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February 7, 1979

Meeting of Former Prime Minister Tanaka and Vice Premier Deng (Summary Record)

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III. Meeting of Former Prime Minister Tanaka and Vice Premier Deng (Summary Record)


Following are the main points of Vice Premier Deng's meeting with Former Prime Minister Tanaka, which took place on the 7th, from four p.m., for an hour and fifteen minutes.


(Participants -- Other side: Vice Premier Deng, Vice Premier Fang Yi, Foreign Minister Huang Hua, et alia; our side: House of Representatives Member Nikaido, Asian Affairs Deputy Director-General Miyake, [blacked out] (interpreter))


1. Invitation to Former Prime Minister Tanaka to Visit China


Vice Premier Deng started by saying: I have once again come to visit old friends.  The invitation from the last time to Former Prime Minister Tanaka to visit China is still open and I would very much like you to come in the near future. Former Prime Minister Tanaka accepted the invitation.


2. Japan-US-China Relations


(1) Vice Premier Deng said: The development of relations between the United States and China reflects the wishes of the people of both countries. It is a natural development and meets the demand of the times. I know that there are people saying this and that about my stopping by Japan on the way back from my visit to the United States.  


(2) In response, Former Prime Minister Tanaka said: I. . . [rest of sentence, on next page, missing]


[page missing]


… [first part of sentence, from previous page, missing], which I would very much like. I have always explained to ASEAN leaders that China's diplomacy is peace-oriented. How do you see things?


(2) In response Vice Premier Deng said: Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong had visited ASEAN, going around making pledges that he would not keep. Some persons at that time believed him, but I did not act like that. Vietnam afterwards intervened in Cambodia, and ASEAN came to know how Vietnam really is. What Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong said was like he had sold his soul. My own (Deng) ASEAN tour did not yield ideal results, but I think that each ASEAN country believed that China tells the truth, so I believe that some results came of it.


(3) Former Prime Minister Tanaka said: I understand the substance of what the Vice Premier has said. The feeling of the ASEAN countries is that they hope that China, on the basis of friendly relations among Japan, the United States and China, not threaten the present order of each ASEAN country. Particularly, in the case of Thailand, the wish is for China not to give particular support to the Communist Party … [rest of sentence, on following page, missing].


[two pages missing]


While repeating henceforth this dialogue, it will likely take time for a peaceful resolution.


(2) Vice Premier Deng said: I said in the United States that withdrawing the US military from South Korea would not have a bad effect on the security of Asia, that it would serve to promote dialogue, and that the United States would be able to take the initiative in the problem of peace. Even though the United States seemed to find some reason in this, they gave absolutely no concrete response to my opinion.  


Former Prime Minister Tanaka, saying that he understood the Chinese side's explanation, stressed the need to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.


In response Vice Premier Deng said: It is hardly likely that conflict would occur on the Korean Peninsula. We know the North well and that, on the other hand, Japan knows the South well, so this kind of exchange of opinions is beneficial.


5. Indochina Problem


(1) Vice Premier Deng asked whether it was good to do nothing about Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia. Former Prime Minister Tanaka responded: Japan desires peace in Asia. It is necessary to end the vicious cycle of war's escalation. Having put his hope in the United Nations, it is regrettable that it has been unable to do anything. It would be beneficial for the sake of peace for Japan, the United States, and China henceforth to hold various discussions.


(2) Furthermore, Vice Premier Deng said: We have learned a lesson from Cuba. Now is the time that we should summarize that experience. The United States applied some sanctions in Zaire, which only expelled Cuba from there. France took positive action; China, too, sent arms. The result was that China and France were criticized by some. It would be good if the US position, too, were such as to be criticized as well. In Iran, too, the Soviet Union is meddling, but it cannot be said that the United States has taken effective measures. There is a moral significance to United Nations resolutions, but it is no good to rely only on them.


There is a need to take appropriate real action against the "Cuba of the East," a need to apply limited sanctions. If the sanctions are strict, there may be some reaction from the north. We need to foresee the possibility of some degree of danger. Invasion must be punished. If nothing is done, then there will be a chain reaction. I can well understand Japan's government calling on both China and Vietnam for self-restraint, but is it really likely that Vietnam will restrain itself and pull its troops out of Cambodia? Therefore, even at the risk of some danger, we should act. We ourselves do not foresee that great a danger. That is because our action will be moderate. The US government, too, has called for self-restraint similar to that of Japan's call. Among America's statesmen were those who think it would be useful to proceed with needed action. In the end, China's attitude regarding this problem can be summarized in the following three points:


(a) China always carries out what it said it would do. (b) China takes action after deep thought and mature consideration.   (c) China does not do foolish things.


China will handle this problem from its own position. Frankly speaking, the United States and Western Europe have been too weak-kneed on Cuba. China has made this criticism. From this point onward we cannot have the "Cuba of the East" bearing down on us and not do anything. The threat to Japan from the increase in Soviet power through Vietnam cannot be said to be less than that to China. It is serious for Japan as well in also posing a threat to Japan's lifeline (a reference to the oil supply route through the Malacca Strait). The United States sees the problem of Iran also effecting Saudi Arabia, which because it cannot trust the United States, is seeking a new supporter.  In the past, Pakistan's Bhutto opposed the Soviet Union but, in his latter period, he became unable to trust the United States and leaned toward the Soviet Union.


Deng and Tanaka discuss Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and ASEAN, among other subjects.

Document Information


Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 01-1237-2, 034-039. Contributed by Robert Hoppens and translated by Stephen Mercado.


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