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Series Two: British Foreign Office Files for Post-war Japan, 1952-1980
(Public Record Office Classes FO 371 and FCO 21)

Part 7: Complete Files for 1969-1971
(PRO Class FCO 21/555-593 and following)

"These British Archives provide invaluable analyses of Japan's social, economic and political development, and fully document her changing relations with Britain and the Commonwealth."
Dr Gordon Daniels
Reader in Modern Far Eastern History, University of Sheffield
and President of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists

This microfilm project provides files only recently opened for research covering the crucial period of Japanese development from the end of the Allied Occupation in 1952 to the establishment of Japan as a major economic power by the early 1960's. There is a strong emphasis on economic, trade and financial policy issues as well as on relations with the United States, China, Taiwan, Britain and Europe. The focus on the economic strength of Japan becomes even stronger in the files for the 1960's and early 1970's. The material in this collection contains a wealth of information from the British Foreign Office Central Political Files concerning Japan. Drawing on reports, memoranda, despatches, official instructions and regular communications between the Foreign Office and the British Embassy and Consulates in Japan, many of the most pressing issues of the day are discussed and appraised. Subjects covered range in scope from Annual Reports and fortnightly summaries of events in Japan (for each year covered in the series), Japanese political, social and economic issues, to criminal jurisdiction over UN forces in Japan, foreign relations, defence issues, the NATO expert working group in the Far East, education, the environment, living standards, culture, student disturbances and territorial disputes.

Part 7 continues the microfilm series for the years 1969-1971. Economic and financial policy issues are again well covered. Other files cover the impressive Osaka Expo, the extension of the Security Treaty with the United States in 1970 and the Agreement of 1969 for the return of Okinawa to Japan, implemented in 1972. Increasingly, the documents begin to show heightened concerns in Britain, America and Europe about the speed of Japan's advance in foreign trade. There is evidence of anxiety about the growing imbalance of trade, the potential for destabilising consequences for international finance, the exceptional growth in trade with China and Taiwan, even criticism of Japanese reluctance to liberalise import controls and open up her markets to the West. The files towards the end of 1971 address the impact of the devaluation of the dollar against the yen, the confusion in financial markets and in trade, the severe inflation in Japan and difficulties for the Sato administration. Also well covered is the great upsurge of discontent in universities in Japan - the peace movement, campaigning on pollution and environmental issues.

Some of these issues are borne out in Sir John Pilcher's despatch of 21 October 1969 on The Quality of Life in Japan (see FCO 21/591), a 12 page document, which begins:

"Since the war, as the world knows, economic growth has been the prime object of Japanese policy. There are no signs that this policy will materially change in the near future. But in recent months dissident voices have come increasingly to be heard, arguing that a country's prosperity cannot be judged by Gross National Produce alone, and hinting that the time may soon come - may indeed be already upon us - when more attention should be devoted to social policies which do not have a direct and immediately beneficial effect on Japan's rate of growth. These voices are not yet strong enough to warrant an actual shift of priorities. But they reflect a concern with the deterioration of the Japanese environment, which is real and potent enough eventually to provide a valuable weapon in the hands of those who seek to defeat the cliques and interest-groups which at present rule the country. The latest textbook to be adopted by the apostles of this belief is, strangely enough, a Government White Paper, that relates to the 'National Livelihood', which was published on 10 August over the imprint of the Economic Planning Agency. Even before its publication this White Paper made the front pages of the national press, when it was rejected in draft by the Cabinet and sent back for the deletion of certain offending phrases; these phrases, in the estimation of the growth-advocates led by the Minister of Finance, appeared to state it as Government policy that resources should be diverted from promising economic growth pure and simple to improving Japan's international standing in the provision of certain welfare facilities. Nevertheless, even amended, the White Paper remains a useful and penetrating assessment of the present Japanese environment and its defects."

Sir John Pilcher's despatch of 21 October 1969 entitled The Merry Wives of Ginza: Women's Status in Japan is also interesting. The summary sheet suggests:

"Today, to all appearances, she has been dramatically emancipated. She has a new nominal status in law and in public life, and her education has been revolutionised.Yet another rider must be entered: was she in fact so suppressed and is she in effect so emancipated? On closer examination, the realities are not so sunny in office and factory, in homes and in personal relationships. The Japanese do not necessarily share Western concepts of 'love' and marriage. There exists a curious impersonality towards matters sexual. The world of the geisha is illustrative. Unaccustomed leisure for women derives from present demographic trends. The processes of adaptation create fundamental strains and questionings. These stresses are not unique in Japan but special factors render them exceptionally severe. A certain reaction has set in. Thus this 'revolution' is the status of women as individuals is much less absolute than might seem. Irreversibly, her distant prospects are brighter. The personality of the Japanese male should also be the gainer in the long run."

At the end of this 25 page report he concludes: -

"Looking in conclusion beyond present dishevelments, relationships between Japanese men and women will surely find a new equilibrium in due time. It is hard to imagine that there can now be a deep recession into former perspectives. 'The fact that Japanese women of today can behave so unreservedly towards me', said Chie Nakane of Tokyo University in a recent interview, 'simply means that it has become possible for them to express their influence openly. It does not mean that weak women have suddenly become strong. It is not a qualitative change but a conditional one.' True, but it is a conditional change of immense significance. It is, as I said at the beginning, what much of the fuss of 1969 is really all about. Being unsubjected to arduous infantile disciplines, because she is not considered sufficiently important, the Japanese female is more naturally spontaneous, more flexible, more free-moving than the male. She is, so to speak, quicker on the draw all round - and is increasingly gaining the nerve to demonstrate it ."

The files for 1969 contain much material on the British Week in Tokyo, 26 September to 5 October, attended by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, the President of the Board of Trade, the Lord Mayor of London and HMS Fearless.

In November 1969, Sato, the Japanese Prime Minister had important talks with President Nixon in the United States. These discussions and other high level meetings are well recorded in the British files with relevant comments and minutes from officials.

The Annual Review of Japan for 1969, prepared by D R Ashe, and dated 1 January 1970, (see FCO 21/721) emphasizes the importance of Japan's relations with the United States:

".In general, Japan during the year continued her economic boom with unabated energy, but apart from her success in securing from the United States the return of Okinawa in 1972 remained cautious and hesitant in her foreign affairs. Japan in 1969 was psychologically as well as chronologically on the threshold of the 1970's. For the Japanese the agreement which Mr Sato obtained from President Nixon in November on the return of Okinawa in 1972 marked the end of the quarter-century which they regard as the 'post-war era'. As agreement became increasingly certain, Japanese thoughts switched to consideration of the attitudes and policies which the country, with its growing political and economic strength, should adopt in the new era ahead. The success of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in winning yet again a very comfortable majority at the general election held five days ago means that the problems of this new era will be tackled by a government with a mandate to maintain the alliance with the United States. The first serious test of this mandate will arrive when the Security Treaty comes up for review next summer, but already it is virtually a foregone conclusion that the outcome will be continuation of the Treaty."

Mr Aichi, the Japanese Foreign Minister, visited London in May 1969 and Emperor Hirohito made a state visit to Britain in 1971. These visits are well covered in the files.

Whilst Japan was well aware of Britain's diminished status in the post-war world, it was still important to keep good relations with Britain.

British Week was very successful but the Annual Review of 1969 notes:

". there is a danger of Japan under-estimating us as a purely European country which has yet to get into our own local fast league while our countrymen in Britain fail to spot quickly enough, especially in terms of commercial opportunity, what kind of league Japan is now playing in. British Week in Tokyo last year provided opportunities for reversing the balance which were successfully exploited, but we must make sure that the same will hold good for our participation in Expo 70 in Osaka."

FCO 21/926 is one of four files on the visit of Emperor Hirohito in 1971:

"...Within the short space of 17 days, the Imperial Party met President Nixon at Anchorage, paid state visits to Brussels, London and Bonn, unofficial visits to Copenhagen and Amsterdam and private visits to Paris and Geneva."

"...Public attitude towards the visit was marked by coolness. The routes were only fairly well lined with onlookers but there was no applause."

"...The relative coolness of public reaction to the visit did not prevent it from being a success. In fact there were only three individual public demonstrators throughout the stay. When one recalls the number of placards outside Claridges Hotel for virtually any distinguished foreign visitor I think we have done very well. It was perhaps a good thing that the Japanese should realise that it will take some time yet to work themselves back into favour."

The Foreign Office had been very concerned about how well the visit would be received and worried about public reaction and the feelings of war veterans and former prisoners of war who had fought in Burma, Malaysia and the Pacific.

The Annual Review of Japan for 1970 (see FCO 21/877) makes some interesting points about negotiations with both the United States and Britain. There were a number of complicating factors:

"Trade relations with the United States were soured by the American request that Japan restrict voluntarily her exports of non-cotton textiles to America. This confused Japanese opinion urged by the Americans to liberalise their own market. Relations with Britain were smooth with the balance of trade in our favour, but trade negotiations stagnated, because the Japanese wished first to see how our arrangements with the Common Market went. Meanwhile the Japanese economy boomed and exultation in its achievement found expression in Osaka Expo 70, which marked its coming of age. Foreign participation had a great educative effect on every Japanese. "

The opening piece to the summary in this Annual Review file is entitled Japan in 1970: 'Economic Man' Comes of Age. It provides an analysis of Japan's position on the world stage by the end of 1970 - the nation's economic priorities and philosophy contrasted with the requirements of defence expenditure, international commitments and social and environmental issues:

"Until 1970 economic success has mesmerised the Japanese: this was the vindication they needed after defeat. In 1970 the meaning of the Nixon Doctrine became clear to them. The price for the impending return of Okinawa and the pullout of the American combat forces from Japan, despite the automatic continuation of the Security Treaty with the United States, peacefully achieved, was increased expenditure on self-defence. Memories of militarism, which led to the disaster of 25 years ago, made this distasteful to Japanese opinion. The ebullient Director of the Self-Defence Agency tried to rehabilitate the Services in the public mind, overplaying his hand in the process. Then Mishima's ritual suicide aroused fears of a return to the Way of the Warrior, until it was seen in its theatrical perspective as an individual protest against the militarism of the age. It has, however, disturbed minds. Pollution and the defence of the 'quality of life' came to preoccupy the public. The whole direction taken by 'economic man' was called into question. Now the Japanese must step onto the international stage. Knowing their limitations, they started hesitantly by taking part in the Djakarta Conference on Cambodia and wishing to have a seat in the Security Council. They must now tackle the crucial issue of relations with Communist China, which take preference over relations with Russia, hampered anyhow by the issue of the Russian held Northern Islands."

Throughout the period, as the files in this microfilm edition demonstrate, Japan did everything possible to foster good relations with the United States and Britain. Covering an era which saw an escalation in hostility between East and West it is interesting to see how, whilst other countries were attempting to break away from capitalism, Japan was fostering a burgeoning economy and building political and cultural relations in the aftermath of the Second World War. This certainly continued to be the case in 1969-1971.

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