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Ford’s visit to China in 1975 caused much worry in Tokyo

Kyodo

Prime Minister Takeo Miki conveyed concerns over U.S. President Gerald R. Ford’s planned visit to China in late 1975 during a meeting the month before, indicating worry that Washington was developing a closer relationship with Beijing, according to documents declassified Wednesday.

“We hope there will be no shocking consequences of the visit to China,” Miki told Ford during a meeting on the sidelines of a Group of Six — the first summit of what today is the Group of Eight leading countries — in Rambouillet, France, in November 1975, the documents show.

Ford replied that he did not expect any such consequences and said he would stop in Japan during his December 1975 trip to Asia, showing consideration for Tokyo’s concerns.

The surprise trip to China in February 1972 by Ford’s predecessor, Richard M. Nixon, in pursuit of improved U.S.-Sino relations had shocked Tokyo.

Still, the United States and China did not establish formal diplomatic relations until January 1979.

During the meeting in Rambouillet, Ford asked Miki about Japan’s textile industry.

“In Japan, there are calls for introducing import restrictions as South Korean and Hong Kong rivals with cheap labor are catching up. The situation is similar to the past Japan-U.S. relationship,” Miki said, likening it to earlier heated Japan-U.S. textile negotiations.

In those negotiations, Washington pushed Tokyo to sign a pact to curb U.S.-bound exports out of concern over the impact on U.S. mills of an influx of cheap textile products from Japan.