a more sophisticated scenario to train with the U.S. Navy. A problem was raised by the Foreign Ministry that this exercise would give the appearance of collective security because nations other than Japan and the U.S. take part. But the MSDF kept pressing to go and the Foreign Ministry kept resisting before Japan ever went the first time. Several times Japan did not participate; and, finally, when the MSDF was allowed to participate by the Foreign Ministry, a detailed scenario was created explaining that the U.S. Navy was training in Hawaii with foreign navies. Japan was participating in exercises, but in the case of the MSDF, they were only training with the U.S. Navy, separate from all other portions of RIMPAC. And in fact, if I remember correctly, several times before that first Japanese participation, MSDF ships went to Hawaii just after the RIMPAC exercises finished, and the U.S. Navy ships in RIMPAC would then train with the MSDF. The public affairs guidance in Japan was very rigid because of the Foreign Ministry's legitimate concern about Japan's participation being potentially exploited legitimate by the Japanese press. A large number of Japanese correspondents went to RIMPAC exercises and asked all kinds of questions to the American commanders, such as did any Japanese ship interact with any Australian ship? The American Navy as well as the MSDF had to have extraordinarily detailed press guidance to insure there was no sensational reporting. Any such intention was absolute nonsense on behalf of the press because RIMPAC was nothing more than a routine training exercise.
MURATA: Wasn't there a using of the RIMPAC as a demonstration of ....
AUER: This relates to your question about Mr. Mochizuki's view of why doesn't the U.S. pull out of Okinawa.
Of course we do have transport aircraft and ships so that technically we could move lots of troops and equipment fairly rapidly across the Pacific. Mike Mochizuki is a friend and I respect him, but the psychological signal that a U.S. pull out now would send to China and North Korea is extraordinarily important and that is why I believe it would be unbelievably naive and reckless to pull out precipitously.
The training that goes on at RIMPAC is quite simply training. However the Foreign Ministry is correct that the symbol of multinational exercise is a symbol. And, during the Cold War, the U.S. wanted it to be a symbol to the Soviets particularly that, in fact, if the Soviets caused instability in the Pacific, there were American, Japanese, Australian assets or whatever that could be mobilized to counter the U.S.S.R. The U.S. didn't want to defeat (fight) the Soviets, the U.S. wanted to deter them. So on the one hand RIMPAC was a simple training exercise, but, on the other hand, in fact it was a special psychological signal. And for Japan there were sensitive, political implications to Japan's participating in that exercise.
MURATA: From when did you feel that the Soviets presented a threat in the Pacific?
AUER: We never felt that we couldn't, if we really had to, fight the Soviets effectively in the Pacific. I mean the biggest worry by far was an overwhelming Warsaw Pact ground attack in Europe. The U.S. is a maritime country and the Soviets weren't. We could win in the Pacific. Given the extraordinary numbers of ships and aircraft that the Soviets did finally accumulate in Pacific Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, and, given the fact that so many Soviet naval units were nuclear capable, that the U.S. could really have won in any way worth winning (without a nuclear conflict) was a serious, serious concern. And in Japan's case, given Japan's proximity and vulnerability due to its small size, Japan's chance at surviving that kind of a war was less than that of the U.S. So, the U.S. never felt that we were overwhelmed by the Soviets in the Pacific, but we were extraordinarily concerned about what 100 submarines out of Vladivostok could do. The least concern to the U.S. was the MINSK and the other helicopter carrier based in Vladivostok. Tanba Minoru, when he was Anpo Kachoo, used to say and I couldn't have agreed with him more, that we should have said thank you to the Soviets for so much aiding the defense consciousness of Japan by their stupid behavior. The U.S.S. MIDWAY could have dealt with the MINSK in ten minutes. The one army division in the Northern Territories was similarly useless, but those Soviet acts, putting the MINSK in Vladivostok and putting the division in the Hoppo Ryodo, that got people's attention in Japan. The U.S. wasn't concerned about those forces at all. But 100 submarines, nuclear equipped, and their missiles, and 3000 combat aircraft, those really worried us, not the MINSK, not the division. But the U.S. and Japan used the MINSK, we used the division and the air craft to make the Japanese people conscious of the fact that the Soviets were a real problem in Pacific Asia as well as in Europe.
MURATA: When and where did the concept of 1000 nautical miles come from?
AUER: Well, that was what I would call the strategy, the hope, or the wish of the MSDF for a long time. When I was doing dissertation research in 1970, one of the most meaningful of the 200 interviews I had was with Professor Mastataka Kosaka of Kyoto University. When I met with him, he said I really feel sorry for you because you are writing your dissertation about the MSDF. He said he could understand the mission of the GSDF and the ASDF, but he had no idea what the mission of the MSDF was. From that moment, my thesis became clear. The MSDF was a military force that had no mission. It didn't know what it's mission was. The government had never given it a mission other than "defend Japan." For a navy, to wait until an invasion comes to the nation's territory, well, what was there to do? So 1000 mile sea lane protection was an attempt on the part of the MSDF to give itself a mission. And that mission had been mentioned in the Defense Agency's Mid Term Estimate in the 1970s but it was definitely not mentioned in the 1976 National Defense Program Outline (NDPO). The NDPO was regarded as Japan's defense policy. The Reagan-Suzuki communique (which said there was to be division of labor between the U.S. and Japan) was good, but what the Japanese roles and responsibilities would be was not stated. As I recounted earlier in this interview, very innocently, i.e., the U.S. did not put him up to this, a non-Japanese, Asian reporter asked Prime Minister Suzuki at the press club what was the meaning of the statement he made with President Reagan the previous day. He wanted to know what the Japanese missions were under this division of labor? And Mr. Suzuki read a prepared answer that Japan could, within the limits of it's constitution defend its own territory, defend the seas and skies around Japan, and in the case of the sea lanes, defend them to 1000 miles. Then he said "This is Japan's national policy." As I said earlier, I immediately got on the phone to the political section of the Japanese Embassy. Was this a new statement of Japanese policy or did the Prime Minister misspeak? The response was that the Prime Minister did not communicate a new policy but that he clarified Japan's national defense policy. I said you mean the Prime Minister did not misspeak--this is Japan's national policy. And the answer was yes. Then, as I said, Mr. Armitage informed Secretary Weinberger who was delighted. And Secretary Weinberger made a major speech supporting Japan's statement of its own missions under the Reagan-Suzuki communique. Then Mr. Nakasone became Prime Minister in 1982, and, without any suggestion from the U.S. side, he said one of his major goals as prime minister would be to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship and to build up Japan's capability to carry its duties as set forth in the Reagan-Suzuki communique.
MURATA: My last question concerns your evaluation of the new Taiko (Defense Outline). Do you think there has been any progress as compared with the old Taiko?
AUER: That is interesting, because we did discuss that here in Hiroshima this week. In my opinion, owing to the extraordinarily misleading article by Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times, the new Taiko has been viewed negatively in the U.S. as a streamlining and reduction of Japan's defense capability. In fact the reductions are extraordinarily minor, the biggest so-called reduction is actually no reduction at all, but merely a bringing of the authorized strength of the GSDF down to what the real strength has been--down from the 180,000 to the 155,000. Since the size of the GSDF has always been dubiously high anyway, it's not any kind of a serious reduction. But although the Defense Agency's explanation of the new Taiko was a little bit timid, in fact I would say there are one or two hints in the new Taiko that Japan is moving in the direction of recognizing its collective self-defense right. Now a decision to do that can only be made by Japan's political leadership. But I would say, almost implicit in the new Taiko, is the expectation, on the part of the people who wrote it or modified it or approved it that that a political decision allowing collective self-defense would be made in Japan sometime in the foreseeable future, some time in the next five to ten years. So overall, I view it as positive. I would say the Higuchi Committee's report is even better, but I am sure the new Taiko was influenced by the Murayama administration.
MURATA: In which sense was the Higuchi Report better?
AUER: I would have to get out both documents to compare, but I would say that I found more things that were progressive in the Higuchi Report.
MURATA: But as you know when the Higuchi report came out, some Americans were worried because it emphasized multilateral security cooperation more than bilateral cooperation.
AUER: Yes, well, in that regard the Clinton administration has been more confusing than the Higuchi report. Multilateral cooperation is a fine thing to talk about. People much younger than I might see effective multilateral cooperation in their lifetimes, but I don't expect to. And yet we should try. But we should try it in Asia from the basis of the U.S.Japan security treaty and reaching out. We shouldn't scrap the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and try to build a multilateral system. I don't know the situation in Japan, but as Americans get older (I am 55 years old but I have three young children), if they want to get a new insurance policy, they are always told not to cancel their old insurance policy until the new one is approved because if the insurance company suddenly find something wrong in one's health and the existing policy has expired, they might not have any insurance. So, to say, let's scrap the U.S.-Japan security treaty and make a multilateral one, could be dangerous. I think we are a long way from success, e.g., the ARF (Asian Regional Forum) so far doesn't "bark," i.e., shows little if any real progress. Many people write articles--isn't this wonderful, we have multilateral discussions. I think it is fine to have multilateral discussions, but I don't think successful multilateralism will be an immediate event.
MURATA: Thank you very much.