• Kyodo

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U.S. President Richard Nixon sent a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in spring 1971 expressing frustration over bilateral textile talks, according to a Japanese diplomatic document declassified Thursday.

In the letter dated March 12, 1971, Nixon said when the leaders met in October 1970 he thought the two nations were going to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, but they failed to do so after a long period of negotiations.

On March 8, 1971, a group of Japanese textile makers announced that regulation of U.S.-bound exports would be self-imposed. Surprised to see such a move and the Japanese government’s statement welcoming it, Nixon conveyed the United States’ intention to terminate the bilateral negotiations and said he would call on Congress to enact legislation to control textile imports from Japan.

While the existence of the Nixon letter was already known through Sato’s published diary and declassified U.S. diplomatic records, the document from Japan underlined that bilateral relations were at one of the lowest points in postwar history.

Nixon’s distrust of Sato apparently triggered confusion in Japan following two events known as the Nixon shocks in summer 1971, his detente with China and the unilateral cancellation of the direct convertibility of the U.S. dollar to gold.

The Nixon administration made the moves without notifying Japan in advance.

Japan and the United States finally reached a basic agreement on the textile issue in October 1971.

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