元局長証言 「沖縄密約ない」は崩れ去った

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 3, 2009)
Govt's denial of Okinawa secret pact lacks weight
元局長証言 「沖縄密約ない」は崩れ去った(12月3日付・読売社説)

Now that a former senior diplomat has admitted in court that he signed a document as part of a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over the 1972 reversion of Okinawa, it appears the government's long-held stance that such a pact did not exist has been toppled.

Bunroku Yoshino, who was in charge of negotiations with Washington over the reversion at the time, admitted to the existence of a secret agreement during testimony as a witness in an information disclosure lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday.

Yoshino, the then Foreign Ministry's American Bureau chief, had already confessed in interviews with news organizations that there was a secret pact regarding the cost burdens for reverting Okinawa to Japanese rule from U.S. control. But his public testimony in open court carries much more weight.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of plaintiffs, including former Mainichi Shimbun reporter Takichi Nishiyama, who had been found guilty for his involvement in leaking government documents on the secret pact. Group members demanded the disclosure of documents believed to indicate the existence of the secret pact, but the government said it would not disclose them. The plaintiffs then demanded the government nullify its decision not to disclose the documents.


U.S. disclosure made

Yoshino testified in court that Tokyo and Washington made a secret agreement to have Japan shoulder 4 million dollars the United States was supposed to pay to restore farmland in Okinawa that had been used by U.S. forces, as well as 16 million dollars for the transfer of a U.S. shortwave radio station.

During Nishiyama's trial in 1972, Yoshino denied the existence of the secret agreement. But after giving his testimony this week, Yoshino said, "I've come to believe that pursuing the truth about the past will benefit Japan's future."

Thirty-seven years separate Yoshino's two testimonies, and he likely judged that coming out with the truth would not cause any major problems to Japan-U.S. relations or other state affairs.

A number of official documents that support the existence of bilateral secret pacts have been made public in the United States since 2000. There is no reason for the Japanese government to protect such documents as diplomatic secrets.


Time for reconciliation

Under the initiative of Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, a ministry panel comprising external experts has started investigating and analyzing four secret agreements believed to have been made between the two countries, including the one on the cost burdens of Okinawa's reversion.

Following Yoshino's latest testimony, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said, "I intend to let the people learn [the truth] by appropriate means when all the facts are confirmed."

We hope the government expresses its view on the matter based on a report to be compiled by the panel next month.

In diplomacy, governments occasionally choose not to make public the content of agreements made with other governments in order to maintain trusting relations and to prevent any damage to national interests that could occur if third-party nations obtained such information. The government needs to explain the circumstances that led to the secret pact Yoshino spoke about.

In the United States, diplomatic documents in principle can be disclosed 25 years after being made. In Japan, the Foreign Ministry decides whether to disclose its documents after a certain period. We suggest that disclosure be made as defined by rules that would limit the ministry's discretion on the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 3, 2009)
(2009年12月3日00時36分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-12-03 04:40 | 英字新聞

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