Created: 11/9/1967

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Prime Minister Sato's Positionenascent Japan

Special Report




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Onovember Prime Minister Eisaku Sato begins his second viBit to the US. Since hiB first visit ine has consolidated his power base in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and has successfully led his partyational election. Sato believes that Japan's emergence as one of the four leading industrial powers of the world has given it the potential toajor force for stability in the Far East. He interprets the outcome of last January's election as an endorsement of his government's policies of close relations with the US andradual expansion of Japan's economic and political role in Asia. His principal objective in talks with US leaders will probably be to gain some concessions on Okinawa.

First Two Years in Office

Eisaku Sato came into office inhen PrimeHayato Ikeda becaneill--with theimage of an activist, reedy to set out on new paths abroad and uncompromising in dealing with the domestic opposition. Sato had created this image tohimselfandidate in his unsuccessful attemptthat year to unseat Ikeda as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). He pledged that if elected his wouldshort, fat" tenure compared with Ikeda's "long, thin one."

From the beginning of his administration, however, Sato sufferedack of popularity within his own party, and the public was largely apathetichim. Moreover, his right-wing identification made him

anathema to the left. Although Satokillful politician in handling party and government affairs behind the scenes, his public performances were on the whole unimpressive.

Although he was responsive to Japanese aspirations forinternational statusfrom economic power and anationalism, Sato's options in domestic and internationalwere limited. Soon after becoming prime minister, he stated that "independent diplomacy in Asia" would be one of the focal points of his administration. But having projected this image of as-sertiveneas, Sato faced theof coming up with feasible programs that would captureimagination and support.

He was hampered by the lacklear popular mandate,and he was dependent on the support of

party faction leader* who wera nearly his equal in power. In the diplomatic field, Sato wasbecause Japan'sia circumscribed by its dependence on the US for security and trade. In dealing withSato has been faced with tha problem of not offendingChina and the US on the one hand, and of not antagonising those in his own party whocloser tiea with Peking on the other. Paced with these limitations, Sato waa obliged to scale down his goals and settle for policies acceptable to the diverse factions within theparty.

Sato's first two years in office brought no major and his party merely hald ita own in the Diet upper house elections of Mora-over, an economic slowdown and series of scandals5 andthe TokyoAssembly, members of Sato'a cabinet, and some of his party's Diet mambers--tarnished the image of both the primeand tha ruling party. In this grim political climate ofeneralmandatory by lata the next year, Sato finally decided that dalay would only further dim his prospects. Ha dissolved the lower house in December and called for an election the following month.

The Election of7

Despite the bearishoutlook for the conservatives, the LDP retained an affective

majority in the lower house, and Satouch-needod popular mandate. The pripwj Ministera major boost because the LDP held its own in the election despite pessimistic predictions of critics both within and outside his party.

The results of the election pointed up tha Japaneso political axiom that electoral contests hinge mora on local than onissues such as the charge of corruption in the LDP, which had been played up by theparties and the national pad ia. Diet candidates depend largely or. personal reputation, the strength of their localand the benefits they gain for their constituents.

Sato's authority over his own party has Improved since the January elections. Tha intra-party factions supporting Sato gained strength while some of his opponents in the LCP lost their seats, and this tends to deter efforts by rival LDP loaders to unseat him. Most of his opponents in the "newho in tha past have sniped at thafor falling to improvewith Peking, have beenBubdued this year. The turmoil on the Chinese mainland has probably further inhlbitad the "new right."

For ita part, the maintha Japan Socialist Party

ot only failed to benefit from the conservatives'but evenew seats The LDP's good showing in the alec

tion apparently also contributed

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an increase in the'e popularity that has been reflected in public opinion polls throughout this year.

The LOP's showing in tha election also bolstered Sato's self-confidence, and his support for the US position in Vietnam became more outspoken. Hie trip to Taiwan in September and his invitation to Nationalist China's Defense Minister Chiang Ching-kuo to visit Japan later in November were made at the risk ofa cutback in trade withand the possible adverse political repercussions at hone.

Next year, Sato must decide whether tohird term as LDP president in the8 party elections. At present, he has no serious rivals for the party's leadership. Two possible eventual successors. ForeignTakeo Miki and partyGeneral Takeo Fukuda, seem content to bide their time.

Sato's Accomplishments

Since he became primeSato has achieved one major objective long sought by his predecessors and has embarked on several new programs.

Ilia most significantie the normalization ofwith South Korea by maansreaty he pushed through the Diet in Japan's relations with Seoul haveconsiderably since the treaty's ratification, and Sato attended President Pak Chong-hui's second inauguration last July.

Tokyo regards South Korea not onlyatural market and area for investment butountry of strategic importance tosecurity.

Under Sato, Japan also has taken some tentative stepsider role in Asia, although the groundwork was laid bypostwar administrations. The Japanese Government is gropingoreign aid policywith the nation's new status as one of the world's industrial leaders. Until recently, however, official Japanese aid toAsia has been largelyto reparations, which were treated by Japan as obligations to be diacharged as expeditiously as possible.

Although Japan ie the most economically advanced of the Asian countries, efforts by the more progressive elements of thein the Foreignassume active leadership in the development of Asia have beenby three major fectors. The first of these is the anxiety in circles overtoward Japan lingering from World War II. The second is the lack of public supportolicy of expanded foreign aid. Strong domestic demand for public investment in Japan, whose standard of living is still relatively low by European standards, has led to top priority for domesticat the expense of foreign aid.

The third impediment to an expanded Japanese economic role

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Asia stems from theperspectives of the three ministries principally involved in formulating aid policy. The Foreign Ministry is normally the advocate of economic assistance to strengthen Japan's diplomatic relations, while the Ministry of Trade and Industry thinks in terms of trade promotion. The Finance Ministry, which reflects the views of the power establishment in business and industrialusually places higheron domestic investment.

These divergencies of view have been narrowed by Sato's growing emphasis on the needreater Japanese role ineconomic affairs in Asia. Although Satoivotal place in the cabinet, however, hemake unilateral decisions. His actions are circumscribed by the necessity, long traditional in the Japanese parliamentary system, for consensus in decision making. In addition, no Japanese prime minister is likely tothe finance minister, who represents the position of the power establishment on which the LDP depends for financial support.

Tho Changing Japanese Role In Asia

Despite these difficulties, Tokyo hasomewhat more positive approach to foreign aidnd business and government leaders areaware of the long-runto Japan of economicof Asia. In the past two years, Japanese aid policy toward Asia has emphasized multilateral

regional relationships. This trend was cloar in Japan's initiative in organizing the Southeast Asian Ministerial Conference, which met in Tokyo in6 and again in Manila last April.

Japan alsoajor role in meetings of the Asia and Pacific Council <ASPAC) at Seoul in6 and Bangkok innd in the conference on Southeast Asian agriculturalheld in Tokyo last The Sato administration has given strong support to the Asianmillion contribution, matching that of the US, and apledge to the special fund for agricultural development. Japan isajor participant in international efforts toIndonesia's international financial position.

Japanese leaders viewby all Asian-Pacificas an essential factor in developing regional stability. They have, therefore, successfully persuaded participants to avoid giving the regional conferences an anti-Communist coloration in the hope of attracting other Asian non-Communist but neutralist countries.

Prime Minister Sato'svisits during the past two months to eight countries in Southeast Asia, including South Vietnam as well as Australia and Hew Zealand, have stressed the continued Japanese interest in the area. Although some of the countries had been visited during


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the past ten years by hisIkeda and Kishi-Klahi, Sato's tour was the most wide-ranging diplomatiic reconnaissanceapanese statesman since World War II.

His avowed aims during the tour were to gain personalof the area, to explain Japan'sorld War IIto exchange views onChina and Vietnam, and to review bilateral questions, largely of an economic nature. Sato also undoubtedly believedresh, firsthand view of Southeast Asia would betterhim for discussions inthis month.

The generally favorableof the Japanese public toward this venture in regional diplomacy reflects some growing maturity on their part towardJapan's role Inrelations.

Defense Policy

Sato has longtronger defense posture for his country. InPeking's first nuclear, he began publiclyan expansion of Japan's defense establishment asreaterrole; the first serious public debate on Japaneseensued. In the face of leftist opposition, Sato firmly supported the Mutual Security Treaty with the US, and ignored traditional taboos againstthe need for nuclear

lie considers that theresult of last Januaryan endorsement of his support for mutual defensewith tha US. Peking's progress in nuclear weapons and the negative reaction in Japan to China's internal struggle over the past yearalf haveore favorablefor discussing defense.

The Japanese Defense Agency in late August announced itsbudget for the next fiscal year, which calls for aincrease itto be seen, however, to what extent Sato's efforts toeightened defense consciousness can be translatedoreattitude in the Finance Ministry, which has alwaysarsimonious view of defense budgetary requests in the postwar period.


Prime Minister Sato plansmajor attention toof Okinawa duringtrip toreversion issue has drawnattention inhen, during aOkinawa, Sato declared inthat the World War IInot be completely overthe Ryukyu Islands ^ Since then, h reminded

ment and domestic pres for an early return of Oki has sharply increased durii : ia past few months. Crowing na >nal pride has fanned resent. ;it that



nearly one million eainic Japanese in the Ryukyus have remained under alien control for overears. The opposition parties and public media all have been urging afor reversion that couldSato's freedom for maneuver, both in domestic policies andhis talks in Washington.

All Japanese opposition parties now are pressing theto request at least the immediate reversionan on nuclear weapons, and limitations on use of the islandase for US combat operations. The mainJSP, is maintaining its past hard position of immediate reversion and removal of US bases.

On Okinawa as well, reversion hasominant politicalfor the past few years. evidence suggests, however,ajority of the Okinawan population, motivatedreat extant by the realization of the island's economic dependence on US-related activity, is nowto accept an arrangement allowing the us to maintainof its bases after reversion.

Sato reportedly believes that domestic pressure in Japan will oblige him toormalfor tha full return of the Ryukyus. Although he undoubtedly realizes that the US could nottoequest at this time, he reportedly considers it politically vital that histrip result in someprogress toward meetingdesires. Therefore, he will

probablyundamentalwith the US regardingof the island to Japan as well as some preliminary measures to prepare for the restoration of full administrative rights. Furthermore, Sato may press hard for an immediate return of the Bonin Islands, which the Japanese do not consider of strategic value to the US, although he will be amenable to US retention of its installations. At any rate, the domestic political climate will make it difficult for him toan arrangement governing US bases on Okinawa that would both meet US requirements forsecurity in the region and also be acceptable to the Japanese public.

Sato deplores the "excessive optimism" in Japan concerning the possibility of an early reversion of Okinawa. He and some other Liberal Democratic Party members have attempted to reduce popular expectations by outlining theof the issue in terms of Japan's securityuclear-armed world. There are signs that this educational effort is bearing fruit. For the first time since their defeat in world War II, the Japanese are beginning publicly to consider defense problems more At the moment,reversionist sentiment still takes precedencerowing awareness of defense requirements.

A considerable divergence of views on reversion also remains within the ruling LDP itself. This centers, however, less on the importance of Okinawa to Japan's




than on howine the party can hold against tho mounting domestic pressure. For his part, Sato la aware that any mishandling of tho issue would be exploited by possible rivals for his post of party president.


The Sato government has been sympathetic to US objectives In Vietnam although strong adverse public opinion, particularly in - when the US greatly increased ita military commitment, prevented Tokyo from voicing forthrightapproval. US peace efforts, however, especially the bombing pause in5 and the fact that the Chinese Communists have not been drawn into the war, have permitted the government to give more open support to both the US and South Vietnam.

The Japanese news media's predictions of defeat for Saigon and its attacks against USin Vietnam, which were rife inave steadilyin the past year. Public interest in Vietnam has receded and understanding of US policy has increased. Furthermore, South Vietnam's constituent assembly elections of6 and the recent presidential ejectionseluctant admission from the Japanese media that South Vietnam was moving towardgovernment. There are also increasing signsopular realization that Vietnam cannot be viewed apart from the problem

of over-all peace and security in the Far East.

This change in Japaneseencouraged both Sato andMinister Miki last month to voice support of US policies in Vietnam. Both men stated--Miki in Tokyoctober and Sato in Canberra on thea US suspension of bombing should be reciprocated by some meaningful action by Hanoi. Sato alsoSaigon onctober in the face of strident attacks from Japanese Socialists who played upon the public's belief thatneutrality toward the war would enable Tokyo to play some roleettlement.

CocrauniaL China

Sato is also intent oncurrent US thinking on China. The excesses of theRevolution have prompted an increasing Japaneseand haveizable segment of the population that was formerly sympathetic to Poking. Japanese apologists for China are at least temporarily subdued, and many non-Communist intellectuals and publishers have boen disabused of their idealized viow of Sino-Japanese cultural kinship. Japanese interest in trade continues, the economic disruption of the Cultural Revolutionharp drop inJapanese trade this year.

The Chinese nuclear andprograms have already deeply

disturbod many Japanese. Further-more, Peking's uncompromisingly bard line on Vietnam and itsof foreign embassies in Peking have strengthened theof an unpredictable and belligerent China. Chineseof AsianBurma, which is regarded in Japan as tha epitome of inoffensivealso had adverse re-percuss tone .

Political relations between the two countries continue to be minimal. Contacts have beento LDP members' visits to the mainland and to the quasioffi-cial trade offices set up in the two capitals under the Liao-Taka-saki trade agreement In

direct personal contact withJapanese visitors, however, the Chinese have Indicated they are prepared to coexist with Japan.

Future trends in Sino-Japa-nese relations will be greatly affected by developments on the nainland. hinese shift toward greater moderation could reverse the present trend and increase pressures in Japan for expanding relations with Peking. So longough line dominates Peking's policy, however, those Japaneseoliticalwith the mainland will be discouraged from pressing their views on the government. (SECRET NO FOREIGN DISSEM)

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