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April 14, 1969

Record of Furui-Zhou Enlai Meeting

This document was made possible with support from The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

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Information Disclosure Division

Record of Furui – Zhou Enlai Meeting

April 14, 1969
China Division

The meeting took place in the Great Hall of the People from 6:30 to 8:00 in the afternoon of April 6. Those attending on the Chinese side were Zhou Enlai (Premier), Li Xiannian (Vice Premier), Jia Shi (Vice Minister of Foreign Trade), Liu Xiwen (Acting Vice Ministry of Foreign Trade), Yan Fu (Representative on the Chinese Communist side of the Memorandum Trade Office), as well as accompanying personnel Li Mengjing and Zhang Feng. Those attending on the Japanese side were [Yoshimi] Furui (Dietman), [Tokuma] Utsunomiya (Dietman), [FNU] Okuba and [FNU] Munakata from the Japanese side of the Memorandum Trade Office, and a representative of the Japan Association for Promotion of International Trade (JAPIT).

Furui: Mr. [Kenzo] Matsumura sends his regards to Premier Zhou. 

Zhou: Thank you. Is Mr. Matsumura in good health? (Right after that, the first thing he said) We would welcome Mr. Matsumura visiting China in the latter half of this year.  (Note: Zhou must have read the letter to him from Dietman Matsumura concerning a visit by Fujiyama to China, but Zhou during the meeting did not say a single word about the issue of Fujiyama visiting China.)

Furui: Thank you. I will make sure to tell Mr. Matsumura.

Zhou: I will state my opinion regarding the communique for this meeting. The Sato government and the Japanese Communist Party are saying that China is interfering in Japan’s internal affairs. However, although I think that you all here think so, it is the Sato government that is interfering in internal affairs. Do you know what Japan’s foreign minister said in the Diet concerning relations between Japan and China?

Furui: I know that it happened twice in March.

Zhou: (Turning towards Dietman Utsunomiya) Are you Mr. Utsunomiya? It seems, Mr. Utsunomiya, that you were unable to attend the opening ceremony for the Japan Industrial Exhibition (note: Zhou’s sarcasm toward Utsunomiya). The Sato government is adopting a policy of separating politics from economics, but how can you separate the political and the economic? Is it not a childish trick? We do not want to carry out trade between Japan and China to the point of bowing to the policies of the Sato government and Chiang Kai-shek. In that case, we do not have to do it. Because of such a policy on the part of the Sato government, the Japan Industrial Exhibition in Shanghai was stopped. The Sato government did not allow the exhibition of 19 items and did not approve the sale of another 19 items. What kind of items are these?

JAPIT representative: I cannot say specifically, but they all can be used in war or are related to electronics, so they are all on the COCOM [Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls] list. 

Zhou: The COCOM list has already lost its significance. France, West Germany, Italy, and Belgium are no longer listening to what America says. The only one today listening to what America says is the Sato government. The Sato government, in adopting this kind of policy, plays the role of “a good example of what not to do.” The Chinese people can make these things themselves. The Soviet Union in 1959 unilaterally abandoned the New Defense Technical Accord between China and the Soviet Union and in 1960 withdrew all its technicians from China. This spurred the Chinese to action, and several years later, we were able to make an atomic bomb ourselves.

Sato is Kishi’s brother, is he not? They may have different mothers. Kishi, the older brother, has from the start has been someone who is behind the times, but the younger brother, too, is behind. The extent of US imperialism’s weakness is exposed by the Vietnam War. Johnson fought with 500,000 troops for three years against 17 million Vietnamese people in 130,000 square meters of land, but he hit a wall and left office. It remains to be seen how Nixon proceeds. Such a thing could not have been predicted at the start of the Vietnam War.

US imperialism has overextended its reach. It has meddled too much in the affairs of other lands. After the Second World War, US imperialism gave aid to Chiang Kai-shek, arming five million troops, allowing him to continue the Civil War with us. The result was that they lost everything and had to withdraw from China. US imperialism a year later again started a war, in Korea, and lost three years later. Eisenhower came in and settled the situation. In Vietnam, too, US imperialism has fought for three years but has hit a dead end. US imperialism has had others fight in its place, but in Korea and Vietnam has had to do its own fighting. The situation at present is as you know     . Perhaps the Pentagon will now ask Mr. Furui to become their chief of staff.(Note:Zhou’s joke is that, because the Pentagon does not know much about China, they may turn to Furui, who knows China well.)

Furui: No, the Pentagon does not have such confidence in me. I have heard you now speak of the American situation, but must not China have a greater concern regarding Soviet movements than regarding those of America? Please tell me frankly, Excellency, your opinion on this point.

Zhou: I think that you can understand our referring to the Soviet Union as “Soviet imperialism.” Recently, we have been referring to the “new tsar.” The Soviet Union, imitating the United States, has been meddling in every part of the world. In the Middle East, in Czechoslovakia as well, and also in Vietnam. Also, the Soviets are saying that China’s 9th Communist Party Congress is illegal. What right do foreigners have that they can say that it is illegal for the Chinese to hold a Party congress? Revisionists start not from the interests of the people but from those of the few. Recently, the Soviet revisionists have carried out organized armed provocations against Zhenbao Island. Zhenbao Island is Chinese territory. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is kept a map of the 1860 Sino-Soviet [TN: sic] agreement. This treaty is itself an unequal treaty, but it defines the channel of the Ussuri River as the boundary line. Within it, Zhenbao Island is on the Chinese side. The Soviet revisionists have gone so far as to change Zhenbao Island’s name and call it their own country’s territory. Soviet revisionism has committed such military provocations, but China’s main enemy is still not Soviet revisionism but US imperialism. (Note: The Japanese side sought to have Zhou say that the Soviet Union was worse than the United States, but Zhou, while seemingly lured into it, drove the point home that the main enemy was US imperialism.)

Utsunomiya: I remember that when former Prime Minister Ishibashi visited China in 1959, Premier Zhou said that Okinawa was Japanese territory. I also recall that Foreign Minister Chen Yi said that the Kurile Islands were Japanese territory. Is this position still the same? (Note: In this meeting, Premier Zhou was very well disposed toward Mr. Furui. On the contrary, he did not pay much attention to Mr. Utsunomiya. The thinking is that there was a distinction made between those who attended the conference in Santa Barbara and those who did not. It seems that the Chinese Communists think that attending such a conference only helps such persons as American spies.)

Zhou: Chairman Mao Zedong, too, previously told Japanese representatives that Habomai and Shikotan should be returned to Japan. The inhabitants there are Japanese. (Note: Utsunomiya asked a question concerning the Kurile Islands. In response, Zhou only responded regarding Habomai and Shikotan.) In regard to Okinawa, it used to bring tribute to China, but the inhabitants are Japanese. Without a doubt, it should be returned to Japan. In any case, I think that territorial issues should be solved by discussing them.

Utsunomiya: Chiang Kai-shek is saying, however, that Okinawa belongs to China.

Zhou: Chiang Kai-shek, to tell the truth, cannot at present even manage Taiwan itself. I wonder how he  can afford to extend his reach to Okinawa. You have no need to worry.

Speaking of Taiwan, I will tell you that some people in Japan – the Sato faction in power [TN: Chinese term dangquanpai highlighted in original text], the militarists – are on the move, “dreaming once more.” This is foolish and nothing more than an illusion. What you have to consider is that Chiang Kai-shek, were America to withdraw, would right away be no longer able to exist. Among Japan’s politicians, there are many who are even more behind than America’s politicians.

Utsunomiya: I am working toward a restoration of diplomatic relations in three years.

Zhou: How old are you?

Furui: I am over the age of 60.

Zhou: If you can live as long as Mr. Matsumura, you may be able to do it. (Note: This remark was taken as sarcasm on Zhou’s part.)

Furui: Did you read the letter from Mr. Matsumura? If you read it, I would particularly like to ask for Your Excellency’s consideration in regard to several issues about which he wrote. (Note: The Fujiyama visit to China and the arrest of the Japanese nationals are the main issues in Mr. Matsumura’s letter to Zhou.) 

Zhou: I read Mr. Matsumura’s letter. Regarding the several issues in the letter, I think that I will be able to give you an answer in the future. I have already taken note of these issues. However, I have been very busy these days and have not had the time to fully consider them. I am sure that I will have an answer for you in the future. So, for today, please be aware that I have already taken note of them.

Japanese side’s JAPIT representative: The Japanese people are worried about the prospects for trade between Japan and China, so please help.

Zhou: At present, the friendly trading companies are in difficult circumstances. However, if you withstand pressure from Sato’s reactionary government, US imperialism, Soviet revisionism, the Japan Communist Party, and so on, and make efforts with friendship in mind, then it is not the case that there are no prospects for development in trade between Japan and China. Even today, trade is not impossible. Let our two sides be complementary in what they have and do not have: China will provide what it has and Japan does not and Japan will provide what is has and China does not. Let us trade according to the principle of mutual benefit and equality. If we make such efforts, trade between Japan and China can develop.,

Zhou: By the way, Mr. Okazaki has been busy coming and going, hasn’t he? (Note: This was Zhou’s sarcastic remark for Mr. Okazaki’s being unable to stay in Communist China until the signing.)

(Zhou, speaking politely at the end of the meeting) Thank you very much for your patience these past two days. It seems that you are leaving tomorrow. I wish you a safe journey. (He walked us to the door and shook hands with each of us one by one. His way of shaking hands at that time differed according to which person’s hand he shook. With Mr. Furui, he was very friendly. When Mr. Utsunomiya’s turn came, Zhou shook hands while turning away and talking to someone else. That is because Utsunomiya, due to criticism from the Sato Cabinet, had been absent from the opening ceremony of the Japan Industrial Exhibition and because he had attended the conference in Santa Barbara.


The above are all the noteworthy points in the meeting with Zhou Enlai. Other than those, the candid impressions had by the Japanese side’s delegation in their contacts with the Chinese side in these negotiations over the Memorandum Trade Agreement are as follows:

1. Zhou Enlai, while saying that he had read Mr. Matsumura’s letter, made no reference at all to the issue of the Fujiyama visit to China. However, in regard to the Fujiyama visit to China, Dietman Furui talked with Liu Xiwen and others below him on the Chinese Communist side. At that time, he defended Mr. Fujiyama, saying that although Fujiyama had served as foreign minister at Kishi’s request, he has since come to differ in his views from Kishi and was now the center of opposition to Sato. There was then, in response, the following exchange with the other side (Liu Xiwen, memorandum trade representative on the Chinese side):

Liu: Mr. Fujiyama attended the conference in Santa Barbara. Did you not go?

Furui: I had my own idea about it and did not go. (The Chinese Communist side at this point showed a very favorable expression.) However, Mr. Fujiyama probably attended thinking that the doves in the US Congress would perhaps be able to change their minds.

Liu: Mr. Fujiyama went as delegation leader, did he not?

Furui: That was because Mr. Fujiyama was the senior member. He had no other motive. 

Liu: I wonder whether there may be some other constraints on Mr. Fujiyama’s visit to China. For example, would Mr. Fujiyama specifically propose something to the Chinese side? Would he mediate between the United States and China or some such? 

Furui: He has none.

Liu: What kind of thinking would he bring with him?

Furui: It would be a solo visit. He would like to understand China.

(The above is the exchange with the Chinese Communist side. Premier Zhou’s having said at the start of the meeting, “We would welcome Mr. Matsumura visiting China in the latter half of this year” can be considered as saying that Mr. Fujiyama would not be welcomed.)

2. The Chinese Communist side criticized the Sato Government concerning the Taiwan issue and the Security Treaty, but even the Chinese Communist side understands that the Security Treaty is an issue for Japan itself. In the end, there was compromise, but in the case of the Taiwan issue the Chinese Communist side’s stance was very firm. One could say that Taiwan was the key issue.

3. The Chinese Communist side’s thinking on these negotiations seems to have been to carry out a Cultural Revolution in memorandum trade. In light of the objective situation – the movement on the part of Canada and Italy to recognize Communist China and the Chinese Communists bringing the Cultural Revolution under control – the Chinese Communist side sought to make strong political demands of us on memorandum trade. The Chinese Communists formerly had approached the Japanese side with a certain “reformism,” but it seems that they feared that it would be exploited by people such as those in the Sato Cabinet who emphasize cooperation with Taiwan and that memorandum trade would be used as an example of being able in fact to trade with the Chinese Communists in a policy of separating politics from economics. The Chinese Communists, who have gone through the baptism of the Cultural Revolution, wanted the Japanese side to clearly state their attitude.

The Chinese side said to the Japanese side: “You people are pivotal to relations between Japan and Japan. Therefore, having recognized last year the principle that politics are inseparable from economics, you now have the responsibility of taking a clear stance on the principle of the separation of politics from economics and the issue of Taiwan.” The result was that the Chinese Communist side stance, as you know, became harsh.

4. The Chinese Communists feel, in regard to movement on the part of Italy and Canada to recognize Communist China, that the Government of Japan is encouraging Taiwan’s National government. They also suspect of Japan having a greater attachment to Taiwan than the United States does.

5. The Chinese Communist side said that they wished the Japanese side to understand that the Security Treaty was a threat from their side’s point of view. In addition, they said the following:

“The United States benefits more from the Security Treaty than Japan does by having the United States protect it. Japan is used as a powerful rear base of the United States. That is a tremendous benefit. Consequently, Japan could be seen as an enemy and bombed. Furthermore, there is a Far East clause to the Security Treaty. The United States, in the name of defending Japan, can for its own sake even leave to go as far as the Philippines, China, and Taiwan. The Security Treaty cannot be considered apart from America’s string of Far East bases. A country such as China, with its Taiwan problem, cannot help but feel threatened. One cannot say that it is for the defense of Japan. If the Security Treaty were without bases or the Far East clause, like the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance or the previous Anglo-Japanese Alliance, other countries would probably have nothing to say about it.” They argued this way and further criticized Japanese militarism since the First Sino-Japanese War.

6. In regard to the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, the Chinese Communist side said, “This treaty came about in 1952 due to American pressure. Given its background, this peace treaty has nothing to do with our 700 million people or our history.” The Chinese Communist side then asked, “Do you recognize the People’s Republic of China as the sole government representing the Chinese people?” In response, the Japanese side answered, “Having come here, we have no objection to that, but it would be unconvincing for us to suddenly say such a thing immediately upon coming to China. We would be unable to obtain the support of the Japanese middle class. The perception in Japan differs from the reality, so we are having a hard time adjusting it.”

7. The Japanese side, in the face of the Chinese Communist side’s hard-line arguments, resisted as much as possible. For example, the Chinese Communist side argued for inserting the language “the Chiang Kai-shek bandit gang” and “Taiwan is China’s sacred territory,” but the Japanese side did not accept it. In addition, the Japanese side, reasoning that, “Mao Zedong, too, said that one should not turn to adventurism when there is no prospect of victory,” rejected the idea of “those involved in memorandum trade fighting the Sato government” as something that we absolutely could not say and worked to acknowledge the facts alone.

8. An exchange with the Chinese Communist side regarding 13 detained Japanese nationals was as follows:

Japanese side: In Japan, the fastest way to increasing one’s influence as a politician is to use money. As politicians with integrity, however, we will not adopt this means. Consequently, we cannot expand our influence in Japan as much as we would like, but if were able somehow to have the consideration of the Chinese Communist side and have the Sato Government indebted to us on this issue, we would be able to increase the number of those cooperating with us. We therefore ask that you please do something.

Chinese side: (Listening with a serious expression) The fact is, and this may sound a little odd, but everyone’s investigation is not finished yet. That is to say, everyone is in good health.

9. Yan Fu, who surfaced for the first time in these negotiations, was always calm, flexible in his thinking, and even when arguing did not become agitated. He was a counselor of the Chinese Communist Embassy in Norway before the Cultural Revolution and is what is known in China as an activist in foreign affairs (at one time working as a diplomat, and another time as someone involved in memorandum trade). For the time being, it seems that he will be in charge of political and diplomatic relations for memorandum trade.

10. Premier Zhou seemed very tired last year, but this time he appeared well rested. Mao Zedong, too, seen on television, seemed fine.

11. In the Chinese Communist side’s judgment of the situation (Zhou’s remark to Utsunomiya), they seem to view a breakthrough in Japan-China relations in the next two or three years as impossible. Also, in view of their concern over the conference in Santa Barbara, it seems that the Chinese Communist side does, after all, judge the United States to be the main enemy. As for the Japanese side’s wishful thinking – on the one hand continuing the Security Treaty with the United States while on the other hand seeking to improve relations with the Chinese Communists, or seeking to become a bridge between the United States and China and so on – simply hearing it seems to have annoyed the Chinese Communist side. In fact, Mr. Okazaki proposed to the Chinese Communist side, based on this way of thinking, “The United States has the intention to reach an amicable settlement with China, if only your side would agree to it.” However, his proposal was rejected: “Your thought is only to serve the United States.”

12. As one can tell from Premier Zhou’s remarks, the Chinese Communist side does not think that the content of this communique can be implemented on the Japanese side.


Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Japanese Diet member Furui Yoshimi discuss bilateral relations between China and Japan. Zhou is critical of both the Soviet Union and the United States. The two sides pay particular attention to Japan's relations with Taiwan.

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2003-469, Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs. Contributed by Yutaka Kanda and translated by Stephen Mercado.


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