Section 2. Major Events of the World in 1975


The major world events of 1975 can be summarized as follows:


1. Developments in Asia and the Pacific Area

(1) The Drastic Change in the Situation in the Indochina Peninsula

In the Indochina Peninsula where the military situation had been stalemated between Government and Communist forces since 1973, the old regimes in Cambodia and South Vietnam fell in April as the result of Communist military offensives mounted since the beginning of the year. Two factors that can be cited as causing the drastic change in the situation in South Vietnam were North Vietnam's firm maintenance of its aim to realize the target of unifying Vietnam under its established policy, even after concluding the Paris Agreement (in 1973), and also the loss of military balance between South Vietnam Government forces and Communist forces which resulted from a sudden loss of interest in Indochina on the part of the people and the Congress of the United States, the latter consequently restricting aid to South Vietnam.

In August, Communist rule was established in Laos, and the countries of Indochina moved rapidly along the road to socialism. Their progress was not necessarily uniform, and the diverse nature of their respective external policies stood out in the midst of the complicated international environment.


(2) Response of Southeast Asian Countries to the New Situation

The countries of Southeast Asia responded in a variety of ways to the changes in the Asian situation in 1975, the drastic change in the Indochina situation being the climax. These responses included (i) efforts to normalize relations with the countries of Indochina, such as recognition of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam by Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia, and the normalization of relations between Thailand and Cambodia; (ii) improvement of relations with China, including the establishment of diplomatic relations with China by Thailand and the Philippines and visits to China by Burmese leaders; (iii) moves on the part of Thailand and the Philippines to review their relations with the United States; and (iv) the continued efforts of the Philippines, the only ASEAN member country that had no diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, toward the establishment of diplomatic relations with that country. A number of countries began to attach greater importance to measures for further strengthening their social and economic foundations in order to cope with the changed situation in which a unified Vietnam was about to emerge as a strong nation in Southeast Asia and to increase their own resilience as national entities. The ASEAN countries, in particular, aimed at a further strengthening of their solidarity and to this end held their first summit talks in Indonesia in February 1976.


(3) Developments in the Korean Peninsula

Although it was feared that the new situation in the Indochina Peninsula might affect the situation in the Korean Peninsula, due in part to North Korean Chairman Kim Il-song's visit to China amid the drastic change in the situation in Indochina, there was no basic change throughout 1975 and the North-South dialogue in effect remained suspended without progress. North Korea conducted active diplomatic activities in a confident manner, with emphasis on approaches to non-aligned countries. To counter the North Korean moves, the Republic of Korea also undertook a vigorous line of activities. In the U.N. debate on the Korea question, an unusual situation arose when the countries supporting the Republic of Korea and those supporting North Korea were equally matched and the resolutions presented by both sides were adopted.

Domestically, the Republic of Korea endeavored to strengthen its national defense to cope with the drastic change in the Indochina situation and Chairman Kim II-song's visit to China. The economy of the Republic of Korea began to show signs of recovery in the latter half of 1975.

North Korea was confronted with such economic difficulties as a slowdown in economic growth and a worsening of its balance of international payments throughout 1975.


(4) Policies of the United States, China and the Soviet Union toward Asia

China and the Soviet Union intensified their approaches to Asian countries after the drastic change in the Indochina situation, and the Sino-Soviet rivalry in Asia expanded further.

The United States repeatedly emphasized that its basic policy of maintaining a positive interest in Asia and strictly observing its existing commitments remained unchanged, even after the drastic change in the Indochina situation. The United States strengthened its stand of attaching great importance to its partnership with Japan. This U.S. policy toward Asia was reaffirmed by the "new Pacific doctrine" announced by President Gerald Ford in December.


(5) Situation in Oceania

In Australia and New Zealand, the Conservatives took over the reins of government from the Laborites toward the end of 1975. Both countries continued efforts to develop closer relations with the countries of Asia. In September, Papua New Guinea achieved independence, and moves aimed at gaining independence were seen in non-self-governing territories in the South Pacific.


2. Developments in Relations among the Big Powers

(1) U.S.-Soviet Relations

In U.S.-Soviet relations in 1975, the emergence of points of basic difference as well as conflicts of interests regarding specific problems were more conspicuous than was cooperation, and U.S.-Soviet relations remained rather stagnant on the whole.

Despite the expectation that the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks ( SALT-II ), which comprise the basis of U.S.-Soviet cooperation, would be concluded within 1975 on the basis of the agreement reached in the Ford-Brezhnev talks in Vladivostok toward the end of 1974, a final adjustment in the points of difference between the two sides was not reached. General Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev's planned visit to the United States was not realized in 1975.

As regards economic relations, the United States in December 1974 enacted an amendment to the Export-Import Bank Act, by which the problems of providing most-favored-nation treatment and extending credit to the Soviet Union were linked with the emigration problem of Soviet Jews. Dissatisfied with this, the Soviet Union informed the United States, in January 1975, that it would not put into effect the U.S.-Soviet Trade Agreement. Conclusion of the U.S.-Soviet long-term grain agreement, in October, was a noticeable event in the general stagnant trend of U.S.-Soviet economic relations. However, the U.S.-Soviet confrontation over the Angola problem exerted a delicate influence on SALT-II, and U.S.-Soviet relations failed to show any signs of substantial progress even after the 25th Soviet Communist Party Congress in February 1976.


(2) U.S.-China Relations

The United States and China, on the occasion of President Ford's visit to China in December, reaffirmed their intention to promote bilateral relations in accordance with the Shanghai Communique of 1972. No substantial progress was seen in their talks on the Taiwan problem throughout 1975, except that the number of American troops stationed in Taiwan continued to decline. However, it seems that factors of conflict between them have decreased as a result of the drastic change in the Indochina situation, and that there has emerged a situation in which both countries can exchange frank views on a wide range of problems of mutual concern. The U.S. attitude of attaching importance to its relations with China was also stressed by President Ford in his speech on the "new Pacific doctrine" (in December).


(3) Sino-Soviet Relations

In their bilateral relations, China and the Soviet Union maintained working relations, to a limited degree, throughout 1975 in such areas as trade and civil aviation. However, their basic conflict at party and political levels showed no signs of improving. China made clear its anti-Soviet attitude in its new Constitution and in a political report approved by the Fourth National People's Congress in January. The Soviet Union also assumed a stance of direct opposition to the Chinese attitude, and the Brezhnev report to the 25th Soviet Communist Party Congress in February 1976 severely criticized the Chinese leadership. The conflict between the two countries is not limited to merely bilateral issues, but has come to involve their relations with the United States, Europe, Japan and other countries, with both sides mutually intensifying denunciations and attempts to check each other's moves. The two countries actively approached countries in Asia and Africa in recognition of the growing importance of these countries in the arena of international politics. This has led to a conspicuous degree of competition for influence between the two countries.


(4) Domestic Situations in the United States, China and the Soviet Union

In the United States, the Ford Administration endeavored to restore the confidence of the people and Congress in the Administration in the wake of the Watergate affair. However, the implementation of its policies tended to be restricted by Congress. As regards the economic recovery which was a matter of primary concern to the American people amid the serious global recession, the U.S. economy headed toward recovery, ahead of the economies of other countries, in the second quarter of the year. Domestic politics began to move in the middle of the year toward the 1976 Presidential election and President Ford and other Presidential hopefuls gradually intensified their election activities.

In China, the Fourth National People's Congress held in January 1975 approved the new Constitution and a reshuffle of the State Council, and set forth a policy line for the modernization of the country from a long-range point of view. Later, an active campaign was conducted against the revival of revisionism, including the criticism of Shui Hu Chuan (Water Margin) and the controversy over education. The campaign developed into an organized criticism directed against "capitalist roaders," which in turn came to bead dressed to the core of the basic policy lines of the Government, following the death of Premier Chou En-lai in January 1976. This, in its turn, gave rise to a series of moves including the appointment of Hua Kuo-feng as Acting Premier in February 1976, the fall of Deputy Premier Teng Hsiao-ping, and the appointment of Hua Kuo-feng as First Vice Chairman of the Party and Premier in April. Despite such changes in the domestic situation, there was no major change in the basic policy line set by the Fourth National People's Congress.

In the Soviet Union, General Secretary Brezhnev's administration tried to further strengthen its leadership structure through the removal of Politburo member Shelepin (in April 1975). However, the Soviet economy as a whole remained stagnant as a result of the poor level of agricultural production, although the ninth five-year plan managed to achieve the lower limit of the target set for industrial production. The 25th Party Congress (held from February 24to March 5, 1976) was carefully noted because of the economic slump and also because of speculation about General Secretary Brezhnev's health. However, the Congress positively assessed the Brezhnev external policy line since the 24th Party Congress and decided that it should be continued. It also acted upon various domestic measures to help develop the Soviet economy with emphasis on agriculture.


3. Moves for Stabilization of the International Economy

(1) Problems after the Oil Crisis

The developed countries in general faced a recession accompanied by inflation in the wake of the oil crisis which occurred in the autumn of 1973. The OECD member countries posted an average minus growth of two per cent for 1975, and world trade showed an evident decrease in 1975 due to the simultaneous recession in many countries.

Terms of trade worsened for the developing countries, except some oil-producing countries, due to the effect of the economic slump in the developed countries, and the flow of development aid and private funds from the developed countries failed to increase. As a result, many developing countries were faced with serious economic difficulties and international payments problems. Against such a background, the developing countries gradually strengthened a sense of solidarity among themselves, encouraged by the marked increase in the international voice of the oil-producing countries as the result of their oil strategy, and from this endeavored to strengthen their negotiating power against the developed countries regarding primary commodities, natural resources and other issues. In this connection, proposals for anew international economic order, advantageous to the developing countries, were reaffirmed in various international forums, such as the Conference of Developing Countries on Raw Materials in Dacca in February, and the Conference of the Foreign Ministers of Non-aligned Countries in Lima in August.


(2) International Cooperation for the Solution of Difficulties

Faced with serious structural problems in the international economy, various countries recognized anew in1975 that they were mutually interdependent in the sphere of the international economy, and reconfirmed the need for international cooperation among the developed countries and also between the developed and the developing countries to solve such problems. Concrete indications of this renewed awareness of the world economic setting can be seen in the Summit Conference of Six Nations at Rambouillet (in November) comprising the major developed countries, the atmosphere of the North-South dialogue on the occasion of the Seventh Special U.N. General Assembly (in September) and the Conference on International Economic Cooperation (in December) and the OPEC countries' more discreet attitudes than before toward raising oil prices.


(3) Developed Nations' Efforts for Economic Recovery

Japan, the United States and the countries of Europe tried to stimulate their economies, partly out of recognition that the revival of their economic activity would exert a great influence on the recovery of the world economy. As a result, the economy began to recover in the United States around spring. In a few other developed countries, economic activity had also started to show signs of recovery by the end of 1975.

It can be said that the trend of the international economy toward instability since the oil crisis was stemmed and the worst was averted as the result of various efforts for international cooperation and the emergence of signs of economic recovery in the developed countries.


4. Moves for the Establishment of a New Law of the Sea

(1) Efforts have been made in recent years to establish a new legal order of the sea, amid demands from coastal countries for the extension of areas under their jurisdiction, rapid progress in technology for the development and use of ocean resources, and the growing pollution of the sea. In 1975,the third session of the Third Conference on the Law of the Sea, which was opened in late 1973 with a view to drafting a new and consolidated treaty on the law of the sea, took place in Geneva (from March until May).


(2) The Conference held informal discussions during the session, and on the last day of the session, the Conference chairman presented an informal negotiating text based on the debate. This text proposed (1) the establishment of 12-nautical mile territorial waters, an arrangement that would allow freer navigation in strait areas used for international navigation than in ordinary territorial waters and (2) the establishment of an economic zone over 200 nautical miles from shore, where the littoral state could exercise its sovereignty over fish and other natural resources. It also provided for the solution of a wide range of problems concerning the sea, including the continental shelf, the development of natural resources on the seabed and the prevention of marine pollution. Although the draft was informal, it formed the basis for debate at the fourth session (the New York spring session) of the Third Conference on the Law of the Sea in the spring of 1976 and played a major role in facilitating negotiations.


5. Developments by Region (except Asia)

(1) Western Europe

West European countries in 1975 continued to experience a very difficult economic situation carried over from the previous year. Efforts were concentrated on solving economic difficulties with attempts being made to coordinate national economic policies. Despite the economic difficulties, many European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany, maintained political stability. However, the political situation looked fluid in South European countries. In Italy, the Communists made a big gain in local elections. In Portugal, political conditions remained unclear. In Spain, a new political climate arose as the result of Generalissimo Franco's death. In U.S.-Europe relations, progress was made in coordinating respective views on international economic problems due in part to the policy of the governments of the United States and West European countries of attaching importance to U.S.-Europe relations. However, a slight difference of opinon was noted between the United States and Europe regarding ways to cope with the problem of NATO's southern flank in connection with the fluid situation in southern Europe mentioned above.


(2) East-West Relations in Europe

The holding of the summit-level Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki and its approval of the Final Acts served as a milestone in the process of easing tension in Europe. That the Soviet Union secured in the Final Act the recognition of the various countries concerned for a number of principles, including that of the inviolability of borders, was an achievement for its European diplomacy. On the other hand, the West positively approved the fact that the possibility of changing borders by peaceful means was specified and that it did obtain some concessions from the East on confidence-building measures and on the exchange of people and of information. However, the West considers that the significance of the conference depends on the implementation of matters agreed upon. In fact, the East later clarified its basic attitude, stating that there can be no detente in the field of ideology, and moved to strengthen its unity with Eastern Europe by concluding a new Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the U.S.S.R. and the German Democratic Republic and holding consultations among East European leaders. Although negotiations for Mutually Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) in Central Europe were continued, no concrete progress was made.


(3) The Middle East

The assassination of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in March1975 gave rise to a new state of tension in the Middle Eastern situation. However, Egypt and Israel concluded an agreement on the second disengagement of troops in the Sinai Peninsula (the Second Sinai Agreement) in September, amid renewed diplomatic efforts by the United States for peace in the Middle East and Egypt's approaches to the West, including the United States. The Second Sinai Agreement, together with there opening of the Suez Canal, greatly reduced the possibility of another war breaking out between Egypt and Israel. However, Syria and Israel moved no further toward opening negotiations for a second disengagement of troops in the Golan Heights. On the other hand, the Palestine problem received further attention as a key to peace in the Middle East. Although no substantial progress was made in resolving this problem in 1975, the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) international position rose through the adoption of related resolutions by the U.N. General Assembly and the invitation of the PLO to a Security Council debate on the Middle East problem. In Lebanon, the confrontation and dispute between the Christians and Moslems was further intensified as no final solution was found, and the continuing armed clashes added to the instability of the Middle Eastern situation.


(4) Africa

In Africa, the moves toward gaining independence on the part of non-self-governing territories, which had begun in 1974, continued in 1975. Mozambique, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe achieved independence from Portugal, and the French Comoros unilaterally declared its independence. In West Sahara, Morocco and Mauritania each claimed sovereignty to the area, as a result of which these two countries and Spain concluded a tripartite agreement. However, Polisario, a national liberation organization in West Sahara, declared the independence of the area in February1976, and the confrontation among the countries concerned over title to the area continues.

In Angola, where Portuguese rule ended (in November), two liberation movement groups, ie, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the coalition of the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), issued declarations of independence, each claiming to be the nation's government. In the civil war that ensued, the MPLA brought most of Angola under its control in February1976, and many countries came to recognize the MPLA as the national government, thereby bringing the civil war to an end. Both the African countries which feared intervention by major powers, and the United States and the countries of Europe, which were watching the moves of the Soviet Union, were not a little shocked by the fact that the MPLA received strong support from the Soviet Union and Cuba. The South African Government continued its efforts throughout 1975 to ease tensions with other African countries, while the moves of the  white regime in Southern Rhodesia toward having talks with black liberation organizations failed to achieve the expected results.


(5) Central and South America

Central and South American countries have tried in recent years to achieve economic independence and move away from their excessive dependence on the United States, a trend which continued in 1975. The establishment in October of the Latin American Economic System (Sistema Economico de America Latina-SELA), an organization for regional cooperation which includes Cuba but excludes the United States, was one such effort. The new dialogue policy of the United States was suspended because of the objections raised by Central and South American countries to the new Trade Act of the United States in early 1975. In February 1976, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited six Central and South American countries to seek new relations with those countries. The political situation in Central and South American countries generally was quiet, although there were changes of government in Peru and Ecuador and political instability in Argentina (where a military administration was reinstated in a coup d'etat in March 1976).


6. Increased Influence of Developing Countries in the United Nations

 The developing countries account for an overwhelming majority of all U.N. member nations, and their tendency to act as a group of non-aligned countries, or the Group of 77, to demonstrate their numerical strength in such forums as the U.N. General Assembly became more conspicuous in 1975. The adoption of a resolution criticizing Zionism despite strong opposition from the United States and the countries of Europe can be regarded as an event symbolic of the growing political voice of the developing countries.

Amid the growth of their influence, however, members of the non-aligned group revealed that they were not of the same opinion regarding certain problems. Their dialogue with the developed countries progressed gradually as was seen on the occasion of the Seventh Special General Assembly.


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