Japan’s local newspapers on June 1 ran on their front pages a Kyodo News report that four former Japanese vice foreign ministers testified that they had had access to a ‘secret accord between Japan and the United States regarding the handling of nuclear weapons,’ an accord stipulating that entries into Japanese ports of U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons or landings at Japanese airports of U.S. aircraft carrying such weapons do not need prior consultations under an annex of the 1960 Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which requires such consultation for an ‘introduction of nuclear weapons’.
Interviewed by Kyodo News, the four former vice foreign ministers said that a ‘secret accord between Japan and the United States regarding the handling of nuclear weapons has been controlled by top Foreign Ministry officials’ and that ‘some prime ministers and foreign ministers knew about it.’
According to the four former officials, these diplomatic exchanges and processes were recorded in Japanese in the ministry’s in-house document and have been controlled by the North American Affairs Bureau and then Treaties Bureau — now the International Legal Affairs Bureau.
When the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised, Washington construed that such a requirement should only apply to the deployment of nuclear weapons on land and stopovers of aircraft and vessels with such weapons were not bound by prior consultation, the former top ministry officials said.
The cabinet under Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, who signed the revised security pact, accepted U.S. interpretation.
However, the cabinet of Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato, who followed Kishi, told the Diet that stopovers of U.S. military vessels with nuclear weapons are subject to prior consultation with the Japanese government.
Fearing that the secret deal on nuclear weapons might be overturned, then U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer met with then Foreign Minister Ohira Masayoshi in April 1963 and asked for confirmation of the U.S. interpretation on stopovers.
One of the four testified that ‘the Foreign Ministry only informed politicians who the ministry saw as trustworthy’; (A) limited number of former premiers who had been told of the secret pact include Hashimoto Ryutaro and Obuchi Keizo.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura Takeo said at a press conference, ‘Prime ministers and foreign ministers have clearly denied the existence of such an agreement.’
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Commenting on the Kyodo News report of the secret nuclear deal at a news conference on June 1, Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi demanded that the Diet summon all those connected with the deal in order to establish the truth.
Ichida stated, ‘What Kyodo News reported shows that the government lied in the parliament by alleging, ‘No nuclear weapons have been brought into Japan by the U.S. military’.’
‘What’s worse, their testimonies indicate that the government of Japan, as the only atomic-bombed country, has been deceiving the public by maintaining its compliance with the three Non-Nuclear Principles (of not to allow the production, possession, and bringing in of nuclear weapons) as national policy,’ he added.
Ichida stressed, ‘The Diet must make a thorough investigation as soon as possible into the whole story behind the bilateral accord on nuclear weapons introduction into Japan.’
The JCP has consistently inquired into the matter of a secret deal regarding nuclear weapons being brought into Japan, but its claims were dismissed in the past, he added.
In 2000, when relevant U.S. declassified documents were revealed one after another, former JCP Chair Fuwa Tetsuzo in a one-on-one talks with the then prime minister brought up the matter. ‘These latest testimonies corroborate what the JCP has said in the past based on its own investigations,’ Ichida said.
Citing U.S. President Obama’s Prague speech that called for a ‘world without nuclear weapons,’ Ichida emphasized, ‘Now that the international current is moving toward the abolition of the nuclear weapons, the Japanese government has no alternative but to publicly reveal everything regarding the secret deal.’
‘As a part, the Diet must call these four former foreign ministry officials to the Diet in order to testify about the secret deal,’ he added.