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April 18, 1964

Transcript of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Kenzo Matsumura

This document was made possible with support from Chun & Jane Chiu Family Foundation



(APRIL 18, 1964)


Premier Zhou Enlai (hereafter shortened to Zhou):  I hear that both sides have pretty much finished with discussing specific issues.  I’d like to talk with you about issues going forward from a broader perspective.


Matsumura Kenzo (hereafter shortened to Matsumura):  From the time we arrived in Beijing up to the present, we’ve engaged in frank and friendly discussions with our Chinese friends.  We’ve already largely settled some specific issues, which is certainly something we are happy about.  These past few days I’ve been enjoying myself sightseeing.  However, other friends in our delegation have been engaged in diplomatic-like negotiations with Mr. Sun Pinghua and Mr. Wang Xiaoyun*[2]*, and after vehement debate, they have reached an agreement.  Therefore, I think these agreements ought to be solid and reliable.  


Zhou:  It’s good to debate issues thoroughly, not only for diplomatic matters, but for other business as well.  Political debates are inevitable.


Matsumura:  Mr. Okazaki Kaheita took over responsibility from Mr. Takasaki Tatsunosuke*[3]** for the work of the Takasaki office, and I hope you will look after him in the future.


Zhou:  We hope that Mr. Okazaki will continue to cooperate with us.  I recall how Mr. Okazaki accompanied Mr. Takasaki on his visit two years ago, and also visited last year, so Mr. Okazaki already has had the experience of working with us twice.  The issue of a [representative] office will for sure be a little complicated and troublesome.  The principle is settled but actualizing it is complicated.  The principles which Liao Chengzhi and Takasaki Tatsunosuke agreed to need to be put into practice.  Many problems can come up.


I want to talk about some of the issues that came up in Mr. Matsumura and Professor Nagai Michio’s*[4] conversation, that is, how to move forward.   I saw in the April issue of “World Affairs” a Chinese translation of their dialogue, which relates to the issues I want to discuss.  For sure, these are some existing problems in Sino-Japanese bilateral relations.  

I believe that, whether we talk about advancing bilateral relations, preserving peace in the Far East, advancing Afro-Asian unity and world peace, first of all we have to consider the two countries own interests, and only then can we look at it from a global perspective.

In the fifteen years since China’s liberation, we have adopted a position of independence and self-reliance, and implemented foreign and domestic policies that are not only suited to the interests of the Chinese people, but which are also suited to the interests of the people of the world.  Among the friends present here, some who have visited China many times.  Can you find any specific examples in China’s foreign or domestic policies which indicates that we’re ordered around by, controlled by or dependent on someone else, behaving like someone’s satellite instead of an independent country?  If so, I’d like to learn about them.


Okazaki:  None.


Matsumura:  I have never thought that way.  Ever since liberation China has adopted completely independent policies, a point which I am well aware of, one could even say that China has been overly insistent on being independent.  


Zhou:  If we had not held firmly to an independent and self-reliant position, then we would have turned into a satellite country, a subordinate at the beck and call of imperialism.  Therefore, we cannot weaken our resolve to be independent and self-reliant.  By being “too independent,” does Mr. Matsumura mean to say that we want to isolate ourselves and refuse to cooperate with others?


Matsumura:  Exactly what I meant.  What I’m thinking is, Japan adopted the wrong policies, started a war, the result being Japan’s defeat and subsequent collapse, bringing about independence for all the Asian countries.  I hope that these oppressed countries will achieve independence, and become flourishing, prosperous countries.  I believe that independence, prosperity and world peace are meaningful only when linked together.  


Zhou:  I have a somewhat different view from what Mr. Matsumura said.  Mr. Matsumura mentioned that Japan collapsed, but I don’t think that Japan has collapsed, it was Japanese militarism that collapsed, but that the Japanese people can now achieve independence and development according to their own will.  


Matsumura:  That’s what I think too.  It was Japanese militarism that was destroyed.  Militarism caused the Japanese people much suffering and sacrifice, to the extent that at one point there was nothing to eat.  Our hard work in the twenty years since the collapse of militarism has enabled us to reach the point where we are today.  


Zhou:  The scourge of war was created by militarism.  The Japanese people and the Chinese people both endured hardship from it.  But the crimes of militarism also taught the people to rise up against militarism, oppose aggressive war, and oppose having it imposed on the people.  


As for the question that Mr. Matsumura just raised, whether China could be too independent, my view is, independence does not exclude cooperation.  At present, no country can be fully isolated.  True independence does not exclude international cooperation, that is, cooperation with truly friendly countries.  The year before last, when Messrs. Matsumura and Ishibashi*[5] visited, I also spoke about our policy of independence and self-reliance.  Our policy is like this: with any country that is friendly towards us, we will reciprocate with even more friendliness; with anyone hostile towards us, we will push back with the same attitude and oppose them.  That is to say, in advancing friendship, we take the initiative to proactively get along well with others in a friendly manner; if [others] are hostile to us, we will push back, but we won’t initiate hostility – that is our principle.  We have two sentences to describe this principle, that is: friendship comes first, resistance comes later.  For the people of every country, this policy of ours doesn’t cause any problems.  That’s because the vast majority of people want to be friendly towards us, it is only a very small handful who are hostile towards us. Of course, the reactionaries will try to create a hostile atmosphere against us, and a minority of people will be influenced by that.  Regardless of color skin, race, or religious beliefs, people ought to be friendly towards each other. Even with Japan, which was hostile and engaged in war with us, after the war we took the initiative to offer the hand of friendship, which the Japanese people accepted, and [we] developed friendly relations.  This is a good thing, which proves that we can treat each other in a friendly manner.  We are the same way towards the American people, we have always expressed our desire for friendship with the American people.  I think that the vast majority of the American people also wish for friendship with China, although under the circumstances, at present it isn’t easy for the American people to express their wish.


Currently, every day there are more countries that have thrown off domination by imperialism and become independent.  Half of the countries in the world are Afro-Asian countries, and there are some African countries that have yet to become independent, if they are independent, then the Afro-Asian countries will exceed one-half.  Nine years ago, only a little over twenty countries participated in the First Afro-Asian Meeting, but this year, there are already twenty-two countries participating in this year’s preparatory meeting in Jakarta for the Second Afro-Asian Meeting, and it’s estimated that when next year’s Second Afro-Asian Meeting formally takes place, there won’t only be around twenty countries participating, but many more.  These countries fundamentally want friendly cooperation. Of course, this isn’t to say that these countries all have the same social systems, or that there are no conflicts.  There may be conflict, but overall we say it’s possible to seek common ground despite differences.  For national independence, to build up their own countries, to oppose wars of aggression and maintain world peace, these countries must always carry out friendly cooperation.  This doesn’t just apply to Afro-Asian countries, but to the countries of Latin America, North America, Europe, and Australia as well.  Among these countries, some are socialist, some follow American imperialism, some are developed capitalist countries.  Socialist countries of course wish for world peace, but even these latter countries also want to preserve world peace.  It’s only a few imperialist countries that want to use war to threaten people, are hostile to the people in the world, attempt to maintain their existing rule, or regain control of the world.  Nevertheless, the current key point is that these few countries have powerful militaries, they use nuclear weapons to frighten people and they want to control the world. On the surface, they seem very powerful, but we should look past the surface to see their real nature.  The overwhelming majority of countries want peace and friendship and oppose oppression and wars of aggression.


China stands against these few countries using war and nuclear weapons to blackmail and bully the people of the world and has shown the spirit of independence and resistance.  China opposes the aggressive war policies of imperialism on behalf of the interests of the vast majority of the world’s people.  On this question, Mr. Matsumura doesn’t need to worry that China’s independent spirit will be too strong and that it will make fall out with the U.S. and bring on a world war in Asia. China has always had the spirit to oppose imperialism’s aggressive war. We suffered over a hundred years of oppression, and profoundly understand not only our own need to throw off imperialist oppression, but the need of the people of the whole world, including the people of Japan, to throw off imperialist oppression. We will endeavor towards that end.  This calls for resolutely resisting the most stubborn imperialists, the forces of war which may appear to be strong but are in fact extremely weak.  That is to say, the United States.  We must push them back.  We shouldn’t think that their nuclear weapons are so extraordinary.  The people of the world want peace, oppose wars of aggression, the great majority of countries want peace and friendship, oppose nuclear war, and even the American people don’t want war. If the U.S. dares to start a war, then it will be the U.S. that will fail.


If the Afro-Asian countries unite, how would the U.S. dare to start a world war in the Afro-Asian region?  Mr. Matsumura just mentioned how the Japanese people suffered greatly in the Second World War, and I don’t believe that the Japanese people who have suffered that way would fight for the U.S. if it started a third world war.  Maybe a few people would want to fight, but the vast majority will not pull America’s chestnuts out of the fire.  Do the American people want to wage war? On this the U.S. government knows very well: the American people don’t want to go to war.


Chiang Kai-shek [Jiang Jieshi] wants to drag the U.S. into the water in a futile attempt to retake the mainland.  Practically speaking, the U.S. is not in favor of an attack on the mainland.  The U.S. has warned Chiang Kai-shek not to make trouble; if Chiang Kai-shek makes trouble, the U.S. will not be willing to join the war. Recently, Rusk went to Taiwan but nothing came of his talks.  Chiang Kai-shek wants the U.S. to provide him with ships and weapons, but the U.S. knows that this would be to drag the U.S. into the water, so the U.S. won’t do it.  The U.S. has a different calculation, it wants Chiang Kai-shek to send his elite troops to Vietnam to interfere in Vietnam’s internal affairs, joining the war to suppress the South Vietnamese people.  The U.S. doesn’t want to send its own people to die in Vietnam, since every time someone dies the dead person’s family will be upset and say that it wasn’t worth sending them to die.  Chiang Kai-shek knows what the U.S. has in mind, so he won’t do it, either.  This is because once his elite troops suffer losses in Vietnam, the U.S. can replace him on Taiwan.  Chiang Kai-shek understands that once his main troops are gone, he would end up like Syngman Rhee or Ngo Dinh Diem.  Given this situation, where the U.S. can’t even successfully take South Vietnam, so how can it start a world war in Asia?


Recently, the SEATO countries held a meeting in Manila, a meeting in which nothing whatsoever was achieved, though they still issued a joint communique.  What sort of joint communique?  It was the least joint of joint communiques.  In the communique it actually stated that France and the U.S. had different views.  There were myriad different views at the meeting, yet Rusk made a fool of himself saying that despite the differing views they could still take action.  On this point, I have to admire the perspicacity of the Japanese journalists, who said that the usefulness of SEATO is diminishing day by day.  At the Manila meeting, the Philippine delegation was the loudest in its disapproval of France recognizing New China.  However, the delegation that the Philippines sent to the Jakarta preparatory meeting for the Second Afro-Asian meeting had a different attitude.  Their delegation head embraced [PRC Foreign Minister] Chen Yi, celebrating the success of the Afro-Asian meeting preparatory meeting.  What does this tell us?  It tells us that the SEATO that the U.S. relies on is unreliable.  Under such circumstances, how can the U.S. dare to start a world war in Asia?  China understands and sees this situation clearly.  The U.S. is definitely not frightening, this is not something we said after the fact, twenty years ago Chairman Mao had already said that the U.S. was a paper tiger, nothing to be frightened of.


Our friends here may be worried that, because China’s independent spirit is so strong, it might cause unrest in Asia?  I think that our Japanese friends understand the U.S. best.  For the past ten years most of the visitors we’ve had were Japanese friends.  Over several decades, around three or four thousand Japanese women have taken Chinese citizenship, they have already become members of our peaceful family.  They understand very well that China needs a peaceful environment in order to build up its own country and wants to live in peace with all the peace-loving countries in the world.  The reality of Sino-Japanese relations proves this point.  The Japanese government recognizes Chiang Kai-shek as representing China, doesn’t recognize us as representing China.  If you look at this issue from a formal perspective, your government is hostile towards us, nevertheless, we have still invited you.  We have already been together for six or seven years.  We see you as friends, we don’t see you as enemies.  We need to see past the surface to the reality.  The Japanese people want to be friends with China.  The ruling party in Japan and the majority of people in the Japanese government hope to restore bilateral relations, although it isn’t yet possible to realize formal relations, since for the present you still maintain the posture of recognizing Taiwan as the government representing China.  You represent the majority in Japan’s governing party and government.  Doesn’t the replacement of Kishi Nobusuke by the Ikeda government represent this trend?  What does Mr. Matsumura think of my evaluation of the situation?


Matsumura:  I’d say that the situation is basically as you have described.  On just one point, I hope you will forgive me.  Because we are members of the “free world” camp, our situation is different from that of your honorable country; to present an issue for discussion to the Diet involves a lot of trouble.  Nevertheless, I believe that the situation to which you referred will eventually occur, and we are working hard to realize it.


Zhou:  Exactly because Japan’s political system is a capitalist system, we therefore don’t look at the surface but rather look at the reality.  If we only look at the form, at the surface, Taiwan has an Embassy in Tokyo, so why are we still unable send our representatives?  Because the Taiwan Embassy in Tokyo is a temporary phenomenon, and eventually, one day, Chiang Kai-shek’s Embassy in Tokyo will be replaced by an Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. This is the wish of the majority of Japanese people.  As I said the last time we spoke, we support using cumulative steps to improve Sino-Japanese relations and work hard to establish Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations.


* This is an excerpt from a transcript of a discussion with a delegation of Japanese guests led by Liberal Democratic Party advisor and Diet member Matsumura Kenzo.  During this visit by the Matsumura delegation, the two sides reached an agreement for an exchange of non-governmental resident offices and resident journalists.

** Sun Pinghua (1917-1997) and Wang Xiaoyun (1920-1983), CCP Japan experts; Sun was first head of PRC liaison office in Tokyo, Wang also served as Ambassador to Japan.

*** Okazaki Kaheita (1897-1989), Japanese businessman.  Takasaki Tatsunosuke (1885-1964), businessman and politician; worked in Manchukuo, served as MITI Minister in Kishi cabinet, negotiated first Japan-PRC trade agreement.

* Nagai Michio (1923-2000), Japanese sociologist and University administrator.

* Ishibashi Tanzan (1884-1973), Japanese journalist and politician, Prime Minister 1956-57.

Zhou Enlai speaks with the spokesman for Japan's conservative party, Kenzo Matsumura. The two sides reached an agreement on the mutual establishment of non-governmental resident offices and the exchange of resident journalists. Zhou also discusses China's stance on the Taiwan issue. Both sides agree to work together toward normalization of Sino-Japanese relations.

Document Information


Zhou Enlai Waijiao wenxuan [Selected Diplomatic Papers of Zhou Enlai] (Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian, 1990), pp. 403-411. Translated by Simon Schuchat.


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