September 4, 1969
Record of Meeting between Minister Aichi and Premier Kosygin
This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)
Record of Meeting between Minister Aichi and Premier Kosygin
Date and time: September 4, 1969, 18:00 to 19:30
Location: Premier’s office, inside the Kremlin
Those attending the meeting:
European and Oceanic Affairs Director-General Arita
Desk Officer Nishida (interpreter)
Desk Officer Namba (recorder)
First Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov
Far East Department Director Likhachev
Chief Secretary Zemskov
Press Department Deputy Director Marchuk
Far East Department Member Chizhov (interpreter)
Minister Aichi: (after greetings)
I am deeply grateful, Premier Kosygin, that Your Excellency, so busy on account of the passing of the North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, has taken the time to meet us.
Premier Kosygin: I am leaving tomorrow for Hanoi. That is in order to attend the funeral of President Ho Chi Minh. It had been my intent to meet you tomorrow, Minister, but since I can no longer meet you tomorrow, I decided to meet you today and looked all over Moscow for you. Moscow, too, is a large place, so I thought that it would be hard, but I was able to find you right away. If it were Tokyo, perhaps it would not be possible to find you so easily.
Minister Aichi: I am well behaved, so my whereabouts are immediately known. Truly, I am grateful for your invitation. Last night, hearing that an urgent affair had arisen, I was wondering what to do, but I am happy to be able to meet you like this today.
Premier Kosygin: In fact, I may have to leave today, but I asked them to convey before then the situation to you, Minister. Ho Chi Minh is not only a president but a friend of the Soviet Union and someone whom I have known personally for more than 10 years, so I very much wish to attend the funeral.
Minister Aichi: Relations between your country and Japan have recently been progressively improving. I am happy knowing that this is due to everyone’s efforts. Frankly speaking, we would like to conclude at this point a peace treaty and further advance Japanese-Soviet relations. In order to do that, we have long thought that we must resolve without delay the issue of the Northern Territories. This is the heartfelt desire of all the Japanese people and certainly not the opinion of some of them. I really want to make this happen. [TN: The final part of page 3 is blacked out.]
[TN: The first half of page 4 is blacked out.] I would like us, in considering the development of Japanese-Soviet relations and the future of the world, to take a broad perspective on this.
One more thing I would like to raise is, in our relations with the United States, I think that we will probably have the outline of an agreement in November on the issue of Okinawa’s reversion. Later I intend to go to Washington and bring the talks to a conclusion.
In such circumstances, I think that resolving the issue of the Northern Territories would be beneficial for strengthening the confidence of the Japanese people in the Soviet Union, as well as for the further advance of Japanese-Soviet relations and the development of world peace.
Premier Kosygin: To speak of our position on Japan, it is as follows.
We would like to develop relations with Japan as much as possible. The Soviet people have respect for the Japanese people and are well aware that in Japan there are taking place creative developments in industry, the economy, culture, and various other fields.
Looking at the history of Japanese-Soviet relations, there has been a state of war several times. Those were before the Revolution, at the time of the Civil War, and then this last one, as well as clashes in the Nomonhan Incident and such. However, even so, the Soviet people have affection and deep respect for the Japanese people, and they hope for development of the economy and other fields in Japan as well as for the further advancement of relations between our two countries.
As we understand it, such wars were not started by the Soviet Union. We think that they were due to Japan’s efforts to expand its territory. Looking at Japan’s domestic situation at that time, in spite of Japan’s having occupied much territory, the Japanese people lived poorly. At that time Japan was devoting all its efforts to war, so the economy had come under stress and the people had become poor.
In today’s Japan, the economy has developed and the people are living well. Japan is developing not a military industry but a peace industry, and life is improving for the Japanese people.
The Second World War produced as many as 50 million casualties. Those were horrible losses.
[TN: The last part of page 7 is blacked out.]
The next two pages are not disclosed.
[TN: Pages 8 and 9 are omitted.]
Last month, on August 9, there was an incident of a Japanese fishing boat in waters off the coast of Hokkaido sinking in a collision with a Soviet patrol ship, with the loss of 11 Japanese fishermen. The Soviet side notified our country of this incident three weeks after it took place. This has become a major issue in Japan. That such an issue could arise is because we still have not found a resolution to the problem of safe operations in relation to the territorial issue. I am planning to talk about this problem of safe operations in meetings from tomorrow with other dignitaries but, Premier Kosygin, I would like to ask you, too, from a broad perspective, to resolve these problems in order for the Soviet Union to win the hearts of Japan’s one hundred million people as well as to advance Japanese-Soviet cooperation in Siberia and to develop relations between our two countries. At the risk of seeming too persistent, I would like you to undertake this as a great statesman.
Premier Kosygin: [The initial paragraph of the statement that starts from the first line of page 11 is blacked out.]
However, we cannot allow violations of our territorial waters. I would like the Japanese side to take measures to eliminate these violations of our territorial waters. According to reports that I have received, the number of violations from the Japanese side of our territorial waters has recently been increasing and the situation is increasingly intense. This problem is one that we must resolve calmly by talking to one another. The Soviet side, in the past, in response to requests of the Japanese side, released four or five times all at once the Japanese fisherman then in detention. Recently, however, the violations of Soviet territorial waters by Japanese fishermen have been on a large scale. They have not been taking place by accident; they are being done deliberately. We expect the Japanese to take appropriate measures.
[TN: The final lines of page 11 are blacked out.]
[TN: The first line of page 12 is blacked out.]
Minister Aichi: [Part of the first paragraph of the statement is blacked out.] In regard to this problem, as I just said, I would like you to take note of the fact that 11 lives were recently lost. I would like to see this problem resolved so that we do not repeat such an incident.
Premier Kosygin: I would like to state frankly here my opinion. In fact, the Soviet side has started recently to worry a little. I will give instructions for the study of the Japanese side’s proposal concerning the problem of safe operations. Let us consider some sort of regulation to end such conflict. Still, five months ago, one year ago, there was no such conflict. (Embassy note: What Premier Kosygin meant here is somewhat unclear. Perhaps Premier Kosygin had not received reporting concerning the sinking of the Fukuju Maru No. 13.) The Soviet people have been writing letters to their government on this point, asking why, at the same time, as it were, that border incidents between China and the Soviet Union have been taking place, that conflicts like that are occurring with Japan. I would like you, as foreign minister, to direct your attention to this point. Perhaps there are people in Japan who are interested in making relations between Japan and the Soviet Union worse at a time when border incidents between China and the Soviet Union are taking place.
Minister Aichi: That is a complete misunderstanding. Postwar Japan learned to its cost the lessons of prewar Japan and is determined not to repeat such an experience again. For example, in regard to the nuclear issue, we will adhere thoroughly, whatever the case may be, to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. We have no intention of sending troops overseas. In this sense, the recent editorial in Izvestia and such suggesting a revival of revanchism and militarism in our country is a complete misunderstanding.
I would like you to better understand the reality of Japan. In this sense, I would like to continue with the Japanese-Soviet Foreign Ministers’ Regular Talks, arranged at great effort. Now it is the turn for your country’s foreign minister to come to Japan, so please send the foreign minister to Japan. I would like that opportunity for a full exchange of views and to have him take a thorough look at Japan.
I am personally close to Ambassador Troyanovsky, who is present here, and I am constantly exchanging views with him. The Ambassador is doing his utmost for the development of Japanese-Soviet relations. In this way, I would like to continue to strive to eliminate misunderstandings and deepen mutual understanding.
Premier Kosygin: I did not necessarily speak from a convincing basis but simply said what I was thinking in a straightforward way. Therefore, I would like you not to announce this to the press.
However, we must eliminate such conflict. This sort of conflict did not exist in the past but recently has begun happening. I do not think it possible to declare that there are no forces in Japan who hope for tensions. Perhaps, Minister, you are not aware of them.
Minister Aichi: There is no such thing. Or, at least, such forces have no influence in Japan.
Premier Kosygin: I want them to be without influence.
Minister Aichi: We are conducting here a frank exchange of views. I, too, am aware that some things are good to announce and that some are bad.
Premier Kosygin: And there are some people who distort the facts in communicating them.
Minister Aichi: I definitely would like to see the Regular Talks realized. I will make this request of Foreign Minister Gromyko and First Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov as well, but I would also like Your Excellency, Premier, to take note of it.
Premier Kosygin: (After questioning Ambassador Troyanovsky on the situation’s development) Let us arrange to make this happen. We seem to be running a little behind schedule, but let us try not to be too late. There are even those who miss the train. I cannot decide now clearly on a time, but let us make this happen.
Minister Aichi: I thank the Soviet side for strongly supporting next year’s Expo in Osaka. In this connection, I am sorry that our talk is coming to an end, but I would like Your Excellency, Premier Kosygin, to come to Japan for the Expo.
Premier Kosygin: As for the Expo, Podgorny has received a formal invitation and is actively considering visiting Japan, so it will probably be Podgorny who will visit Japan.
Minister Aichi: We welcome Your Excellency, Premier Kosygin, to visit Japan for the Expo.
Premier Kosygin: If many of us went at once, it would surely surprise people.
Minister Aichi: I believe that it would show how good Japanese-Soviet relations are.
Premier Kosygin: How about Prime Minister Sato visiting the Soviet Union? The invitation to Prime Minister Sato to visit the Soviet Union still stands. How would it be if Prime Minister Sato visited the Soviet Union in exchange for Podgorny visiting Japan?
The Soviet Union wishes success for next year’s Expo. The Soviet Union will make every effort for its success. Because we regard this Expo as important, we will send Podgorny to Japan.
Minister Aichi: The Soviet Pavilion is very impressive.
Premier Kosygin: The Soviet side would also like to exhibit as many items as possible. The Expo, in this sense, would be useful in the development of the economy. We are grateful for the Japanese side’s cooperation on such issues as the Soviet Pavilion’s site and construction. Soviet architectural specialists, too, have said that the Soviet Pavilion is very well done.
Minister Aichi: In next year’s Expo, there will be more than 70 countries participating. I believe that it will be a world first on this scale. There seems to be many tourists around the world these days.
Premier Kosygin: I hear that Aeroflot is also preparing joint undertakings with Japanese airlines to transport as many customers as possible to the Expo and, in order to do so, is now negotiating with Japanese airlines. In all probability, some 10 million people are likely to visit the Expo.
Minister Aichi: Thank you for the unexpectedly long meeting, and this in spite of how busy you are, in particular with the passing of President Ho Chi Minh…... [TN: ellipse in the original]
Premier Kosygin: I have a question. I would like to start work on putting together a trade agreement for 1971 to 1975 for the mutual benefit of the Japanese and Soviet sides in the economic development of our two countries. What do you think about that? The Soviet side is ready to carry out negotiations for this agreement. There would be many interesting and important issues in putting together this five-year agreement. These issues would benefit both sides. The Soviet side is ready to further develop friendly relations between Japan and the Soviet Union. We are ready to improve relations in both the economic and the political areas.
Minister Aichi: The Japanese side is putting together a plan to make the 1970s a new era of economic cooperation. I would like to study the Soviet proposal from this viewpoint.
I have a question concerning this issue. The Soviet Union is now proposing a so-called Asian security concept, but is there a positive concept of economic cooperation in this?
Premier Kosygin: The issue of Asian security now has a particularly important significance. This concept aims for a relaxation of tensions in Asia by doing away with the use of force. In the event any country were invaded, the other countries would join together to aid the invaded country. In other words, I believe that it would prevent invasion and contribute to peace.
I think that we should carry out arms reduction, reduce the military budget, and put the surplus funds into the economy. In Asia there are countries that have recently been advancing economically. Of course, Japan is first among them but, for example, India has a complicated domestic political situation but has been showing a certain degree of progress economically. We would like to join forces for peace.
Minister Aichi: Japan is also putting effort into economic cooperation and technological cooperation.
Premier Kosygin: If we carefully consider the problem of Asian security, some solution may be found for ridding the peoples of Asia of war.
Nuclear non-proliferation has now become an important issue. The Soviet Union will soon ratify this treaty. Truthfully, I do not understand why Japan does not to sign this treaty. Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered atomic bombing. Japan should best understand this issue.
There has repeatedly been provocative reporting recently in Western Europe that the Soviet Union is planning war against the Chinese Communists, but that is a complete fabrication. The Soviet Union defends itself, but we will absolutely not attack from here the Chinese Communists. The Soviet Union does not want war. Relations between China and the Soviet Union are tense, but the Soviet Union would like to resolve the issues with the Chinese Communists by discussions.
Minister Aichi: Japan, if so desired, can acquire nuclear arms. However, the Japanese people are determined not to do this. Therefore, I would like you to understand the Japanese side’s thinking in regard to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
I can well understand the Soviet Union’s thinking in regard to war and its thorough pacifism. The Japanese side hopes that the Sino-Soviet conflict does not turn in an undesirable direction. We adopt a position of strict neutrality and earnestly desire a peaceful resolution to the Sino-Soviet issue.
Premier Kosygin: In regard to armed conflict breaking out in this region, I think that the Japanese side is no less concerned than is the Soviet side. Therefore, the Japanese side must fight against any aggressor so that tensions in Asia do not worsen. I think that uniting our efforts on this point is an important task.
Minister Aichi: Thank you very much for taking such a long time with us today.
Premier Kosygin: (In the middle of the farewells) Please give my regards to Prime Minister Sato.
Japanese Foreign Minister Aichi and Soviet Premier Kosygin discuss bilateral relations, disputed territories, the legacies of World War II, China, and the NPT.
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].