Murata: I would first like to confirm some of the particulars of your career. I had someone research your background in the Record of Japanese Gentlemen (Nihon Shinshiroku) and found that you were born in Showa 2 (1927), and after your graduation from the faculty of law at Tohoku University you entered the Procurement Agency. After that, you were employed as a councilor in the administrative bureau of the National Defense Council (Kokubo Kaigi no Jimukyoku). Do you remember how long you served as the defense section director after that time?
Natsume: I became the defense section director in Showa 48 (1973), and served there until Showa 50 (1975).
Murata: And, after that you were the general department director (somu kacho), and then in 51 (1976) you moved to government deliberations (shingikan)?
Murata: So, you were a councilor, then the director of the personnel education bureau (jinji kyoiku kyokucho), the secretariat director (kanbocho), and the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) administrative vice minister, and you retired in 60 (1985). To begin with, we spoke with Mr. Nishihiro about two weeks before his death last year. I think we have asked you to look over the transcript from that interview, Mr. Maruyama and others have said that they remember things differently than we were told by Mr. Nishihiro. Even Mr. Hoshuyama said that, although he was not personally involved, there are some things in the interview that seem a bit strange. If Mr. Nishihiro were still alive, we could have asked him about these matters and he may have changed or added some information, but since that is impossible now, we hoped that you would answer a few questions that may help clarify some of these areas. In the interview, Mr. Nishihiro says that just before the Okinawa reversion, the central bureaucracy in the JDA, consisting of Nishihiro plus a few other bureaucrats and a small group of uniformed personnel, came up with some contingency plans for the situation in Korea, thought about different scenarios that could happen there, and took those plans to the highest levels of the JDA. However, the minister and vice minister said that there would be objections if these plans were advocated as the opinion of everyone in the JDA, so Nishihiro said that he took those plans to the councilor from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and they probably went from there to the MOFA itself. Recently, the Korean issues have come to the forefront again, and it seems to us that there were some patterns that were followed at that time and Nishihiro also basically talked about some fundamental patterns of the time. Do you..... ?
Natsume: To which year are you referring?
Murata: The period of time just before the Okinawa reversion.
Natsume: In that case, 46 (1971) and 47 (1972), right?
Natsume: What was he doing at the time?
Murata: I believe he was the defense section assistant or something like that. (1971 - director of the technical accounting section; 1972 - director of the public relations section)
Natsume: I don't know anything about that subject. Apart from whether or not he did this, I have never heard of something like this being taken up to the JDA leadership. There is no question that the uniformed personnel studied this as their central focus, but I don't know about which members of that group did this. I was going to the National Defense Council at the time because I was the director of the education section. The uniformed people definitely studied it. I imagine we'll talk more later about issues related to this.
Murata: Would it be right to assume that they researched a fairly broad range of things?
Natsume: More than a range, they raised and studied a number of specific cases regarding the way that Japan was reacting to a crisis situation. But I don't think that these studies could have escaped from the staff regions where they were being researched, and they certainly were not to the point where they would be ready to send to higher levels. And when they did go up, they would not have gone to the minister, but to the level of the uniformed officers.
Murata: Did the staff director and the central bureaucrats have that kind formal policy?
Natsume: Later on I'll talk some more about it, it became one opportunity for problems to arise. I think that it was one reason that the guidelines were completed, and joint military exercises began. These subjects were not fit to be studied by those in the uniformed level, and, I've forgotten the exact name, but they became part of a strategy plan. It seemed that this might raise some problems, but because people thought that misunderstandings would arise from providing specific names to things that deviated from the JDA-established plans, from then on we established the process of trying to slowly make a change in course.
Murata: Before that, there was the three arrow (mitsuya) plan, right?
Natsume: That was a long time before, but it was a similar case. A single study came to be known as the mitsuya plan. That was staff research; it began as nothing more than research. However, soldiers like to put names on the plans that they execute, don't they.
Murata: Of course, a lot of work went into it from the side of the uniformed personnel. Did the discussion ever get to the point where it seemed like the MOFA was involved?
Natsume: No, I don't think so. I mean, there might have been some talking with people from some part of MOFA or another, but I am unaware of it. I became the defense section director soon after this and I, at least, have never heard of that kind of thing.
Murata: I see. From 48 (1973) to 50 (1975) when you were the defense section director, wasn't Mr. Nishihiro the section assistant?
Natsume: No, he had already left the JDA.
Murata: Oh, really? One other point, Nishihiro said something in the interview that may seem like common sense to a specialist in the field. Regarding the introduction of nuclear weapons, he said that bringing nuclear weapons into the actual land territory of Japan was what was meant by "introduction," but, as many have said, the "transit" of nuclear weapons aboard a U.S. ship through a Japanese port did not qualify as an "introduction." He very plainly said that this was common sense to anyone in the military, and I think that the combination of pressure from opposition parties and the Reischauer statement about nuclear weapons caused the Japanese government to include the "transit" of nuclear weapons as something that it would not allow. What do you think about that subject?
Natsume: Yes, I feel the same as you on that one.
Murata: Do you really?
Natsume: I do think that it is common sense.
Murata: Common sense?
Natsume: Politically. things took a turn away from the government position, and it had to change and follow this new course even though it felt unnatural about it. In my mind, I thought that it was complete nonsense to change the position at all.
Murata: In questioning before the Diet, though, the transit of nuclear weapons-laden ships was seen in the broad sense as an introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan. Thus, it was reasoned that because Japan had the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, and because the United States knew those principles, the United States would honor Japan's wishes and keep the weapons out of Japan altogether.
Natsume: The only options were prior consultation or not bringing them in at all. The premise was that in the absence of a prior consultation, the ships coming to Japanese ports would not contain nuclear weapons. In effect, the Three Principles were constructed on top of a fictional premise. To put it plainly, there was the feeling that one or two of the cabinets at the time had been deceived. It was not something that anyone could really say openly, but it clearly was recognized by everyone involved, including the MOFA.
Murata: I see. Would you say, for example, that there was an explicit understanding with America about this? Are you saying that in the Diet transit was the same as introduction, but in the actual levels of the government where decisions were made, transit was understood to be different than introduction?
Natsume: In the JDA, we really weren't involved with this.
Murata: You weren't?
Natsume: I don't know whether it happened as you said in the MOFA, but.....
Murata: Would it be correct to assume that the MOFA and the JDA together understood this situation as common sense and quietly applied this understanding to their behavior?
Natsume: But, you see, I have never even spoken of the subject of nuclear problems with the MOFA.
Murata: Oh, I see.
Tanaka: I'm sorry I'm late. Please excuse me.
Natsume: Oh, hello.
Murata: We have been discussing two or three areas that are problematic with Nishihiro's interview. I have been hearing explanations regarding the Korean problem contingency plans and the introduction of nuclear weapons.
Natsume: Honestly, I remember often jokingly saying at the time that when you take sake into a drinking establishment, it is called mochikomi (to bring in, introduce) when you drink it there. When you leave it in the bag and only drink the sake that you buy there, and take the other bottle home to drink, that is also called mochikomi so I think that there is a problem with that word.
Murata: Well, on a related subject, I have asked several people about prior consultation. Was there a specific understanding of the question "what is prior consultation?" at the JDA when you were there? For example, was it seen as a "hot line" where the leaders of America called Japanese leaders with various requests, or was it perceived as a conference where mid-level bureaucrats from the JDA met with their American counterparts to discuss things? Really, though, there was no prior consultation so you may not have much to say about it.
Natsume: To tell the truth, I have never really thought about what prior consultation should have meant. I personally think, though, that common sense seems to point to one-way information about a situation rather than an interactive conference type of consultation. I think that it would have been a direct request, whether it was in the form of a letter, a telegram, or a message from the ambassador, and I don't think it would have been something that we could debate and say, "today we got a prior consultation, what should we do about it?" One way or the other, however, I really haven't thought much about it.
Tanaka: Excuse me.
Natsume: When we get into the 1970s, I can answer questions about things that I was involved in, but I think there were many areas that I knew nothing about and cannot answer to. When I looked at the Nishihiro interview, I did see some areas that seemed a little bit strange, but they are all things that I don't know much about myself and he was in a high position where he could have gained knowledge about them; he could have heard things when he was the defense bureau director. Other than him, Mr. Hoshuyama was also there at the time, so he may have heard something and might know about these things. There was also Ito Keiichi who was there at the same time.
Murata: Was he the Mr. Ito who was the National Defense Council administrative bureau director?
Natsume: At the end he had that position. At some point during the 1970s, he was the defense section director or something like that. Basically, people would change position about every two years, so we would get an idea of a cross section of each issue, but not enough to really understand things. There may, therefore, be discrepancies in the different accounts of that time.
Tanaka: So, you were the defense section director from 1973?
Natsume: Yes, for two years from Showa 48 (1973).
Tanaka: And before that..... ?
Natsume: Before that I had been the education section director for about two years. And before that I was in the National Defense Council.
Tanaka: In that case, you would have become the defense section director during the summer of 1973?
Natsume: Yes, I think that is probably when it happened. The normal time for position shuffling was May or June.
Tanaka: So, that was about the time when you were told to come up with a "peacetime defense capability estimate"?
Natsume: It was after that came out. Basically, the new third defense plan was coming to a close and we were debating whether or not to come up with a fourth plan. The premise for that fourth plan was the "peacetime defense capability estimate." That estimate included the different steps that had been discussed before.
Tanaka: From what I have been able to ascertain, when the need for a fourth defense plan was being discussed, Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei told the JDA minister to come up with a "peacetime defense capability estimate," and this estimate came out.
Natsume: No, I don't think the "peacetime defense capability estimate" came down as a directive from such a high place.
Tanaka: In that case, what do you think is the best way to look at it?
Natsume: Well, the defense bureau director at the time was Mr. Kubo, and he thought that there had been a problem up to this point in the JDA defense capability procurement plans. He was an extremely "soft" individual. He said that it seemed impossible to implement the plans that were designed to meet threats. Then, Kubo envisaged a different approach that would appeal more to the citizenry. There were also instructions accompanying this new approach that described how much of the necessary defense capability would be put off until the future.
Tanaka: Was that during the Tanaka cabinet? Or was it during Nakasone?
Natsume: No, it was different during Nakasone.
Tanaka: You mean around the time of the conclusion of the fourth defense plan?
Natsume: No, I think the decision about whether the fourth plan would be applied or not was made during this time. I believe it was announced before the Diet. The plan provided for a very large defense capability. It was only a rough account of the minimum that was necessary to meet the threats facing Japan at the time, but that is what we did.
Tanaka: Didn't public opinion look poorly on this development?
Natsume: Yes, negative opinion was strong. But, this was not a case of us saying that this is what we would do, it was nothing more than an estimate of what would be necessary if the decision to implement it were made. You see, we did it because we wanted to show that this was really an impossible, or at least unrealistic task.
Tanaka: At the time, Kubo put forth his personal K. B. Thesis, right. I have heard that this was distributed in the JDA and was the source of much discussion and argument. Did you notice any of this during the period just before you became the defense section director?
Natsume: Yes, I did see it. We didn't often debate theses in public, but it is a fact that the uniformed personnel were very much against it. The figures in it were nowhere near where they should have been for this period of time. Most military people were of the opinion that this thesis was pure nonsense.
Murata: The fierce opposition from the uniformed groups is very understandable, but what would you say was the reaction of the civilians in the JDA toward this?
Natsume: The reaction of the civilians was diverse. I think there were many who individually felt that this was the way we were going to have to think about this subject in the future, and they tended to call attention to it. Although some thought that this thesis was correct, after thinking about actually making the plan, negotiating with the Finance Ministry financial affairs bureau, and getting down to the work of implementing it with the bureaucracy, more civilians in the JDA probably felt that although the drop in defense that it called for was too much, it was probably all that we could get. I had just become the defense section director and Nishihiro, after he had developed things, basically handed them over to me. Just then, a new minister, Sakata Michita, was assigned to the JDA and he was a very liberal person who exerted a lot of influence on the structure of Kubo's plan. So, within that environment we were supposed to come up with a defense outline, and we came up with several versions and sent them up the ladder. What I thought then and still believe today is that a Japanese standing defense force could always enlarge itself during times of crisis, and after that, the articles of the Outline could be expanded. I tried to separate those things when I dealt with this subject. Mr. Sakata also thought that that approach was OK. However, the Defense Plan Outline was not only made by the JDA, and public support had to be obtained also. Therefore, we consulted some intellectuals who were knowledgeable with the subject, such as Aragaki and Kakuta Fusako.
Tanaka: This was the "Defense Issues Consideration Committee" (boei o kangaeru kai), correct?
Natsume: Yes, we put together the "Consideration Committee" and had them discuss these things, and from that point about one year passed. After that, this concept was used in the defense plan although a number of phrases were changed. Because of it, we changed the name to the "Fundamental Defense Capabilities" (kibanteki boeiryoku)
Tanaka: Before Mr. Kubo became the vice minister he was the director of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency (DFAA), right? What is the best way to understand this kind of personnel movement? What I mean is, during the time that Kubo opposed the way of thinking that led to the fundamental defense capabilities approach, he became defense bureau director, and then DFAA director. He became DFAA director before Sakata arrived; when he arrived, Kubo was still the DFAA director and then became administrative vice minister, right? Regarding the fact that Sakata arrived as JDA minister during the time that Kubo was the DFAA director, what mutual action did Kubo take at the time; in other words, who exerted the strongest influence? Could you please tell us what happened regarding these things?
Natsume: I don't know if this will answer your question or not. Regarding the personnel matters of the original JDA, to put it in a blunt and easy to understand manner, there was the attitude that one had to at least go through some of the hard work associated with the defense bureau directorship and the DFAA directorship before becoming vice minister. I guess it is more or less the same today. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, though. There were exceptions then too, but most people went through the normal route. During Kubo's time, he did have a superior in the National Police Agency who did become vice minister without serving as defense bureau or DFAA director. He became vice minister, but things were just getting confusing with the Okinawa reversion issues at the time and he had trouble in front of the Diet and in the advance stages of the fourth defense plan. As you might expect, without having experience in those areas before, he was at a disadvantage. Looking at it today, Kubo did not necessarily need to serve as defense bureau and DFAA director, but at the time, there was a question over whether Kubo or a person that had come over from the Finance Ministry would become vice minister first. I'm not sure exactly how things worked, but Mr. Tashiro, who had come from the Finance Ministry, became vice minister first and served for about one year before returning. The way that the personnel advancement happened at that particular time was that Kubo followed him in office. Even though Kubo ended up in the DFAA for a time, I suspect he used his spare time thinking about the things that were important to the defense bureau or as the vice minister.
Tanaka: In that case, was there a debate within the JDA over which overall defense policy was best to pursue? Did you have some sort of bureaucratic committee that covered that question?
Natsume: For the most part, the defense bureau put together recommendations of defense matters, but they did not, of course, just make any bill that they pleased. They would try to reach consensus while debating the issues with the uniformed personnel and others, and would discuss it in councilor meetings and eventually present the final product to the JDA minister during an agency conference. That meant that the defense bureau director was the most important person in the process. The DFAA director had very little to do with it.
Tanaka: This is a bit different than the usual line about this subject isn't it?
Murata: Was the DFAA director a member of the council?
Natsume: He was not really a member but he customarily attended.
Murata: Was the central director of the investigative department also included?
Natsume: No, he was not. The DFAA director was included, but he was only called to meetings when the particular theme related to his responsibilities. But, it seems that ended up being called to attend most meetings, just like today. So, during that time, Kubo had little influence on policy. I think the K. B. Thesis played the role of being out in the outfield.
Tanaka: However, in the memorial volume of Kubo's writings, there were some personal theses written in 1994 or so. Were those..... ?
Murata: Do you mean 1974?
Tanaka: These were written while he was out of the mainstream.
Natsume: I think so. As you might imagine, while he was out of the mainstream, he remembered his old dream. In other words, he obviously was very interested in the defense bureau and the defense bureau directorship, but was not concerned with the DFAA's problems with individual military bases and such. It's strange, but at the beginning of the talks about the U.S.-Japan "guidelines," which I had brought up when I was a defense section director, Kubo was very much opposed to things.
Tanaka: Why was that?
Natsume: I think that he had fearful thoughts at first about beginning a defense cooperation relationship with the United States.
Tanaka: What were those fears based on? Was he afraid that Japan would become involved as an ally if the U.S. started a war?
Natsume: I don't really know. It wasn't that he didn't care about the issue, he did think about it a lot, and I thought that he would lend his support in a positive way. At the time, I was the defense section director and had gone to him for advice several times. Because he was my superior in the defense bureau, I was actually serving under him.
Tanaka: That gives one an unexpected feeling, doesn't it.
Natsume: Very strange. If I could have heard Mr. Maruyama's interview, I'll bet that I would have heard the same kinds of things.
Tanaka: He did say something similar, didn't he. Vice-Minister Murayama was a very positive person, wasn't he?
Natsume: Yes, he was a positive person.
Murata: So while Maruyama was bureau director, you were section director?
Natsume: No, during Kubo's time as bureau director, I was still a staff member. I thought that Kubo would give positive support to back us up, but I seem to recall the surprise I felt when he began to oppose things against my expectations. Nonetheless, Maruyama and Sakata intended to go through with it anyway and their result was the guidelines we have now. This meant that, as in the other situation we discussed earlier, there was not anything mysterious about the process. It went exactly as it had been planned.
Tanaka: According to Maruyama in his recent interview, the thinking behind the fundamental defense capability planning was very simple and.....
Natsume: I think that position is a bit irresponsible. He was the defense bureau director at the time. This isn't something that I really want to discuss on tape. ..... Thus, I don't really know whether he was for or against this. I do think that he was basically against the guidelines that propelled the specific U.S.-Japan defense cooperation.
Murata: Oh, I see.
Natsume: The most supportive group was the Maritime Self Defense Forces (MSDF).
Murata: Are you including the military officers when you talk about things within the Agency?
Natsume: No, they were not against it. "within the agency" means groups that were specifically inside the JDA.
Murata: Was the central bureaucracy..... ?
Natsume: In essence, when you think about this single type of foreign policy, you have to take care about crossing that dangerous bridge.
Tanaka: As an organization it separated itself from the way things had been done up to that point.....
Natsume: In and of itself, I think this was a good thing. It is clear that these checks did exist.
Tanaka: About U.S.-Japan defense cooperation, when did the groups in the JDA that were negative about it decide that this was the best way to do things?
Natsume: I may just be repeating what others have told me, but I went back and wrote out this chronological table of events. In March of Showa 50 (1975), Ueda Tetsu asked these things before the budget committee of the House of Councilors. There was a secret strategic plan between Japan and the United States, wasn't there? It was basically that Japan was in charge of protecting the sea area in the triangle between Yokosuka, Midway, and the Philippines. Ueda pointed out that this arrangement would probably lead to collective security. Those kinds of things usually don't exist and they end without much progress, but what I thought was different about this one was that Sakata had a very scholarly air about him and said, "This kind of things doesn't exist now, but in the future it will probably be necessary. Let's all be positive about it." He further said that although this agreement was not something that people thought about at the time and there was no specific plan, it was a necessary thing. Therefore, we adopted forward-looking answers to immediately answer any questions from the United States. It was this that Ueda Tetsu heard about and pulled some marvelous things out of. In this environment, like I said before, Sakata got some of his questions from the things that Ueda was saying. In actuality, it may be incorrect to say that this was a secret kept by the military personnel, but this research done between America and Japan was certainly done secretly.
There are also, of course, other things that are unique to the Japanese defense plans. They are formed on the assumption and premise of U.S. support and assistance, but it would have been unrealistic to rely completely on the fact that the United States would come to Japan's aid. Everyone knew that such a reliance would be the wrong approach. We had a talk with the United States and said that this was chiefly a U.S.-Japan military force, or in other words, a Pacific military force, and wasn't something in which the Pentagon directly participated. It was like a completely uniformed bureaucrat-level study group, and it would have been better if it had consulted with the other study groups. This kind of thing was repeated again and again, and within those there were several important cases. They looked at each individual scenario, and as they did that with many scenarios, eventually a sort of plan emerged. It wasn't really a plan, and it didn't cause much of an uproar, but there was some grumbling. It was bad because it went beyond the scope of the JDA's defense role. It was a situation where the Japanese government as a whole had to look at the issue, or an amendment would have to be made. Because of that fact, it was necessary for the type of government control called civilian control to push forward this plan. Using the opportunity provided by Ueda Tetsu's questions, Sakata said that these things would be cleared up as the first goal of his administration. He answered that it was important to accomplish this in a positive way.
Soon afterwards, the Miki-Ford summit was used as a venue where the people who were really in charge of the defense relationship could get together and advance the discussions on this point. I think you are already aware of this, but Sakata and Schlessinger got together to advance the cause of the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Sub-Committee (Nichibei Boei Kyoryoku Koiinkai). Thus, these were its origins.
Murata: But, was there little positive effort put forth by the American side? Did the American side say that it wanted to help advance the idea of that kind of U.S.-Japan cooperation?
Natsume: They did go that far. Earlier there was some of that attitude, but it wasn't as dedicated as you suggest. You see, frankly, America still did not have high expectations for Japan on this front. One other thing to point out is that things just happened to work out with good timing this time. What I mean is that America was extremely tired because of its involvement in Vietnam and the situation in the United States was that of distress over the U.S. defense spending estimates. The Vietnam war, in fact ended in 1975.....
Tanaka: That was the fall of Saigon.
Natsume: That was when it began, around that time. Was this the Carter administration? When Carter assumed office, the U.S. defense estimate shrunk while the Soviet Union continued to increase rapidly, although I'm not sure about the international affairs issues around the time of......
Tanaka: Yes, Angola in 1975 and 76.
Natsume: There were lots of things. This was the period of time when the uniformed personnel burned their hands on many things. At the same time, America had the very difficult task of being the only country willing to cope with these situations. It seems that just when the United States began to vaguely think that it would be nice if the different countries in the "democratic world" would take charge of the stability of their own regions, the Japanese discussion about the guidelines came up. I remember that the United States was very receptive to the idea.
Murata: When you speak of America, at this time are you referring completely to those in the Pentagon?
Natsume: Yes, the Pentagon. More than just the Pentagon, it was those who were in charge of getting authorization from the president.
Murata: So during this time, the time that you were involved in these discussions, you were the defense section director. In that case, you were one of the earliest people in an administrative level post to be involved, weren't you. What was it like? When you talked with the American side, can you recall what kind of people your American counterparts were? From the Pentagon, was it Abromowitz and others like him?
Natsume: Abromowitz was one of them I believe. West and..... the others don't come to mind, the U.S. often did this sort of thing.
Murata: Oh, I see.
Natsume: I wonder if I can remember any of them. There was a MOFA defense bureau director who was against these meetings at the time. It would be strange to tell you his name, but I got the feeling that the MOFA America bureau director was negative and thought it was a bad idea. If I remember correctly, this all happened after Mr. Togo became the vice minister.
Tanaka: He became vice minister in 1975, right?
Natsume: After that person became vice minister, the atmosphere in the MOFA changed completely. From then on, the attitude was that the MOFA should do its best to encourage and support the JDA in this matter.... At least that is what I remember.
Tanaka: I think this was 1975. In 1976 there was the Outline, and the one percent ceiling happened in the fall of 1976. The next defense white paper explained the fundamental defense capability plan in detail, but looking back on it, how shall I say, as the Soviet military continued to grow quickly, there were many who said that this plan was already outdated. I think the Soviet military strengthening efforts were becoming evident by 1976 and 1977.
Natsume: Yes, we did start to notice it. Honestly, though, talks with America still seemed to reveal its war weariness from Vietnam. That atmosphere was so strong that I didn't feel that America was very willing to oppose the Soviet military strengthening. But, of course, Reagan..... when did Reagan come to office?
Murata: Reagan was from 1981.
Natsume: Showa 56 (1981), then. Before that there was the invasion of Afghanistan in 54 (1979).....
Murata: Yes, it happened in 1979, so it was the end of 54.
Natsume: My impression is that the invasion was the first time the Americans opened their eyes to the situation. During that year's SCC meeting, I seem to recall that they began to express some misgivings about the situation. But, still at this time, they still seemed to think that the fire was on the opposite bank of the river. Afghanistan was the first thing that startled them into thinking that something bad was happening. This happened about the same time as Reagan came to power, and the Reagan administration advocated a "strong America" stance. Nonetheless, there was no way that America could be everywhere at once, so they expected each country to ensure the proper level of diligence against this threat.
Tanaka: In that case, when the guidelines were completed, the Soviet threat was still not very.....
Natsume: There was none. Honestly, there still was no threat because they came out just before this time.
Murata: Did the talk of U.S. troop withdrawal from Korea during the Carter administration catch the JDA severely off guard?
Natsume: Yes, yes, yes. We thought that this was truly a strange person to do something like that.
Murata: Was there any effort to make a protest or send a report of your opinions to America?
Natsume: I don't recall that I protested it. However, because we saw this as a serious problem, I do remember discussing it at length. Especially Mr. Carter did not have a very good reputation with us. As you might imagine, when Reagan came in, we thought that here was a President who thought a lot about defense issues and was concerned with global security.
Tanaka: From the end of the Nixon administration to the Carter administration, we were not sure whether the U.S. had a decent policy or not because of the Watergate Incident.
Murata: I would like to ask one more thing about the guidelines. Up to this point, the people we have spoken with from the JDA have said that at this time, the guidelines were used to begin some research. On subject was research of possible emergencies directly involving Japan, and another was research on possible emergencies in East Asia as a whole. From what we have been able to gather, the Japan emergency research was advanced quite well, but the East Asia emergency research didn't really go anywhere.
Natsume: It didn't go far.
Murata: Up to this point, in listening to responses on this subject including that by Mr. Nishihiro, the reason for this lack of research on East Asian emergencies seems to be most linked to the fact that the MOFA was in charge of it and they didn't really put much effort into it.....
Natsume: I think that is correct. More than that they weren't interested in it, though, the MOFA just couldn't do it alone. It was a subject that concerned every ministry. The MOFA did a good job of dealing with situations that arose on a daily basis, but they didn't have people in their staff who would really apply themselves to this subject..... all of the people who worked on it were in the security section. They had no time nor means to deal with the kind of research that we were discussing. America, though, did not think that Japan emergency research was the most important thing and neither did we. We didn't think so, but from our point of view, when we looked at things pertaining to Japan's defense, if we had put emergencies that directly affected Japan aside when we discussed things, we would have had trouble making the Japanese public understand. We did things this way but we completely understood that America thought that the East Asian problem research was more important and they became very frustrated with us. The guidelines were there, but the things we really wanted to use them for were relegated to second or third priority.
Murata: You said that these things were not the most important to you, but from a technical standpoint, without discussing Japan's individual emergencies, .....
Natsume: We had to discuss them. I think that originally, Japan's defense capability only needed to be a supplement for America's military forces. In effect, it was an international division of labor. I especially think that the MSDF moved in that direction, spending nearly all its time working on anti-submarine strategy. The MSDF leaned strongly in this direction. However, if America really had military power that expanded over the whole earth, it would have been acceptable to leave all of the remaining military matters to the U.S. military. It was a good thing for Japan, though, that the U.S. 7th fleet, the Pacific Fleet, could move freely in the area.
Tanaka: About the fact that America was frustrated, did they ever ask you to try harder to move toward their idea of the right way to do things?
Natsume: America knew the internal workings of Japan very well, so it tried its hardest not to apply undue pressure on Japan. I guess they were waiting for an appropriate time while they were trying to respect Japan's position. Instead of direct pressure, they tried to approach Japan in more indirect ways.
Tanaka: Is it best to view these as your impressions when you served as the defense bureau director and the vice-minister?
Natsume: The research under the guidelines at that time advanced the Japan emergency research without dealing with the East Asia emergency research, and America became prepared for that side of things. They gave us the large compliment of saying that Japan was finally fulfilling the role of partner to the United States. They said this, but I think they really wished we would put more effort into the East Asia research. Thus, when I became defense bureau director, I began to hear some complaints about it. American officials did not begin to say at this point that Japan must participate in the broad arena of East Asian emergencies. They became much more specific, asking things like when there was a problem in Korea, could Japan do this, or could Japan do that. They would then say that if Japan expected to participate in such a crisis, they should probably change their defense structure. This also related to research about sea lanes and focused on inter-operability, mutual technical affairs, and at the extreme, related to strong policies like the FSX. The results were consistent. They would begin by pushing for an increased defense estimate or an increase in the rate of defense expansion, and when that was denied, they would try a different approach. But, in the end, everyone's aims seemed to come together. It felt like they would remember the times when Japan had agreed in the past and frame their approach the same as they had done in those successes.
Tanaka: So, it seems that they would push for the implementation of things that Japan was capable of but had not yet done. In that case, with regard to the guidelines, they realized that it was not a good idea to surprise Japan by referring to the sixth clause, because Japan still had much to do in the fifth clause.
Natsume: Well, it did seem that way. Honestly speaking.
Murata: Do you think that the Carter administration and the Reagan administration had very different approaches to placing pressure on Japan to increase its share of the defense burden?
Natsume: They were a bit different. Only the Carter administration seemed to place a lot of emphasis on numbers. For example, after the invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter administration began to push for a specific increase of Japan's defense capabilities and soon afterwards, Carter met with Prime Minister Ohira. That was the first time that the U.S. side sought a higher pace in Japan's defense build-up, but I'm sure you know all about that. Up to that point, there was general encouragement from the United States to put more effort into defense, but specific numbers were discussed only after Afghanistan. When Brown came to Japan, he used words like "steady and significant" to encourage Japan's rising defense capability. At this point we began hearing over and over things like, "you have to move faster, "you have to do better than last year," or "the Outline is already outdated."
Tanaka: At that time, what did you think was the best way to work with the Outline?
Natsume: The fundamental recognition of the Americans was that the Outline was no good, and that it was out of date. They asked if we didn't think that something was wrong, but the Japanese government was not about to jump to the topic of whether the Outline was no good. Rather, its position was that Japan should hurry and complete the stipulations of the outline and then move on to something else. Therefore, I had the impression that every year there would be calls to increase it by double digits and that it would be constantly changing.
Tanaka: At that time, after the invasion of Afghanistan, we began to see books written about the Soviet threat by Mr. Takeda, who was originally a uniformed officer, and several others. They seem to be saying almost the same thing that you have told us was said by the United States at this time. Their argument was that the Outline was mistaken, and that the whole idea of fundamental defense capability planning was flawed. Would you say that this was the mainstream view of the uniformed personnel inside the JDA?
Natsume: Yes, it probably was.