Okinawa 1965 Elections



MemCon Records Discussion of Funnelling Funds to LDP

The National Security Archive today released a newly-declassified State Department document revealing a covert plan "to influence the elections in the Ryukyus" through secret funding of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The document was discovered by Dr. Robert A. Wampler, Director of the Archive's U.S.-Japan Project.

According to the secret memorandum of conversation, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer advocated "permitting the Japanese LDP to handle the money in the most effective way." Loss of the legislative elections, he feared would "make it harder for the Japanese Government to hold its present position of cooperative acquiescence" in the continued U.S. military presence on Okinawa. The document also records Reischauer's warning that "if the U.S. is caught with its hand in the cookie jar there will be a serious blow-up in Japan."

Covert political operations in Japan remains one of the most tightly held U.S. secrets. The CIA has refused to declassify any documents on covert aid to the LDP in the 1950s and early 1960s. Only two weeks ago, the State Department's Historical office released its FRUS (Foreign Relations of the United States) volume on U.S.-Japanese Relations, 1961-1963 warning that the exclusion of CIA records rendered the publication incomplete.

"This document provides the first concrete evidence of U.S. covert aid to the LDP," said Dr. Wampler. "We now have an unambiguous record of a meeting where the U.S. Ambassador gave his support to clandestine aid to the LDP with the goal of influencing Okinawan politics."

Tensions between the Japanese and the United States escalated in the mid 1960s as Okinawa became a key military base for the U.S. war in Vietnam. The U.S. presence there continues to create conflict, most recently following the rape of a teenage girl by a U.S. serviceman.

U.S. Policy in the Ryuku Islands
Secret Memorandum of Conversation, 10 pp.
Origin: United States. Department of State
Date Declassified: 1996/09/17

Pages: (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)  (10)

For more information contact Robert Wampler:

The U.S.-Japan Project has received support from the Yomiuri Shimbun, the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the Compton Foundation and the Japan-United States Friendship Commission.

The National Security Archive,
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