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Secret agreement unearthed

May 16, 2016

US had rights to bring nuclear weapons to Okinawa


The US Defense Department has published a document that confirms the existence of a once-secret agreement with Japan.

It shows that the US was given the right to bring nuclear arms to Okinawa in time of crisis, even after its reversion to Japanese rule.

The document describes events from 1969 to 1973 when Melvin Laird was Secretary of Defense. It includes details of the lead up to Okinawa's reversion.

The document says the United States would hand back control of Okinawa "in a manner consistent with" the Japanese policy of banning the presence of nuclear weapons on Japanese soil, but it retained the right to reintroduce them in time of crisis.

A document of the secret agreement, signed by the leaders of the 2 countries, came to light 7 years ago. It had been kept by relatives of the then-Prime Minister Eisaku Sato.

The Japanese government set up a committee to investigate the agreement.

The committee found no evidence that the document was passed on to succeeding administrations. It said this meant the document cannot necessarily be called a "secret agreement".

Waseda University Professor Mikio Haruna, an expert in Japan-US relations and a member of the committee, says this may be the first time the agreement has been released in an official document.

He says it may not necessarily represent the view of the US government as a whole, but the Defense Department may be hoping to indicate that the US could bring nuclear weapons to Japan, at a time when tensions are rising in East Asia.

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