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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 December 19 - 2019 January 8  > Declassified documents suggest Foreign Ministry accepted secret pact on bringing-in of US nuclear weapons to Okinawa
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2018 December 19 - 2019 January 8 [POLITICS]

Declassified documents suggest Foreign Ministry accepted secret pact on bringing-in of US nuclear weapons to Okinawa

December 20, 2018
Declassified documents suggest that in negotiations with the U.S. on the reversion of Okinawa to Japan, top officials of the Japanese Foreign Ministry chose to accept the U.S. proposal to conclude a secret agreement which would allow the re-entry of U.S. nuclear weapons into Okinawa even after the termination of the U.S. occupation.

In November 1969, Prime Minister Sato Eisaku and U.S. President Richard Nickson signed a secret agreement to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons storage site in Okinawa in order to enable U.S. nuclear weapons to be brought to the prefecture in the event of emergencies. This diplomatic document was held in safekeeping at PM Sato’s private residence.

The Foreign Ministry has long insisted that it was unaware of such a secret pact pertaining to Okinawa.

However, there is a high possibility that high-ranking Foreign Ministry officials in charge of the negotiations on Okinawa’s reversion at that time were involved the conclusion of the secret pact. This was revealed in declassified diplomatic documents regarding the talks held in 1969 after access to these documents became available on December 19, 2018.

In negotiating a deal on Okinawa’s return to Japan, noting that up to about 1,300 nuclear weapons were deployed to Okinawa, the Japanese government demanded the removal of these atomic weapons. The U.S. military, however, rejected this demand based on Japan's acceptance on the nuclear deterrence theory.

Under this circumstance, in an embassy cable to Foreign Minister Aichi Kiichi dated September 8, 1969, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Shimoda Takeso conveyed the message that the U.S. government would withdraw U.S. nuclear weapons from Okinawa on condition that these weapons can be reintroduced “in times of crisis”.

Furthermore, on September 15, 1969, Foreign Ministry American Affairs Bureau chief Togo Fumihiko compiled a confidential memo titled “report on the Foreign Minister’s visit to the U.S.” The memo indicated the prospect that the issue of nuclear weapons will finally reach a conclusion between the Japanese and U.S. leaders. Pointing out that it is necessary for the Japanese government to consider response to the so-called issue of the re-entry of nuclear weapons in Okinawa after the reversion, the memo proposed that an agreement regarding the bringing-in of nuclear arms in the event of emergencies be worked out.

In another diplomatic telegram to the Foreign Minister dated September 22, 1969, Ambassador Shimoda reported what the director of Japanese affairs in the U.S. Department of State Richard Finn said. According to the report, Finn asserted that a secret agreement needs to be made in regard to the issue of the bringing-in of nuclear weapons to Okinawa and expressed his view that it is hard for the Japanese government to agree to include this issue in a communique about the talks on the return of Okinawa.

Past related article:
> Gov’t must abolish ‘secret agreement’ with US over bringing-in of nuclear weapons to Japan [May 12, 2016]
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