Murata: As the first question, I would like to ask you about the situation of the Defense Agency at the time you joined it in 1956.
Nishihiro: Well, it was in the period when the Mid-term Plan, often called the 2nd Defense Plan, which was the first Five-Year Plan for Japan's postwar defense policy, was in the process of being formulated. In fact, I think that this the period was the turning point in the process. The reason is that, since 1954, when the Mid-term Plan was initiated, various committees such as the 'Y' Committee, veterans committee, and so on had been established. Further, the initial perspective for the Plan was not provided from the governmental plan in the Defense Agency but from the various suggestions given by the committees. The suggestions at the outset were called the rearmament plan. Thus, the reason behind the Plan was, of course, to amend the (Article 9) of the Japanese Constitution and, then, to rearm the Japanese military. Consequently, the Plan required thinking on a large scale as, for example, it allowed for the purchase of about 1000 fighter planes. However, around 1956, the Plan had begun to be transformed into a close and detailed one like the present form. That was, I think, the domestic situation surrounding the Defense Agency at the time.
In addition, the very existence of Japanese land , sea, and air forces had changed during this period due to the instruction given by the US military advisory group (MAG) even though the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF)had followed the tradition of the former military. For instance, the Ground Force took the close form of field operation as an institution, including its central organization. In other words, the General Staff Office consisted horizontally of 5 departments that corresponded to its functions, such as human resources and information. Vertically, it also had several sections, such as the weapons section and so forth. These were specific services while the others were more general. However, it seems that the Maritime SDF followed more in the tradition of the Imperial Navy in its structure and thought because the Seventh Fleet was located in at a distance, and the headquarters of the American Navy in Japan was not so large. On the other hand, since the American Air Force in Japan looked exactly like the Air SDF, in operation, the Air SDF began to take the structure of its American counterpart. Therefore, each Force had started to build itself up during the period around 1956. However, I don't think that there was any consistent and common structure, objective, and function for the Ground, Maritime, and Air SDFs in Japan.
Murata: What was the function and organization of the Internal Bureau? Was it still very small in size?
Nishihiro: Yes, it was small like it is now. The difference between the past and the present Internal Bureau is the people who worked there. Around the time I started, there was no one who had built up his/her career for long at the Bureau. In addition, there was no established procedure for recruiting and assigning people. At present there are established rules as to how many and what kind of people are wanted from other central agencies and are to be assigned to the Bureau. Thus, people now know how things will take place and have more job security. At the same time, they do not hold any ambition and enthusiasm to govern when they join the Bureau. In the old days, however, people joined without any idea what they would do and how their careers would work out and it was ambiguous, indeed. For these reasons, officers at the time possessed strong personalities and held enthusiasm about their work. It was often said that the Bureau was very oppressive and, frequently, had conflicts with those in uniform.
Murata: Our main focus in this interview is the 1970s, but it will be very kind if you could also speak about impressive and influential events in Japanese defense policy or in US-Japan Security Relations based on your experiences throughout the 1960s as a background for the 70s.
Nishihiro: In the 1960s, or until soon after I joined the Defense Agency in the 1950s, the Ministry of Finance and the Defense Agency planned the budget proposal. However, the US was not satisfied with the proposal and suggested a higher amount so we had more money than we actually needed, and we had a hard time finding ways to spend it. Often, we were able to save up some money for the following year. In fact, our situation was such that we sometimes could not even produce a budget request because we did not know what we should purchase and in what amount. The Defense Agency was asked to adopt the American budgetary system which had a fixed budgetary category and automatically estimated the budget for the following year based on the proportion of the fixed years of certain durable items like tanks and cannons. Tanks and canons were categorized under the category KO and took the form of a renewal expenses. However, SDF had just received most of its military equipment, so it did not have many items that were out of their operational lifetime. Consequently, some money was unused and carried over at the Agency since we did not employ an authorizational budget system like in the United states. Therefore, because the Defense Agency was forced to adopt the American budgetary system that did not fit in with the Japanese system, there were many years when balances were carried over.
Tanaka: Until when did it continue?
Nishihiro: I think it probably continued until 1956. I think the Agency changed the budgetary system to a great extent in 1957 when Mr. Izawa, the accountant general, came to join the Agency and made a great change to the system. If you look at the written estimate of, I think, 1957, you will see that the budget of that year cut into that of the previous year and had a slight decrease from the year before. Like I mentioned before, a lot of funds got saved up from the previous years. The fact that only a few headings were set up for the budget also contributed to its excess. For example, the expenditure of machine parts included not only the purchase of equipment, but also expenses for R&D. Hence, staff officers allocated the unused fund to the research department for technical expenses. Thus, the technological research headquarters received excessive funding, ten times greater than planned, and carried it over. Strange things like this occurred from about the late 1940s to the late 1950s. Then, in 1957, we introduced the state liability system which was like the contract power system in the United States.
Tanaka: Wasn't there anything like that before?
Nishihiro: No, I don't think so. We introduced it to a great extent and it helped to rearrange and cut the budget. Similarly, we had done many things such as setting regulations in many areas and creating manuals for various kind of jobs during the period from the 1950s to the early 1960s. Also, we gave instructions, like agency orders, regarding the execution of the budget. Moreover, we had conducted business contracts and assembled the entire budget compilation for defense capability adjustment, as well as providing guidelines for the processing of the plan. When I became the director of my section in later years and saw strange reports, I asked the person who gave the reports why we needed these things. He replied that it was written in the instructions, but I lectured him that the instructions were made a long time ago and such an obsolete thing should have been changed. Anyway, it had been like that for some time, I think.
There was another influential event in 1961 when the 2nd Defense Plan was established. There was the 1st Defense Plan that accomplished little, but the 2nd Plan determined specific objectives for the organization and arrangement of the defense forces. In other words, it confined the scope of Japanese defense forces to conventional forces. In addition, the organization of this force planned for regional conflict. Conceptually, I think it was all fairly new. In the following years, the definition of regional conflict was reexamined during the transition to the 3rd Defense Plan. The meaning of regional conflict was extended in that regional conflict on a global scale would embrace the entire territory of Japan. However, it disregarded WWII in its simulation, which had largely determined the national defense force in Japan. Of course, the Basic Principles for the National Defense were set up simultaneously. It was, I think, very crucial that both were established at the same time.
Speaking of that event in US-Japan relations, I don't think there were any vital relations between the two countries at the time. The only one I can think of was the Ikeda-Robertson Talks. Mr. Ikeda and Mr. Miyazawa were the two main people who dealt with demands from the American side. They brought forth these proposals that were actually created by a naval officer who died recently. This idea entirely cut off the support unit, which was part of the American proposal for the Japanese defense force establishment, by reasoning that Japan would only involve itself with national defense on Japanese territory. For instance, it eliminated the creation of transport, supply, and the other support units for an army division and mostly focused on operational units that could be offset by civilian support in Japan. Thus, the Japanese proposal reduced the number of soldiers in an army division from 17,800 to 10,000. In this way the proposal cut the number and suggested the formation of an "Eighteen-Thousand Men System." Japan persuaded the American side by saying that American aims could be accomplished within the scale of this system and thus concluded the Ikeda-Robertson talks. Therefore, the Defense Agency, in the course of the 1960s, tried to attain the goal of the 18,000 Men System that was produced during these talks. At the same time, many American forces withdrew from Japan during the period, especially the Army. Along with this withdrawal, the Japanese government's share of the expense for the American forces in Japan was decreased. Part of the amount was used for defense expenditures in the SDF, and the rest of it was received by Ministry of Finance to reduce Japan's financial burden. In the other words, the Ministry of Finance constantly reduced the surplus by spending it on the SDF adjustment, and it tried to make some room for other governmental spending.
Tanaka: Were there any countries that were perceived as threats to Japanese security when the 2nd Plan was formulated?
Nishihiro: Yes, there were. We mainly focused on the Soviet Union because we did not see any threat from China or North Korea because of their lack of power projection capability.
Tanaka: But, did the Soviet Union have significant naval force?
Nishihiro: No, they did not have a big navy, but their air force and other forces were large. At first, we planned to defend by ourselves. Within the framework of the 1st Defense Plan, which I mentioned a little earlier, we considered a military consisting of about 2,000 aircraft, 7 aircraft carriers, and so on, as part of the rearmament plan. That changed since the 2nd Plan, but we initially tried to defend ourselves within Japanese territory.
Tanaka: Did the nuclear test in China create a perception of a Chinese threat?
Nishihiro: I don't think China has ever become a direct target of the Japanese force for any period to this point, due to our analysis that they don't have enough naval capability.
Tanaka: So, did China's development of nuclear capability have anything to do with the regional conflict that we had in simulation for the 2nd Plan?
Nishihiro: Yes, we limited our military within the scale of the conventional force. The US military was supposed to take care of the nuclear threat.
Tanaka: I remember that there were many arguments over the China threat in periodicals, however.
Nishihiro: I don't think any of it reflected the defense adjustment.
Tanaka: Does that mean that Japan didn't have to consider that threat in the Defense Agency since China didn't have naval capability?
Nishihiro: Yes, that's not considered to be a direct military threat. Again, the United States covers Japan with the nuclear defense and, in addition, we only thought of a conventional defense against the threat of the nuclear weapon.
Murata: Speaking of the story about the gradual withdrawal of the American force, the United States declared the Nixon Doctrine in 1969 and started to maintain that Asian countries should defend themselves through the establishment of conventional forces. Moreover, there was the fact that the US actually withdrew one of its infantry divisions from South Korea in 1971. Also, it pulled out of Vietnam. How did you perceive the world circumstances in which the Nixon administration reduced its forces in Asia at the time?
Nishihiro: The Defense Agency felt crisis the most when, in the 1970s.... I want to add a little to the facts concerning the 1960s. That is, the decade of the 1960s showed the rapid increase of the Ground SDF in response to the reduction of the American army from Japan. Rather than trying to make preparations for an external threat, it was intended for the maintenance of the public peace with the additional consideration of the protection of the American force in Japan. It was, in essence, to protect the US naval bases and its military equipment. Thus, the Air SDF enhanced its radar sites as its personnel were trained. The Self-Defense Forces emphasized their role as police over that of defenders against an invasion or territorial disturbances along with the other roles that America played. This attitude lasted from the 1960s to the first half of the 1970s.
At the time of the Nixon Doctrine, the Agency began implementing the Third Defense Plan. Since we already had the Third Plan in our hand, we did not do anything new. The main theme of the Third Defense Plan was to make preparations for the possible situation in which American troops, such as the Air Force, left or were reduced in Japan. Japan was to build some bases and secure the relatively safe areas at sea and be prepared for the possible return of US troops in the event of a disturbance or crisis in the Far East. The enhancement of the Maritime Forces became a major focus in order to protect the sea area around Japan and thus keep enemy submarines away from the coast. The other area of focus was to establish missiles, such as the Nike and the Fork, to defend cities and critical American and Japanese bases.
Tanaka: Many researchers who are studying diplomatic history pay much attention to the Nixon Doctrine and the Sato-Nixon Joint Communiqué which contained the South Korea-Taiwan Clauses. It was exchanged at the time of the return of Okinawa and it stated that the security of South Korea was essential for the security of Japan, and so forth. How much were you involved in the formulation of these documents and the SDF adjustment?
Nishihiro: As a matter of fact, the issue of South Korea was already almost decided when the return of Okinawa was announced. It is much like the secret story. First of all, Mr. Wakaizumi had worked on the matter in the existing committee from a long time before. A major issue was the problem of prior consultation. In other words, Japan had the problem of deciding whether to say yes or no provided the given conditions or demands regarding prior consultation. Such preparation was done mainly in the case of the issue of Korea. There were various kinds of possible conditions that we needed to simulate, such as an invasion by guerrilla bands, a full-scale invasion, etc.... We classified these into categories and found the appropriate response to each condition. This was very critical when the US returned Okinawa. We did the research in a very closed and secret environment. We did not directly inform the US of the results of the research, but we did inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I don't know if they gave the information to the US, but I would assume that they did.
Tanaka: Didn't the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do things like that at the time?
Nishihiro: Of course, the Bureau of North America (Hokubei Kyoku) was doing it, but the person who received our files directly was a defense councilor in charge of international affairs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Murata: It was long before when the Three-Arrow Plan (Mitsuya Keikaku) was exposed to the public, wasn't it?
Nishihiro: It was long beforehand. It may be a little afterwards when it was revealed, but they had done it a long time previously. Very few people were involved with the tasks of classifying the different scenarios regarding North Korea and making proposals for possible responses to each scenario considered in prior consultation. In the Internal Bureau, I was the only responsible officer, and we just asked for permission from the director of defense policy. Only about ten people were involved, I think.
Tanaka: So this information was all passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Did the Prime Minister know about it?
Nishihiro: I don't know. What we were doing in the Defense Agency was like the black and white picture. We, including the Minister, vice-Minister, other senior officials, held meetings every day to review the proposals prepared initially by Defense Section and summarize the observations regarding the return of Okinawa. All of these were discussed openly. What we were doing in secret, as I described before, was the black portion of it. When we announced the proposals one day, senior officials were very afraid and asked us to pretend that we were not doing this any more. The councilor in charge of international affairs and I had done things, but we could not obtain permission to make it official. I think the councilor brought it up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in secret.
Tanaka: Were there many cases in which the answer came back yes?
Nishihiro: There were, of course, yes and no answers. That's why I think that it is wrong to say that Japan cannot respond to the situations like the Gulf War and nuclear issues. There are situations in which both yes and no are proper answers. If the US requested a certain direct action to be taken by Japan, there are cases that Japan would say yes. For instance, if the situation was similar to the scenario of a full-scale invasion by North Korea, Japan would definitely say yes. Our position is such that if we said yes to the prior consultation, we would be ready to give an Order for Defense Action at the time. If we said yes, there most likely would be a retaliatory strike. Therefore, we should assign an order for defense at the same time when we say yes after a consultation. Our proposals were formulated on the assumption that Japan would give such an order regardless of whether it was directly involved. Thus, this had nothing to do with the right of collective defense. What the Defense Agency and SDF could do was expand upon the order for mobilization of SDF.
Tanaka: At the time, there was the councilor for international affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thinking of the Gulf War, though, what did you think about the points of view in the Cabinet at the time?
Nishihiro: Let me see... I would consult with the Cabinet in order to make laws and ordinances. The Bureau would take the same position as the prime minister and would defend his position even if it did not seem reasonable at the time. I think that's true even now.
Tanaka: After a while, Mr. Nakasone became the Minister in 1970. Was it a meaningful change to have Mr. Nakasone at the Defense Agency?
Nishihiro: I don't think so. He liked giving a performance. He often talked about the reduction and adjustment of US military bases. Thus, a certain division of the Defense Agency took his opinion and investigated the possibility of it. Mr. Nakamura, the ex-director of the fifth section of the Joint Chiefs Council (JCC) and later chief of staff of the naval SDF division, and I started to examine the possibility of the reduction in a way that it would make bases such as in Misawa more like an emergency station (Yuji Churyu)] for the American military. We eventually opposed the unreasonable reduction of the American bases at the vice-ministerial, councilor, and chief staff meeting. If we made it an emergency, it would have meant that Japan's defense shield would be weakened, thus necessitating the re-stationing of the American force very difficult. It seemed that re-stationing the troops might even worsen an acute situation in case of an emergency. In addition, if we were to make it like that, we would need to do periodic military training simulating such deployment. Since that would require more money than simply allowing the permanent stationing of the US force, I argued against the idea of such a reduction, and Mr. Nakamura supported me. Nevertheless, the vice-ministers and the others pointed out that our opinion would oppose to the minister's intention to implement this plan. Therefore, we explained ourselves directly to Minister Nakasone at the meeting. He said that he was not going to support a reduction of US bases if it meant diminishing the meaning of the Japanese-American Security Treaty and giving up on the reduction plan. Instead, we just wanted to have the unused lands in the American bases back, a reduction in the function and power of the American force.
The next thing he wanted to do was to formulate a framework for a new defense force adjustment, since it was about time to make the next Defense Plan. Nakasone did not like the very idea of the 4th Defense Plan since it did no more than follow precedent and would not make him distinct. He wanted to make a new defense policy. You see, he first wanted to create a new foundation for it, but was unable to do so. We then started to produce the new adjustment plan for the defense forces. In fact, I did about half of the task myself, and I drafted the National Defense Program Outline (NDPO). While I was writing the details, suddenly Mr. Nakasone decided to change his position due to the reshuffling of the Cabinet. He naturally thought that should go back. He was in a hurry because there was no attached table(bepyo), that would indicate the adjusted proposal for the requests from each SDF division, to announce to the public. There were, however, original requests from each section. He put these together and announced it. The scale of it was very large, of course, because the original requests were also large. No one read the main text, actually, but everybody was surprised at the scale of the force outlined in the plan, and the mass media started to criticize the plan and Mr. Nakasone. Mr. Nakasone stayed in his position and continued to be criticized for a while and then became a chairman of the Policy Research Council a few months later. Then, because of the bad reputation of Nakasone's New Defense Policy, the next Minister replaced the Third Defense Plan with the Fourth, which was almost identical to the Third Plan. The Fourth Plan was different from the Third Plan only in the number of items that it planned to purchase. It was the opposite extreme from what Nakasone had attempted. Since Mr. Nakasone received tremendous criticism for the New Plan, the next Minister was scared to make any changes in the former plan at all. What Mr. Nakasone originally intended to introduce in place of the 4th Defense Plan was the NDPO that is used now, in the 5th Defense Plan. I actually wrote it. I composed it even though it was a little obsolete after the fifth year. The period of détente was just around the corner when Mr. Nakasone was in the Defense Agency. We did not have much room to spend because of the détente and the Japanese recession. Thus, it was really an inappropriate period to introduce the 5th Plan. The person who was working on the draft gave up on it since it would have been miserable to complete it under the circumstances. At the last moment, I had the role of writing it. I had been doing nothing about it and waiting to pass it through with something different from the five-year plan. I waited until people including the opposition asked me to do something about it and then I eventually turned in the one that I had made at the time of the 4th Plan and had added some corrections to. It was a bit out of date for the period, to tell the truth, since it had been created five years earlier.
Tanaka: Yes, in the year 1976, internationally speaking, the US....
Nishihiro: It was when the period of détente had ended.
Tanaka: I want to go back a little. The first White Paper on Defense was issued when Mr. Nakasone was at the Defense Agency. Was it issued with Mr. Nakasone's strong support?
Nishihiro: Yes, it was issued at his request because he wanted to have something tangible about the subject.
Tanaka: But, it was not followed by the second....?
Nishihiro: We had been preparing for the White Paper for a long while. People at the Agency, in fact, did not like to be attacked on this subject by the opposition parties in the National Diet. In addition, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) knew that the defense issue was not going to bear any fruit because LDP did not share any of the opposition parties' views. The ideology on which the opposition parties were based, in fact, was completely different from the LDP. It was just like we were killing time. It was the policy of the government, therefore, to avoid bringing defense policy to the surface as much as possible because it was fruitless to do. As a matter of fact, such proposals for the white paper were produced many times at the Agency but were not brought forward because it would have been a waste of time to publish it.. However, Mr. Nakasone wanted it done, so we made some corrections to the one we already had and gave it to him.
Tanaka: And, nobody tried to publish a defense white paper after Nakasone left?
Nishihiro: He was followed by relatively passive Ministers who did not want to take on such a large task. I believe it was issued again when Mr. Sakata was at the Agency.
Murata: So the second White Paper was published when Mr. Sakata was the Minister at the Agency?
Nishihiro: Yes, I was the director of the Public Relations Section when Mr. Sakata decided to publish one. He had a conviction that if we wanted to successfully argue about defense issues, we had to do various things like publishing the White Paper and having a round-table meetings. He placed emphasis more on the process than on the decision about the policy.
Tanaka: We often talk about the détente during the first half of the 1970s. I think that many were of the opinion that Japan was about the same distance both from China and Soviet Union and we did not want to get involved with both of them. How much were these opinions related to the Japan's defense policy?
Nishihiro: As a defense policy, we did not consider making enlarging the military by increasing our budget. It was when Mr. Sonoda was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, wasn't it? And Prime Minister Suzuki?
Tanaka: Mr. Sonoda was Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time of Prime Minister Fukuda. In 1978 Minister of Foreign Affairs Sonoda concluded the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty.
Nishihiro: Was he still at that position when Suzuki came to power?
Murata: No, Mr. Ito was there when Suzuki was the Prime Minister.
Nishihiro: Yes, I thought I remembered that Mr. Ito resigned. In short, Foreign Minister Sonoda, in fact, imitated the equidistant-distant diplomacy and attempted to propose in the Diet that Japan put equal distance between itself and the US, China, and Soviet Union. It was completely crazy. I think that some politicians tried to avoid clearly stating Japan was a member of the West for a long time. Also, arguments as to whether the US-Japan alliance included military matters was raised under the Suzuki Cabinet. As a result, the Foreign Minister resigned in protest. Thus, Mr. Sonoda was probably the Foreign Minister for a little period during the Suzuki Cabinet. When Mr. Sonoda resigned, the US mentioned that some war criminals from WWII remained in the government, thus undermining the US-Japan alliance. One of them was Mr. Suzuki.
Murata: I want to bring the story back a little. You mentioned about Mr. Kei Wakaizumi in the story of the Okinawa reversion. Mr. Wakaizumi wrote a biography last year. In the book, he referred to the secret agreement between President Nixon and Prime Minister Sato. The only people that knew of the alleged agreement were Kissinger, Wakaizumi, and the two heads of the governments. The agreement reportedly said that the Japanese prime minister would permit the US to bring nuclear weapons into Japan in a emergency situation although the American military would eliminate its nuclear weapons in Okinawa when the island reverted to Japanese rule. The agreement was supposedly concealed from the Foreign Minister at the time. He wrote in his memoirs that Kissinger and he worked out the details for quite a while. Did you perceive such activity or recognize any of this in your position at the Defense Agency?
Nishihiro: I knew that Mr. Wakaizumi and Mr. Sato worked together and heard that they were dealing with the nuclear issues, although I did not touch on the details. On the other hand, I know the details about the publicized nuclear issues papers, because we composed them. As you know, the SSNs were removed. Because the number of missiles loaded in submarines increased gradually, we considered that the MSB had became obsolete and worthless. Thus, we judged that the MSB missiles were not going to be installed in Okinawa or the other bases. They were Nike-Hercules missiles which had nuclear capability while ours were non-nuclear NikeJs After that, we were concerned to some extent about whether these were effective, and satisfactory for our defense purpose. However, the US said it was OK and, in reality, we had already installed the systems in the American bases in Japan. Further, we faced problems regarding the inability to load some of the revised missiles. We realized that even if the US had brought such missiles in, they could not have used them for field battles because Nike was not as mobile as we had previously thought. There might possibly be missiles on airplanes or on naval vessels, but it was improbable that the US naval vessels would drop the weapons off during their stay at Japanese ports. There was no effective nuclear facility for defense purposes in Japan at the stage the MSB were removed.
Murata: Speaking of the fact that it might be possible to have missiles loaded in airplanes, the former ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer, in the 1980s, had an interview with Mr. Komori and mentioned that differences exist between the US and Japan over the concept of "introduction" of nuclear weapons. He said that if the US did not unload the nuclear weapons from the nuclear-loaded naval vessels in Japan the US did not consider it as an "introduction". This, of course, caused quite a stir in Japan. Did the Defense Agency share the same view about this matter?
Nishihiro: I thought that this was common sense. For instance, there is no way that we could have identified vessels of the Soviet Union that passed through the straits near Japan. We could not inspect them in any way. That's no different than the case with US ships. Thus, I was not very comfortable with the refusal of nuclear weapons entry in the "three non-nuclear principles" because they were so vague. It was totally beyond our capacity to check each vessel that entered Japan.
Tanaka: Mass media responded furiously to the comment by Reischauer in the 80s. What did the government think of it? It seemed to just leave the ambiguity of the principles alone without clarifying their meaning.
Nishihiro: In short, we distinguished between the fact that the US would not talk about the nuclear weapons and the fact that the US would inform us in prior consultation of any significant changes of equipment. We pushed the idea that the US would not bring nuclear weapons into Japan without telling us.
Tanaka: The ambiguity of this policy became clearer after the Reischauer comment. The atmosphere of the public, at least, seemed to be that Japan's three non-nuclear principles should prohibit even trans-shipment of nuclear weapons.
Nishihiro: But, the governmental response to it did not change at all, did it?
Murata: You mentioned that you understood the meaning of "introduction" like that. Was it common among officials at the Defense Agency to believe that the word "introduction" in the three-principles did not include trans-shipment?
Nishihiro: I think it made sense from a military perspective. After all, I thought that it was militarily impossible for any nuclear weapons on ships and airplanes to be transferred from one to another while they were stopped at a Japanese port. And, in reality, no such transfers occurred.
Tanaka: But the government did not make that fact public, did it?
Nishihiro: You see, though, from the start, they assumed that there were no nuclear weapons on board....
Tanaka: So, did the government only say that it because it had not been informed otherwise, it did not believe that there had been any change?
Murata: I am very sorry, but I would like to bring the subject back to the latter half of the 1970s again. The Carter administration announced that all US troops in Korea would be withdrawn. I have heard that you strongly opposed this. Can you further explain this?
Nishihiro: When the prime minister went to the United States, Mr. Fukuda took a paper that we had produced without much corrections. I wrote the draft, and Mr. Sato (of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) made some revisions and gave it to Fukuda.
Murata: Was that because the US withdrawal from Korea involved the security of Japan....?
Nishihiro: It did raise some doubts about the continued American presence in all of Asia, not only Korea and Japan.
Murata: Were you a director of defense policy at the time?
Murata: President Carter maintained his position in the joint statement produced at the Fukuda-Carter summit meetings, while Prime Minister Fukuda expressed it as reduction rather than withdrawal. Did the Carter administration listen at all to the Japanese requests or opinions at that time.
Nishihiro: He made a public pledge to withdraw the troops, didn't he? That was part of the reason why he did not want to change the decision. In reality, though, I think he accepted our position because he never tried to move the troops. What I opposed was the removal of all ground forces from South Korea. Initially, he maintained that the air force was sufficient. In response, I strongly insisted that it was very important to place more immobile forces, like the army, rather than just the air force which could be easily moved. Moreover, I expressed that South Korea was strategically important to Japan, because it did seem that Carter did not fully understand that point. With the existence of both South Korea and Japan, we could maintain the command of the air in the area against the countries in the north with a proportion of 2 to 1. Conversely, I said it would be 1 to 2 if South Korea was annexed. In addition, it would be difficult to protect the Tsushima Channel without South Korea. I explained these strategic significance of South Korea in detail and, in the end, argued specifically against the troop withdrawal.
Murata: You said that you strongly opposed the removal of the Army. How did you feel about a mild reduction?
Nishihiro: In short, I felt that it was going to cause trouble if they were not going to maintain a symbolic, fixed force like the army.
Tanaka: It was well-recognized from the time of the presidential election that the US was planning to move out of the Korean Peninsula, wasn't it? Could we suppose that this knowledge led to thought that Japan had to tighten its relationship with the US during the period of time following the recognition of the principles of Japanese-American defense cooperation?
Nishihiro: Yes, that is how it was in the beginning. Before that, we thought that we only needed to deal with the Pentagon or CINPAC. We started to realize, though, that things were not going be the same. I believe that the Vice President visited Japan soon after the establishment of the Carter administration, didn't he? The paper I spoke of was written for that visit.
Tanaka: The paper was about the significance of the Korean Peninsula, wasn't it? Wasn't it related to the process that led directly to the "Guidelines"?
Nishihiro: No, it had a different intention. We started with an administrative official or secretary level conference between Japan and the US. Then , we had the Japan-US Conference where the Minister of the Defense Agency, the Foreign Minister, the Commander of the American force in Japan, and Ambassador met. However, there was no meeting for the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Foreign Minister, and Minister of the Defense Agency, so we set one up. In fact, it turned out to be very fruitful. We emphasized two purposes: information exchange and operational research. One of the problems for the Guidelines was that no specific instructions regarding the Japan-US Joint Operation were agreed upon in them. Consequently, we decided to produce some guiding principles. This was during the time of Secretary Maruyama, while I was the director of defense policy. Mr. Maruyama himself was not sure whether we would succeed, but we tried to make it through somehow and the Guidelines were the result of the one-year effort. The bad part was that it separated the fifth clause from the sixth. What this really attempted to do was to separate the crisis in Japan (in the fifth Clause ) and Korea (in the sixth), making the Minister of Foreign Affairs become the center of the operation. The troops would not yet be given any mobilization order for defense since the authority of such response, according to the sixth Clause, was in the hands of the government. I didn't know whether such situation could occur, but I didn't think so. The Minister of Foreign Affairs surely wouldn't do such things, but the Clauses are still there today. The US often points this out especially by saying that in light of the fact that Japan did not do anything quickly after the Gulf War, how will it respond to a Korean Peninsula crisis. This also raised the issue of sanctions regarding nuclear proliferation in Korea. China, South Korea, and Japan were passive to some degree, and speculation as to whether these countries would do anything was raised due to the fact that there had been no revisions of the sixth Clause. I personally think that the US already understood our true intentions to some extent by the time of the Okinawa reversion.
Tanaka: Based on this assumption about the Guidelines at the time of reversion, would the sixth Clause have led to the mobilization of SDF in case of a Korean Peninsula crisis?
Nishihiro: So, we would only have made it to the fifth Clause without prior consultation.
Tanaka: Are you saying that the reason for Japan's passive attitude toward military affairs in foreign countries can be attributed to the separation of the sixth and fifth Clauses, consequently dividing the authority between the Defense Agency and Minister of Foreign Affairs?
Nishihiro: I think so.
Tanaka: Would it have become a slightly different situation if the Defense Agency had examined the possibility of concentrating its full authority there?
Nishihiro: After all, the problem was that the sixth Clause included all kind of crises possible in the Korean Peninsula.
Murata: I believe that the small committee, established under the Guidelines, submitted the research report to the Prime Minister later. Wasn't it taken seriously?
Nishihiro: I don't think so. It is still important, but it should not be very open. In short, it has become closer to an operation plan. In fact, I think that the committee should do more study on various cases. I recommended to the US that the Guidelines themselves be modified accordingly since they mainly focus on the Soviet Union. The threats looked at by the Guidelines should be more varied. For example, I think that it would be good to make some categorized guidelines: one for operation, one for back-up support, and one for technological cooperation.
Tanaka: I am now going to return to the 1960s and 70s again. You mentioned the crisis in the Korean Peninsula in the South Korea-Taiwan Clauses at the Sato-Nixon Talk. Did you consider the possibility of a crisis in Taiwan?
Nishihiro: As I mentioned earlier, the premise was that if the US stayed in Okinawa and had a close relationship with Taiwan, a crisis would not happen. We could not imagine that China would do anything to Taiwan in that case. Thus, until the situation in the Korean Peninsula cleared up, we didn't want to remove or reduce the military presence, including the Navy, on the American bases in Okinawa. The US and Japan seemed to agree on this matter. In addition, speaking of the strategic importance of the Seventh Fleet, we definitely felt that we needed it to be stationed in Okinawa until the situation between Russia and China became a bit more predictable. It would have caused panic in Taiwan if there had been advances made by China toward Taiwan. Therefore, it wasn't rational to move forces from Yokosuka and the other bases for a considerable period of time.
Tanaka: So, historically speaking, China did not have the military capability to organize any military action toward Taiwan while the American force was in Okinawa. Is that what you are saying?
Nishihiro: Yes, as long as the US was in Okinawa.
Tanaka: I believe you are asked this question often, but I want to take this opportunity to ask you about the story of the 1 % Ceiling. This number was estimated by, I believe, the "Boei o Kangaeru Kai" (Society to Think about Defense Issues] that often discussed the 1% defense budget ceiling.
Nishihiro: No, it was not like that, it actually came from the Defense Agency. We quit the Five-Year Plan and switched it to NDPO. Also, we wrote the direction and the goal of the new plan but not the period of time necessary to attain that goal. I often said that it may take ten years, that it would be ten years plus a few including the completion. We thought that it would take ten years to actually start it. Then, the next question would be how much time we needed to complete it. Since it was not the Five-Year Plan, we did not have a specific number of years for it, but without setting some limits, it was possible that it would be put off for a long time into the future and that no one would know when it would be finished. Thus, decided to create a financial range which would set the pace. We suggested it to be around 1% of GDP , because with that level of funding, the goal could be accomplished in ten years, or, at least, it would take a few more than ten years from the time that we actually began to work on it. Thus, we set a 1% funding range for the execution of the plan. However, Mr. Ohira, as a Minister of Finance, wanted it to be strictly less than 1% and eventually it was fixed at less than 1% after a series of negotiations. We accepted that level because the 1% ceiling could be the essentially the same as the 1% range.
Tanaka: Was the word "prospective" used in the agreement?
Nishihiro: Yes, it included the word "prospective" but also the words "for the present."
Tanaka: When I was talking with Prof. Kosaka, he thought that it actually was "degree" (of the amount of spending.) that must be "less than" 1%. He was wondering when it became that way.
Nishihiro: No, it was not like that at all.
Tanaka: So, it was actually "less than" ( 1%) from the outset in the Agency with regard to the discussion with the Minister of Finance....?
Nishihiro: I think the document actually says so. It says something like, "the spending will not reach one one hundredth....." It was a decision that was made separate from the NDPO.
Murata: So, does it mean that "less than" was the Finance Minister Ohira's desire and was agreed to?
Nishihiro: Yes, because Mr. Sakata often told us about it. Consequently, the actual amount of funding tended to be very volatile according to the fluctuation of the GNP as counted it on the budget base. Sometimes, it would exceed the ceiling, so I told him that it was going to be bothersome.
Murata: Were you still the director of defense policy at this time?
Murata: And, you were the director of the public relations section before you became the director of defense policy?
Nishihiro: Yes, I did spend three years in each position.
Murata: How many directorships do most people receive?
Nishihiro: Regularly, it is going to be around five to seven. I was one of the fewest because I only did three.
Tanaka: Here it is. It (the document regarding the 1% Ceiling) says that it foresees the amount which does not exceed one one-hundredth of GNP. That means that it cannot go beyond it, doesn't it?
Nishihiro: The opposition parties and others forget that it also says, "for the present." Thus, it is not like the 1% Ceiling Clause will never be revised.
Tanaka: It says that here in the document, doesn't it?
Nishihiro: I do think that people in the Defense Agency have been a little lazy. They should have reexamined the 1% Ceiling as to whether 1% would be enough or not for the period whenever they made the next Five-Year Plan. Since they have left it as it was for quite a while, it sounds like a fixed requirement.