1. Outline


(1) In 1979 there were some drastic changes in the world situation, particularly in Indochina and the Middle East. Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union grew increasingly antagonistic. On the other hand, there was no improvement in Sino-Soviet relations, and China assumed a firmer pro-Western attitude. Under this situation, Western democracies endeavored to strengthen cooperative relations among themselves.


(2) In Indochina, backed by the armed intervention by the Vietnamese, the regime under Heng Samrin announced the establishment of the "People's Republic of Kampuchea" at the beginning of the year. This was followed by China's military operations against Vietnam. These disturbances in Indochina have greatly affected Asian nations, especially the ASEAN countries. In the Middle East, establishment of an Islamic republic in Iran after a revolution, and seizure of the United States Embassy in Iran by Islamic militants taking the embassy staff as hostages drastically aggravated U.S.-Iran relations. This created new destabilizing factors in the Middle East and seriously affected the energy situation. Furthermore, armed intervention by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan towards the end of 1979 gravely affected East-West relations, and deepened suspicions entertained by Western nations about the recent military buildup by the Soviet Union and the motives behind it. This Soviet action also shocked the Third World, mainly non-aligned nations. In the Republic of Korea, President Park Chung Hee who had been in power for 18 years was assassinated. This incident implied major changes in internal affairs of the Republic of Korea, and attracted the attention of the world afresh to the situation in the Korean Peninsula.


(3) Between the United States and the Soviet Union, the second Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) were concluded and a treaty was signed. Between China and the Soviet Union, in the wake of notification by China that it would not renew the China-Soviet alliance treaty, negotiations were started to mend the relations between the two countries. However, the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan produced such reactions in the United States as suspension of deliberation for ratification of the SALT II Treaty in the United States Congress, and U.S.-Soviet relations retrogressed in a large measure. The negotiations between China and the Soviet Union for improvement of Sino-Soviet relations were also broken off. Meanwhile, China normalized diplomatic relations with the United States at the beginning of the year, and VIPs of the two countries actively exchanged visits. The first Chinese premier to make a formal tour of Western Europe, Premier Hua Guofeng, visited France, West Germany, the U.K. and Italy, and continued efforts to improve relations with Western countries. Among Western industrial nations, mainly the United States, Western European countries and Japan, the necessity to strengthen harmonious and cooperative relations among themselves was keenly recognized over the problems related to Iran and Afghanistan. The NATO countries agreed on a theater nuclear weapons modernization program and reaffirmed a policy of having negotiations conducted between the United States and the Soviet Union for a reduction in theater nuclear weapons.


2. Trends in the United States, China, the Soviet Union and Countries of Western Europe


(1) External Relations


A. The United States

Since the seizure of the American hostages in Iran in November and the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, the foreign relations of the United States have been marked with re-formulation of policies toward countries of the Middle East, the Gulf area and the Soviet Union to cope with problems concerning these areas, and strengthening of solidarity with allied and friendly nations. To look back on 1979, in Asia, the United States continued to place its relations with Japan at the center of its Asian policy, while achieving normalization of diplomatic relations with China at the beginning of the year and developing relations at working level. Toward the Republic of Korea, it reaffirmed that there would be no change in its defense program involving Korea after the death of President Park.

For peace in the Middle East, President Jimmy Carter in person visited Egypt and Israel in March, and the United States has continued the mediation efforts it has been making since the Camp David accord. The seizure of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran resulted in a break of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran. The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan also brought greater tension to the situation in the Gulf area. President Carter took the hard-line attitude that the United States would repulse by any means any power that might try to dominate this area by force.

At the U.S.-Soviet summit talks in June, the long-pending SALT II Treaty was signed. Practical settlement through talks was also sought on the question of the Soviet ground combat troops being deployed in Cuba, which became an issue in the summer. However, on the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, the United States assumed a firm attitude, indicating that it could not maintain normal relations with the Soviet Union as long as this invasion continued. As a result, the deliberation in the U.S. Senate for ratification of the SALT II Treaty was postponed, and U.S.-Soviet relations retrogressed greatly. At the same time the United States set forth emphatically its intention to attach greater importance to solidarity with allied and friendly nations. Just prior to the Tokyo summit of industrialized countries, President Carter visited Japan for bilateral talks.


B. The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

Since 1978 the Soviet Union has been sometimes put on the defensive in its international environment, especially in its relations with the United States, China and the countries of Western Europe. In 1979, the Soviet Union continued to show its policy in the "detente policy", signing the SALT II Treaty in June and announcing in October withdrawal of a part of the Soviet troops stationed in East Germany. As Sino-Vietnam relations worsened further, the Soviet Union backed up Vietnam wholeheartedly, and strengthened its foothold in Indochina. Later, while the NATO countries agreed on a theater nuclear weapons modernization program and U.S.-Iran relations grew serious, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan by military force. This action made the Western nations deeply distrustful of the Soviet Union, and it incurred severe international rebuke and countermeasures, because it was regarded as an action likely to destroy East-West relations based on detente.

The countries of Eastern Europe showed subtle differences in their reactions to the above-mentioned developments, particularly to the establishment of the Karmal regime in Afghanistan. For energy sources they mainly depend on the Soviet Union, and the impact of the world-wide oil crisis is seriously felt by these countries as well. However, except for Romania, their unity with the Soviet Union has been maintained in principle. Poland, for one, cooperated with the Soviet "peace offensive" by making efforts to realize a European disarmament conference and a European communist conference.


C. China

With "opposition to hegemony" and the "five principles of peace" as its fundamental foreign policies, China concentrated its efforts on strengthening its ties with the United States, Western European countries and Japan to carry out its "modernization" program. In January it normalized diplomatic relations with the United States. In October, Premier Hua made an official tour of France, West Germany, the U.K. and Italy. Relations with these countries were actively promoted. In April, China notified the Soviet Union that it would not renew the Sino-Soviet alliance treaty, but at the same time it proposed negotiations for improvement of relations between the two countries. In February, it opened hostilities against Vietnam to which it had been antagonistic for some time, claiming that it was launching a "limited defensive counterattack".


D. Western Europe

There was progress in the European unification movement as evidenced by the direct elections for the European Parliament, the start of the European Monetary System and signing of the agreement for the entry of Greece into the EC. Efforts were also made to adjust the position of the countries of Western Europe in harmony with that of the United States and promote the Atlantic alliance at such conferences as the summit of four nations on Guadeloupe Island at the beginning of the year. Concerning the security of Europe, there were developments mainly about the modernization of theater nuclear weapons of the NATO countries. The Soviet Union countered this move in Western Europe with such measures as President Brezhnev's arms reduction proposal including quantitative limitation of medium-range missiles. The NATO countries reacted to such initiatives of the Soviet Union with a cool attitude, and in December they agreed on the theater nuclear weapons modernization program and reaffirmed the policy that negotiations for the reduction of long-range theater nuclear weapons should be conducted between the United States and the Soviet Union.


(2) Domestic Developments


A. The United States

Both internal and external conditions became difficult as inflation accelerated, with the 1979 consumer price increase rate at 13%, and a revolution broke out in Iran. Under these circumstances, the dissatisfaction and irritation of the American people grew; President Carter's capacity as a leader was repeatedly questioned, and his reelection was considered as doubtful. However, regarding the U.S. countermoves against the American hostage issue in Iran and the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, public opinion was unified in support of the President. This caused President Carter to gain an overwhelmingly advantageous position in the earlier stages of the presidential primaries. As measures to tide over financial difficulties, the Carter administration tightened the budget and adopted monetary restraint. It also announced short and long-range energy policies and tried to cool down the economic climate.


B. The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

President and Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev repeatedly took rests because of ill health, and Premier Aleksei Kosygin was suddenly taken ill. It was felt that the ageing of the top leadership of the Soviet Communist Party advanced further. In the economic aspect, the grain crop was poor, most economic program goals were not attained, and it was known that the Soviet economy was in stagnation. However, in the Politburo, the Brezhnev color became even stronger, and there was no ostensible sign of instability in the Brezhnev regime.

In the countries of Eastern Europe, although the stagnant trend in their economy that had continued for some years still prevailed, the situation in each country was generally tranquil.


C. China

Throughout 1979, China's internal politics progressed mainly in line with its fundamental policies of promoting the "modernization" program while seeking "stable unity". At the second session of the Fifth National People's Congress in June, efforts were made to materialize the basic policy lines with concrete measures. Among the people, there were notable moves to demand "liberalization" and "democratization". However, the leaders of the country set up a series of measures to restrain the people from going too far, and promoted ideological education. The year 1979 was the first year of China's economic adjustment. Nevertheless the country seems to have obtained fair results both in agriculture and industry. In February 1980, the Chinese Communist, Party held the Fifth Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee, at which the long-pending question of vindicating Liu Shaoqi's honor was settled, the party's top management was reorganized, and a new leadership was established to build the country along the "modernization" line.


D. Western Europe 

On the whole, the situation in Western Europe was tranquil. The first direct elections for the European Parliament took place in June, and general elections were held in eleven countries resulting in a change of regime in several countries including the U.K. The European communist movements were inactive. The gradual recovery of business activity slowed down from about mid-year, and the gap in inflation rates between West Germany and other countries such as the U.K. and Italy widened.


3. Trends in Other Regions


(1) Asia


A. Korean Peninsula

With President Park Chung Hee's proposal to resume the dialogue between North and South as a momentum, contacts were made between Pyongyang and Seoul three times from February to March. However, the positions of the North and the South were still widely apart, and the dialogue was discontinued without any substantial result. In June when U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited South Korea, the United States and South Korea invited North Korea to attend a three-way conference between representatives of the three countries, but the offer was rejected and no progress was made in easing tensions. As a result of a re-evaluation of North Korean armed forces strength, it was decided that the withdrawal of U.S. ground troops from the Republic of Korea would be frozen until 1981. North Korea took care to maintain balance in its relations with China and the Soviet Union. At the same time, it aimed to strengthen its relations with the non-aligned nations, and it was elected to the coordinating bureau at the non-aligned summit in September. In South Korea, President Park was assassinated on October 26. Later, Prime Minister Choi Kyu Hah was inaugurated as the 10th president of the Republic of Korea. The major problem confronting the new government was political development to bring harmony within the country. The domestic situation in South Korea is still highly changeable. In North Korea, there was no change in the course based on the "independence principle" under the leadership of Chairman Kim II Sung.


B. Southeast Asia

(a) ASEAN Countries and Burma

The domestic situation in the ASEAN countries was generally calm, except in Thailand where the political power changed from the Kriangsak regime to the Prem regime in March 1980, with worsening economic conditions in the background.

On the diplomatic front, the VIPs of these countries actively exchanged visits. Of note was the fact that at the ASEAN foreign ministers' conference and the UN General Assembly, the ASEAN countries were united in taking the initiative in working out a peaceful solution to Indochina problems, demanding immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from Kampuchea and control of the refugee flow from Vietnam.

Burma ceased participation in the Conference of the Non-aligned Countries charging that what was being done there did not justify the name "non-aligned".


(b) Indochina

In the face of an offensive by the Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS) with full military support from the Vietnamese, Pnom Penh fell in January. The KNUFNS headed by Heng Samrin announced the establishment of "The People's Republic of Kampuchea" to replace Pol Pot's Democratic Kampuchea. Ousted from Pnom Penh, the Democratic Kampucheans continued resistance by guerrilla warfare mainly in the western and northern parts of the country. They effected a reform in the government, including the replacement of Premier Pol Pot, and tried to expand the bases for resistance against Vietnam, calling for the formation of a united front against Vietnam. At the same time, they made efforts to secure international support for their cause, and are still recognized as having the right to be represented in the United Nations. The Heng Samrin regime, on the other hand, concluded a treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation with Vietnam, and sought to consolidate their hold over the areas under their control, mainly city areas, wholly depending on Vietnam whose troops were heavily deployed in these areas. However, they failed to win representation in the U.N. General Assembly.

China-Vietnam relations, which had been deteriorating since 1978, reached a crisis when China started military action against Vietnam. After China withdrew its forces, the two countries had talks at vice-minister level, which made no progress at all. With the worsening China-Vietnam relations in the background, the Soviet Union escalated its military and economic aid to Vietnam, and Soviet military ships and aircraft began to use Vietnamese military installations.

Meanwhile, the refugees from the Indochinese states posed grave political and social problems, and relief activities in various countries continued mainly through the UN organizations.


(c) Southwest Asia

In India, the Desai Cabinet and the Singh coalition Cabinet fell successively. As a result the lower house of Parliament was dissolved, leaving the domestic political situation in confusion. On the diplomatic front, the year was highlighted by the visit of External Affairs Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to China, and Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin's visit to India. However, because of the unstable domestic situation, India's diplomatic activities including those at the non-aligned summit were not very vigorous on the whole. In Pakistan, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed in April, the general election was put off indefinitely, and the military administration was strengthened with stricter control under martial law. Externally, its close relations with China were maintained, with Chinese Vice-Premier Li Xiannian visiting Pakistan and Pakistani foreign affairs adviser to the President, Agha Shahi, visiting China. On the other hand, its relations with the United States cooled off. The United States suspended economic aid to Pakistan. The frigid U.S.-Pakistan relations did not improve up to the end of the year.


(2) Oceania


In Australia, the Fraser government continued policies chiefly aimed at arresting inflation and reducing the deficit in the national finances. In New Zealand, the Muldoon government maintained its policy of making business conditions pick up and arresting inflation mainly through export increase. Both Australia and New Zealand, while consistently following a policy of cooperating with the United States, made positive approaches to the ASEAN countries and Japan.

In the South Pacific, the Gilbert Islands, formerly under British rule, became the independent Republic of Kiribati in July.



(3) The Middle East


Through 1979 into 1980 there were violent developments in the Middle East situation.

In Iran, the empire of Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi collapsed, and power shifted to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who stood for an Islamic revolution, and to a provisional government under his nominee Mehdi Bazargan. After the ex-Shah Pahlavi was hospitalized in the United States in October, Muslim militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Iran in November, and, taking the embassy staff as hostages, demanded the hand-over of the ex-shah. This led to the resignation en bloc of the Bazargan Cabinet, and state affairs were taken over by the Revolutionary Council. The United States applied sanctions against Iran independently in November 1979 and April 1980, and requested allied and friendly countries of the West to follow suit. These countries responded to the request in their own way. However, the Iranians persisted in their attitude that the hostages issue would be left to a decision by the National Assembly which would be elected later. Prospects for an early release of the hostages became hopeless, and U.S.-Iran relations were aggravated further.

In Afghanistan, Chairman of Revolutionary Council Noor Mohammed Taraki fell from power and was replaced by Prime Minister Hafizhllah Amin in September. However, as a result of the Soviet military intervention in December, the Amin regime fell in its turn, and Amin was killed. Former Vice Prime Minister Babrak Karmal then took office as Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. The new government introduced a series of conciliatory measures for various religious and other groups among the Afghan people. However, resistance of the rebels has remained firm. It seems that, in spite of international censure, deployment of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan is going to be prolonged, for reasons such as delay in reorganization of the Afghan military forces.

As regards the peace moves in the Middle East, mediation efforts by the United States based on the framework for peace agreed upon in September 1978 at Camp David bore fruit, and a peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel in March 1979. Arab countries outside Egypt opposed this treaty, complaining that it would not lead to comprehensive peace in the Middle East. They applied sanctions against Egypt, but relations between Egypt and Israel were improved steadily. Negotiations were opened in May 1979 among Egypt, Israel and the United States on the question of Palestinian autonomy on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. However, although the target date for termination of the negotiations in May 1980 has passed, no progress has been made in the talks for settlement of practical questions.

In 1979, there were more destabilizing developments in the Near and the Middle East, such as a dispute between North and South Yemen, an abortive coup d'etat in Iraq, a disturbance in Mecca, intensification of the Western Sahara dispute, and aggravation of Libya-Tunisia relations. The Soviet Union concluded a treaty of friendship and cooperation with South Yemen.


(4) Africa


In southern Africa, an agreement was reached for peaceful settlement of the Zimbabwe Rhodesia issue by all parties concerned at a constituent assembly in December. It was held on the initiative of the U.K. on the basis of a proposal for peace in Zimbabwe made at the summit of the Commonwealth nations. The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution to lift economic sanctions against Zimbabwe Rhodesia. As regards Namibia, the interested parties continued negotiations to conduct UN-supervised free elections, and newly reached an agreement in principle on the concept of a demilitarized zone. However, the outlook for final settlement of problems in this area remained uncertain.


(5) Latin America


The Andes countries comprising Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia attracted attention by tightening political unity as democratic powers. In Ecuador and Bolivia, government was turned over to civilian control. In Brazil, a new government started under President Joao Baptista Figueiredo. In the Central America-Caribbean area, Nicaragua and El Salvador had coups d'etat aimed at democratization of the countries. There was a change of government also in Grenada. On October 1, 1979, the new Panama Canal Treaty took effect, and Panama took over control of the Canal Zone from the United States.

Cuba, while maintaining close relations with the Soviet Union, was active on the diplomatic scene, hosting the summit of non-aligned nations, and Premier Fidel Castro attending the UN General Assembly and visiting Mexico.


4. Trends in Non-aligned Nations


At the 6th summit of non-aligned nations which was held in September in Havana, Cuba, while consensus between the pro-Soviet radical countries and the moderate nations was sought in the end, conflicts among the non-aligned nations became more conspicuous. With the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, wariness towards the Soviet Union grew among non-aligned and Islamic nations. At an extraordinary conference of the foreign ministers of Islamic nations held in January 1980 in Islamabad, a resolution was adopted denouncing the Soviet Union, mentioning it by name.


5. Trends in the International Economic Situation


In 1979, the speed of business recovery in advanced industrial democracies as a whole was rather slow. While the economies of Japan and West Germany maintained an expansive note, the U.S. economy began to move into a downward phase. Many advanced countries still suffered from inflationary pressures and a high unemployment rate. These problems became more serious, coupled with the effect of the second oil crisis. Although progress was made in adjusting the international balance of payments among advanced countries, disequilibrium in the balance of payments between oil-producing and -importing countries became conspicuous as a result of the sharp increase in crude oil prices. Especially, the balance of payments of non-oil-producing developing nations posed increasingly serious problems.

At the summit conference of major industrial nations in Tokyo, an agreement was reached to set oil consumption and import goals for each country not only for 1979 and 1980 but also for 1985. On the question of international trade, the protracted Multilateral Trade Negotiation carne to a settlement at last, and the countries concerned reaffirmed their intention to fight protectionism and maintain the open world trade system. On the North-South issue, there were some notable developments which suggested the trend in the1980s. For example, the 5th UNCTAD general meeting and the World Agrarian Reform and Development Conference were held. Work started to draft an international development strategy (New IDS) for the third UN development decade. A UN meeting on science and technology for development was held. Also, the third UN Industrial Development Organization (UNICO) general meeting was held in February 1980.

In the field of atomic energy, the consultation for international nuclear fuel cycle evaluation (INFCE) terminated at the end of February 1980, with a positive conclusion for promotion of the peaceful use of atomic energy. This consultation had been started on the occasion of the London summit of major industrial nations with a view to finding a means of reconciling the peaceful use of atomic energy with nuclear nonproliferation.


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