Shinichiro Asao Oral History Interview

Conducted by Koji Murata

October 3, 1996

Murata: Let me first clarify that your position from January of 1980 was the Director General of the North American Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs...

Asao: I think I can say from the first of January, 1980. I was in that position from the beginning of 1980 until the middle July, 1982.

Murata: You were the Director General of the North American Bureau until July, 1982, after which you became the Councillor of the Ministerial Secretariat. (Daijin Kanbo no Shingikan).

Asao: I was doing work we called "inspection."

Murata: The period from 1980 to 1982 interests us the most. Specifically, I would like to ask you about the Guidelines which were developed in 1978. About a month ago, Asahi newspaper had a special article on the Guidelines and referred to your talk. I believe it was period from 1980 to 1982 that the Guidelines were instituted and at that time an intensive study was done on Japan contingency. Did you, as the Director General of the North American Bureau, concern yourself with the study on the Japan contingency?

Asao: I was not directly involved. I suppose the Director of Security Division (of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) of that time was mainly in charge. Also, Mr. Kuriyama, who was the Councillor of the North American Bureau and later became the Ambassador to the United States, and his successor, Ambassador Matsuda, were involved.

Murata: My impression on the research done on the Japan contingency is that although the study done on Article V was very advanced, between the Japanese Defense Agency and the American component, the study done on Article VI has not progressed at all. Asahi's article explained the result by quoting you as saying that "there might have been many differences between the policies of the Defense Agency and that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moreover, there were differences between the policies of Defense Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and those of the other Ministries, such as the Ministry of Transportation." Was the biggest reason due to the difficulty of negotiating with the other Ministries, including the Ministry of Transportation?

Asao: At least, when I was there, it was not that progressed to negotiations with other Ministries. I mean, although the Defense Agency and the MOFA were studying the problems of the contingency together, focusing only on contingency, it turned out that Article V was the problem. Moreover, considering the movement of the Self-Defense Forces, or the US military, the Ministry of Transportation had to be involved. Therefore, it was impossible to open the meetings with all the related Ministries from the beginning. At the same time, it was also considered impossible because the Ministry of Transportation and its related offices were not positive about the study on the Contingency.

Murata: Was it because the Ministry of Transportation had no interest in the issue, or someone told me this, that the Ministries like Transportation and Posts & Telecommunications have small unions, and therefore are sensitive towards those political issues such a studying contingencies. What do you think of the Ministry of Transportation's passiveness?

Asao: I think it was not only about the relationship with the unions, but also because they basically did not want to deal with problems which had something to do with the Constitution or military issues.

Murata: Besides the Ministry of Transportation, what other Ministries were thought to concern themselves with the meeting?

Asao: Even the Ministry of Transportation was not concretely involved. As such, other than the Ministry of Transportation, I think the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications was involved, and the Ministry of Health & Welfare was because of the issues of the hospitals. Also, the Ministry of Home Affairs was supposed to be involved due to their relation to local-government bodies, but the whole thing was not that advanced yet.

Murata: Going back to Asahi's special article, they had the detailed information on the study of the Japan contingency. I believe the source of the article was the American side, but it talked about the code-number 5051, which was the research done on the Japan contingency. The main concepts of 5051 was if the first wave of the USSR's Far East Air Force would come from three directions, including Setonai, then within a week, as the second wave came, about two divisions would arrive by ship. To confront them, US military would come to support in about two weeks. 5051 concludes that these 2 weeks until the US military arrives, Japan has to deal with the attacker all by herself. The Asahi's article also mentioned the code-number 5052, which is about the Korea contingency. The article said that even though people tried to start the research on Korea contingency, it never happened. According to your memory, do you think what Asahi's article was saying was mainly correct?

Asao: About your question, the Defense Agency was negotiating with the US military, and the MOFA was not informed of the details at all. And in fact, we had to go over there (Defense Agency) and ask about the situations. I think the people who knew the best about this was Ambassador Sato, who was also mentioned in the Asahi's article. He is now in Australia, but at that time, he was the Director of Security Division. Also, Mr. Tanba, who is now the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and was the successor of Mr. Sato. These two people are the best informed if you want to know about the negotiations period.

Murata: Do you mean you, as the Director General of the North American Bureau, were not directly involved and did not know the situation?

Asao: The whole talk remained among the level of Division Director, and did not come up to my level. We used to receive their briefings on the matter occasionally.

Murata: But about the study on the Japan contingency, according to the press reports, it was completed in 1981. Then, I believe, it must have been presented to the Prime Minister. If that's the case, did you see it when it was completed?

Asao: I am not so sure about that. I don't remember what was presented to the Prime Minister, but I suppose there was no problem with the Article VI.

Murata: If you are talking about the Japan contingency, I believe you mean Article V.

Asao: Article V, yes. About Article V, I remember there was something that happened. I think it was the Defense Agency who sent it to the Prime Minister.

Murata: But the MOFA saw the completed version, too.

Asao: We should have seen Article V. But somehow I don't really remember.

Murata: But you think you saw it.

Asao: I must have. Naturally. But there was a line between what could be known between the Defense Agency and the MOFA. So, I am not sure how detailed we were informed.

Murata: This study on the Japan contingency was completed in 1981, and the new study on Far East contingency was said to start during 1982. According to the press reports, it was because the American side demanded it strongly. Do you think that is the correct understanding?

Asao: I think it was both (the American side and the MOFA desires). I mean, considering Japan's security, it was evident that it was impossible to cope only with Article V. Article VI had to be involved. I think, rather the MOFA itself had the feeling that they had to work on Article VI in order to deal with the relationship with the United States.

Murata: What about the Defense Agency?

Asao: In the Defense Agency, there was a consensus among the military officials that it was natural to consider that. I think that happened sometime during 1982. I mean, I left the position of Director General in the summer of 1982.

Murata: During that time, this is also according to the Asahi's article, it's reported that there was the movement to start the study on the Korea contingency, which was called the code-number 5052, but they could not start it officially. Do you remember that there was this movement to start the Korea contingency study?

Asao: Naturally we knew we had to deal with both the Article V And VI. We just decided to start with the Article V, but knew we had to work on Article VI eventually. We simply did not reach that point while I was the Director General.

Murata: I understand.

Asao: I think the people who know the situation around that time best are Mr. Sato and Mr. Tanba, as I mentioned earlier. I suppose Mr. Tanba was anonymous in the Asahi's article. Mr. Sato's name was on it though.

Murata: It is often said that originally the Article V Contingency and the Article VI Contingency were not divisable. It's unlikely, militarily, that only Japan would be attacked. If it had to happen, it would be the case when the Korea contingency got extended to Japan. I think that was what the American side was saying in the article. But how was it in the MOFA? Was there any feeling of recognition that Article V and Article VI were indivisable, but as a procedure, it had to be done separately?

Asao: Yes. Also, separating the question from whether the Article V was related to the Contingency or not, there was the fact that Japanese domestic law was inadequate in many senses. So we had the feeling that we had to fix it. For example, it might be funny to call them "civil airports," but if a US soldier got injured and had to be delivered by the helicopter to a "civil airport" owned by the local government, it is all up to that local government to decide whether the helicopter can land or not. In fact, in the spring of 1981, when US marines were having an exercise on the Japan Sea, there was a failure in landing and some pilots got injured. When the American side contacted the Akita Airport and asked if they could deliver the patients by helicopter there, the local government announced that the Akita Airport was a private airport and they did not want to let it be used for any military purpose. Separate from the issue of domestic law, there were problems with the relationships with the local governments, or with the Ministry of Transportation.

Murata: About that kind of problems, do you think it is safe to say that because of the study on the Article V Contingency, there has been a great improvement?

Asao: While I was there, I don't think there was any improvement. For example, when American VIPs came to Narita, Ambassador Mansfield tried to fly over to Narita Airport by US military helicopter because he did not have enough time. However, when he requested, the Ministry of Transportation first said "no." It was because it's agreed that the Narita Airport will not be used militarily. In this case, we pushed them by saying we would be in trouble otherwise, and after all, Mr. Mansfield could fly to the Narita Airport for the first time. However, this was special case and this happened in 1981.

Murata: Other than the Guidelines, I would like to ask you about the MOFA in those days. I believe, it was 1979 when the Security Policy Planning Committee (Anzen Hoshou Seisaku Kikaku Iinkai?) was established within the MOFA, where each section's councilors had the leading roles in examining such topics as the strategical relationship between the USSR and the United States, East-West relations and so on. What started this committee?

Asao: Even though I worked away from the North American Bureau, I attended that meeting once or twice for some occasions. I think the reason why this committee started was because we realized that in order to think about the international situations and security issues, we had to examine these issues as one united organization, not as individual sections of the MOFA. The Deputy Vice-Minister at that time, Mr. Takashima I believe, proposed that this committee consist of the councilors from the various sections. That's how it started. At the time we did not even let it be known outside that this kind of committee existed. Gradually, the existence of the committee became known outside, but we kept what we discussed secret, and debated not only the Japan-US Security issues, but also a variety of topics such as the Middle East problems.

Murata: I might have a cynical way of thinking, but one scholar has said that after the Guidelines were established in 1978, the character of the Defense Agency somehow changed and that had something to do with the beginning of this committee. Usually, the Defense Agency had the character of being the managing organization of the Self-Defense Forces. However, gradually their relationship with the United States began to deepen and the Director General of the Defense Agency and some officials started to make comments which were further along than those prior at the Diet's reply. This scholar suggested that there were politics among the Ministries. The MOFA tried to keep its initiative in the Japan-US Security relationship by re-studying the security issues and the committee was one example of this trend. Do you have that kind of impression?

Asao: I don't, not really. The MOFA itself thought they had to think about the security issues as the one united organization, not as individual sections. As I mentioned earlier, we wanted to discuss a variety of issues freely such as the Middle East problems, not only the Japan-US relationship.

Murata: At the end of 1979, the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Should I believe this incident changed the MOFA's assessment of the international situation in a very significant way?

Asao: Yes, absolutely.

Murata: OK. Was there any concrete influence directly on MOFA's policy? I mean, a change which would have been reflected on the policy?

Asao: Probably, with this incident we began to realize the need to take a second look at the Japan-Russo, Japan-USSR relationship, and the need to study the Middle East problem within the MOFA itself. Rather, even before that incident, there was the case of the hostage problem in Iran. It was during the Carter administration, I think, in May 1980, Mr. Ohira went over to Washington, D.C. through Mexico to have a talk with President Carter. At that time, in his mind Prime Minister Ohira thought of the Iran hostage problem as a very important issue to the United States, and he was most concerned with what Japan could do for the situation. At the meeting, Mr. Ohira told the President Carter that a true friend would support his friend when he is in trouble. Later Mr. Ohira stated what he told Mr. Carter at their meeting might have gone too far. But, with his comment, President Carter's attitude changed drastically. The consensus was that Japan seriously concerned herself with the hostage situation. With this momentum, the talks between Mr. Ohira and the President Carter started and ended well.

Murata: However, about the hostage issue in Iran, later it turned out that one Japanese business firm was buying oil from Iran, and the American Secretary of State Vance commented that Japan was insensitive. Was that statement shocking to the MOFA?

Asao: Yes, well, of course. I think Foreign Minister Okita made such remarks in the news in Paris. That kind of comment was very shocking, especially after what happened.

Murata: Didn't the MOFA grasp the fact that one Japanese firm, I think it was Mitusi, was buying crude?

Asao: I think they knew about it to a certain degree. But what was really shocking was rather that such a comment was said by Mr. Okita at the meeting with Mr. Vance.

Murata: The fact that Mr. Vance said that?

Asao: Yes, that it was said by Mr. Vance.

Murata: But the situation was that Mr. Okita said Mr. Vance had said that.

Asao: Yes.

Murata: Mr. Vance himself did not make the comment about Japan being insensitive to the Media. It was Mr. Okita who said that Mr. Vance had said that. A person from the MOFA told me when I was interviewing him, that it was improper of Mr. Okita. Although it was undeniable that one country's Foreign Minister told Japan's Foreign Minister that Japan was insensitive, there was no need at all for Japanese Foreign Minister to talk of it to the media. It was Japan's shame and he did not have to go to public at all. Were there any criticisms like this among the officials in the MOFA?

Asao: Well, there was a feeling that he was not the kind of person to say such a thing publicly, and questions as to why would he say such a thing. Even before that, the United States government failed to rescue the hostages. Though it was the midnight, we had to call a news conference. At the news conference, since I did not say that attack was an American violation of the Iranian sovereignty, some journalists criticized me for not saying that.

Murata: In the MOFA, there were people who distrusted the Carter administration's way of acting....

Asao: Rather than distrust, it was more of the feeling that their way of acting itself was very rough mannered.

Murata: From 1980 to 1982 when you were the Director General of the North American Bureau, the Foreign Minister was Mr. Okita.

Asao: From Minister Okita then last to Minister Sonoda.

Murata: Was it Mr. Sonoda?

Asao: Oh, I am sorry. After Mr. Okita, Mr. Ito may have succeeded.

Murata: Yes, Mr. Masayoshi Ito.

Asao: After Mr. Ito, then Mr. Sonoda.

Murata: So you served for Minister Ito, too.

Asao: Yes.

Murata: Mr. Sonoda was Foreign Minister during the Fukuda administration, wasn't he? While he was the Foreign Minister, the biggest issue was the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China. After Minister Sonoda, it was Minister Okita, and then Minister Ito. Mr. Okita was an economist himself, not a Diet member. Both Mr. Ito and Mr. Sonoda were members of the Diet and were politicians. Mr. Sonoda was, of course, partisan and Mr. Ito was a bureaucrat. Was there any big difference in style between those two and Minister Okita?

Asao: Though Mr. Okita was economist, he could seize the essence of the matter very well. Mr. Ito was a studious man. He himself used to say he was not perfect. However, when the Diet convened, we usually had a study meeting. We studied about what kind of questions were going to be asked at the Budget committee or the Foreign Affairs Committee, and then studied how to answer these questions. Then Mr. Ito came to the study meetings after spending the night before reading all the materials prepared by the foreign service employees. Because he had read all of them in advance, he would ask very detailed questions at the meetings. When he got a satisfactory understanding, he would write down what was written in his materials onto the cards so that he could be prepared for the Diet's reply. I mean, he rewrote them. After Mr. Ito, Mr. Sonoda succeeded.

Murata: After Ito, Mr. Sonoda, again?

Asao: Yes. When Mr. Sonoda was first Foreign Minister I was not serving. His second time, his style was very different. He has already known the diplomacy very well from the first experience. His study meeting was conducted in a very different way from that of Mr. Ito.

Murata: What about Mr. Okita? Since he was not the Diet Member, on one hand he did not have the political strength which both Mr. Sonoda and Mr. Ito had, but on the other hand, he did not have to worry about the next election and could be free in a way. In this sense did you think Mr. Okita stood out from the other Ministers?

Asao: Not really.

Murata: He was very close to the Prime Minister Ohira though.

Asao: Mr. Ito was also very close to Mr. Ohira.

Murata: When it comes to Mr. Ito, he resigned after Prime Minister Suzuki went to the United States and made that Alliance speech. When this speech about the Alliance was made, you were the Director General of the North American Bureau. What was the truth behind that speech? I mean, did the Prime Minister speak what was prepared, but there was just a miscommunication with the Foreign Minister?

Asao: It's a long story. Going back to the period from March 1981 to the summer of the same year, there were many incidents related to the US-Japan relationship. First, in the Sea of Japan, an American naval ship cut the longline of a Japanese fishing boat. Then, in another incident, the Japanese cargo-boat Nisshomaru was sunk by the American strategic submarine George Washington, and the Nisshomaru's captain and the chief engineer were killed. The third incident was the speech of Reischauer that there was the carrying of the nuclear weapons by US ships into Japanese ports. Lastly, there came the problem of this Alliance.

It is customary that after every summit conference a joint statement was issued. In this joint statement there was paragraph 8, which was related to Japan-US Security. There were two sides of this paragraph 8. One of them was whether it had the military aspect, and the other side was about the Alliance. About the Alliance problem, there was the question that "alliance" had the character of military too strongly. There was the discussion that the word "alliance" was being used for the first time. The MOFA's argument was that it had been already used when Mr. Ohira was the Prime Minister. Of course there was this military aspect, but it was within the extent of the Constitution. Japan's actions would be based on the Treaty and Agreement under Article VI of the treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America, regarding Facilities and Areas and the Status of United States Armed Forces in Japan. The reason why there was the confrontation between Mr. Suzuki and Mr. Ito was that before the meeting between President Reagan and Prime Minister Suzuki, people had already been to NY to make an interim report on the incident of the Nisshomaru and the George Washington. At that time, they worked on the joint statement which would be announced after the Suzuki-Reagan talk. We briefed the Prime Minister about the joint statement in New York, and he did not object to anything. He just ordered us to explain everything to the Foreign Minister Ito in detail because he was the most interested one.

Murata: The Prime Minister said that?

Asao: Yes. So I explained various things to Mr. Ito. Even though the joint statement itself was completed, Mr. Ito expressed his own opinions on many points and asked them to be included into the statement. So a person who was in charge from the MOFA and the assistant undersecretary of State at that time, Mr. Armacost from the State Department, talked for the last time and created the new draft right before the meeting. Also, there were two meetings between Mr. Suzuki and Mr. Reagan. Although the first day was scheduled to discusss security issues, because of a demand from the American side, more exactly because Mr. Reagan wished so, we discussed economic issues on the first day. We discussed security problems the next day. Then Mr. Suzuki said he really wanted to express his own view on the security issues, so on the second day he himself explained the Japanese security policy. However, after the first day, we were asked to give a briefing in advance on the joint statement to the Japanese journalists who had accomanied our trip. So at midnight we gave them a briefing. Also, at the press conference on the second day, Mr. Suzuki said there was no military aspect involved in paragraph 8 of the joint statement. One journalist inquired of the Prime Minister about every detail of the matter and finally, Mr. Suzuki said there was no military aspect involved. But the truth was there was a military aspect in the paragraph 8 of the joint statement. In short, paragraph 8 stated that Japan would support US military activities within the constraints of her Constitution, the US-Japan Security Treaty, and diplomatic agreements related to the said treaty. It was the duty of Japan (to support the US military.) Because of these events, the press first paid attention to the joint statement and the press conference. Japanese newspapers did not carry the article on Mr. Suzuki's explanation on the security issues. In the meeting with President Reagan, when Prime Minister Suzuki saw the newspapers, which focused on the alliance problem, he was enraged that what was written was different from his ideas. When they came back to Tokyo, Mr. Ito said that the Joint Statement between Japan and the United States contained the military aspects, and said he would resign.

Murata: You mentioned that Foreign Minister Ito expressed his opinions about the Joint Statement. If you don't mind, would you tell me what concretely Minister Ito said?

Asao: I don't remember about the concrete things, but he told us to emphasize the economic aspects such as Article II of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and United States of America. About paragraph 8 itself, he did not order to change it or anything. He did not order to omit the word "alliance," either.

Murata: When Prime Minister explained the rules of Japanese security policy to the President, he emphasized the aspects of the restriction of the Constitution, right?

Asao: That aspect of his explanation was not at all in the newspapers. That was because journalists knew about the Joint Statement before, and they scooped it because of its article value.

Murata: I see. Was it also that time when Mr. Suzuki talked about the Sea Lane Defense of one thousand marine miles in connection to that?

Asao: We did not know anything about it. I do not know why Mr. Suzuki talked about it when he was answering the questions at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.. I don't know why it had to be there, either. It seemed like when the Defense Agency explained the various issues to Prime Minister, the Sea lane defense was mentioned, too. Even though it was talked about, the Sea Lane defense was not the policy of the Defense Agency or anything. But it occupied Mr. Suzuki's mind, and during the Press Conference with the American journalists, he happened to talk about the Sea Lane Defense and one thousand miles.

Murata: Does that mean that the MOFA was also very surprised?

Asao: Yes, of course.

Murata: That means when the Prime Minister goes to places like the National Press Club to make a speech, it's possible that he could say something that was not known to the Director General of the North American Bureau in advance.

Asao: Yes, it's possible. Unfortunately, a section chief who was in charge and I were not there when the Prime Minister was briefed about what kind of questions were going to be asked before going to the Press Center. We had to go for the talks between Secretary of Defense Weinburger and the Foreign Minister. It was unfortunate in that sense, but we regretted that we did not explain more about the Sea Lane Defense when the Prime Minister had a briefing with us. However, we did not know in advance whether the Sea Lane defense would be raised at the Foreign Press Center.

Murata: I see. You can not check the questionnaires in advance when you have the Press Conference?

Asao: No, we can't. Especially with the American press, it's impossible. Since it's customary, the chairman of the club collects the questionnaires. Then he chooses the better questions and reads them. Thus, we can't touch the questions at all.

Murata: Then how did the MOFA correspond to the Prime Minister's statement?

Asao: At the Diet's reply we explained what Japan would do about matters related to the Sea Lane Defense and that they were within the extent of the Constitution. I think if you read the Diet's minutes of that time, you would know the exchanges we had in the Diet.

Murata: The period you were the Director General of the North American Bureau was the time that the Reagan administration succeeded the Carter administration. Having had relationships with both the Carter administration and the Reagan administration, did you see any big differences between the two in their approaches, or their demands towards Japan's defense contribution? Or did you have an impression that there was no big difference, since the Carter administration became very anti-Soviet after the Soviet's invasion into Afghanistan?

Asao: With the invasion into Afghanistan, and hostage problem in Iran and many other incidents, at the end of the Carter administration they started taking a very severe stance toward the Soviets. Then Reagan called the Soviets the Evil Empire. Around that time the United States started to reinforce their military forces and their national defense strategies. I don't think there was a big difference between the end of the Carter administration's policy towards Japan and that of the Reagan administration. However, the Reagan administration asked for our commitment more concretely in relation to their reinforcement of the defense forces.

Murata: Yes.

Asao: Assistant Secretary of Defense West asked Japan strongly to increase her defense budgets. We objected to his statement that we should do more. Our logic was that after building a two story building, we could not suddenly add ten stories to it.

Murata: One more thing in 1980, the Maritime Self-Defense Forces joined RIMPACK. RIMPACK 80, I think it was the very first one. You became the Director General at the end of January, 1980. At that time, was everything decided about RIMPACK?

Asao: It was all decided and Mr. Sasa, Director General of the Defense Agency, answered at the Diet's questions very clearly.

Murata: Was Mr. Sasa the Director General of Educational Training division at that time?

Asao: Yes, he was.

Murata: About joining RIMPACK, did the MOFA judge that there was no problem both with the Constitution and the Diet? You determined that there wouldn't be that much trouble with the Diet, that it would go smooth?

Asao: I thought there was no problem with the Constitution, but I could not predict what would happen with the Diet. Since Mr. Sasa's testimony went so smoothly, it did not become big trouble.

Murata: Then, the MOFA's feeling was that since the Defense Agency was working so hard, we won't object to anything?

Asao: Yes. Rather, at that time the biggest problem the Budget Committee had was defining the sphere of the Far East. My colleague, the Director General of Treaty Mr. Date, said there was no limit to the sphere of the Far East. Committee stopped for a while and was a bit of problem.

Murata: I see. This will be the last point I will ask you. You mentioned the Reischauer speech a little bit ago, and it was when Mr. Komori from the Sankei Newspaper interviewed Mr. Reischauer that he said, in short, that "introduction" is different from "transit." Through this project I have interviewed some people, and one person who had once experienced as vice-minister at the Defense Agency told me that military speaking, it's impossible to check transits. If you stick to checking transits, you have to inspect all of them, including the Soviet's submarines. Otherwise you can't carry through the three non-nuclear principles. Militaristically, it is the consensus that "transit" is not what we call "carrying in." However, it's hard to say so politically. That is what I have heard from several people I interviewed. Do you think that was the feeling of the MOFA, too? Basically, the MOFA recognized that "transit" is different from what the Japanese Government calls "carrying in?"

Asao: At the beginning, we used to differentiate "transit" from "carrying in." However, due to the three non-nuclear principals, the MOFA started to argue consistently that both "transit" and "carrying in" are against the (three non-nuclear) principals. When we kept saying this, at my high school reunion, my teacher of Chinese classics told me that "it's so fake of them to ask you questions about it, but so is your answer." That was the case.

Murata: Rather, my impression was because of the speech of Mr. Reischauer, the issue became a political problem. It was talked about at many other places, and as a result, the MOFA kept its, how do you say, defending reply. The MOFA, rather the government itself, narrowed the definition of "carrying in" because of that.

Asao: That was the case even before that.

Murata: Even before that?

Asao: Yes. When they started the three non-nuclear principals during the Miki administration, the definition got strict. I think there was a time when the consensus was that "transit" was different from "carrying in." However, with the three non-nuclear principals and NPT, the definition became very strict.

Murata: However, even though Japanese government started saying clearly that "transit" is included in "carrying in" with the change of Japanese domestic law, or with the NPT, they didn't have any negotiations with the United States about it, or announce that Japan's definition became more rigid, did they?

Asao: No, we didn't do that. However, our understanding was that since we announced it at the Diet's reply, it made the Japanese government's stand point clearly to the United States.

Murata: But in reality, there was no expectation that America would change their attitudes because of it, right?

Asao: Well, I think there was not. But, the American side did not challenge us about it, either. There was a consensus between us.

Murata: One more thing in connection to the definition. The Guidelines talked about, actually it was originally in the National Defense Program Outline, that Japan has to deal with the limited small-scale military attack. While you were in the MOFA, what did the limited small-scale military attack mean? What kind of situations were imagined? Even if you don't concretely remember about it, was there any consensus in the MOFA's descriptions?

Asao: Probably Mr. Maruyama...I think either Mr. Maruyama or the other senior official of the Defense explained about it. We estimated how long the Self-Defense Forces could stand it if the attack was small scale.

Murata: It was the Diet's reply. Then, there was the consensus of the government. While you were there from 1980 to 1982, during those 2 and a half years, besides what I asked you about, what do you recall as the big incidents with the Japan-US relationship?

Asao: Well, with respect to economics, we started to have negotiations over the individual goods such as textile and automobiles. It is my impression that was the beginning of the Japan-US economic friction when Foreign Minister Ito went to the United States because of the automobile problems. They asked the Japan to open the automobile market more. Well, the beginning was rather the textile negotiations, but after that, the automobile issue was the most serious problem. But at that time, the consensus was even though we had some economic problems with individual goods, we had to keep a good relationship with the United States, including security relations.

Murata: Mr. Amaya was the councilor of the MITI at that time?

Asao: I think so.

Murata: He talked about the voluntary regulations. Actually, I had the opportunity to interview Ambassador Kikuchi before; he was at that time the councilor in charge of the economic issues. Ambassador Kikuchi told me he himself was against the voluntary regulations. He said he and Mr. Amaya were called by Mr. Nikaido who was the Chairman of the Board of the LDP at that time and asked to discuss voluntary regulations. Mr. Kikuchi argued that if the American side asked so, then there should possibly be voluntary regulations, but without a request, it's diplomatically strange that Japan would be willing to have voluntary regulations. Mr. Amaya argued if we don't have voluntary regulations now, Americans might bring out tougher legislation and might worsen the Japan-US relationship. Thus they had a hot discussion, but eventually, Mr. Nikaido said he could understand Mr. Kikuchi, but as a political judgment, he sided with Mr. Amaya. Thus, Ambassador Kikuchi told me the story of how they started the voluntary regulations. How was it in the MOFA? Were there many voices against the voluntary regulation?

Asao: I think so, logically. But American side was aware of the sensitivity of the issue, and actually wanted to ask for it (Japan's voluntary regulations). But, if they asked for it, they would get more involved than they wanted to, so they couldn't. So as for form, they wanted the Japanese side to start the voluntary regulations. The reality was that Foreign Minister Ito went over there to talk about it with Secretary of State Vance at that time.

Murata: Thank you very much.