「佐藤」核密約 東西冷戦下の苦渋の選択だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 24, 2009)
Secret accord inevitable during Cold War era
「佐藤」核密約 東西冷戦下の苦渋の選択だ(12月24日付・読売社説)

A key document that gives credence to the existence of a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over the reentry of nuclear weapons into Okinawa after its reversion to Japan has been discovered.

The document is an "agreed minute" signed by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and U.S. President Richard Nixon during a summit meeting held in Washington in November 1969, prior to the 1972 return of Okinawa.

The document showed that the United States intended to remove all nuclear weapons from Okinawa by the time of its reversion. It also indicated that Washington would require the reentry of nuclear weapons into Okinawa during emergencies, such as a possible incident in the Far East.

The existence of this kind of secret accord had already been suggested by Kei Wakaizumi, who served as a secret envoy for Sato. However, proof of the existence of the document has now come to light and the finding is of significant historical importance.


Difficult decision

During talks over the reversion of Okinawa, Japan requested "nuclear-free, mainland status" for Okinawa. The United States, on the other hand, stressed the necessity of allowing for the reentry of nuclear weapons in the case of an emergency.

Agreeing to the secret accord was thus a tough decision taken to ensure the reversion of Okinawa by striking a balance between the Japanese public's negative feelings about nuclear weapons, and security concerns within the Cold War structure brought about by the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Foreign Ministry has set up a panel of experts to research and examine the issue of four purported secret agreements with the United States, including the one relating to the reentry of nuclear weapons after the reversion of Okinawa. The recent discovery of the aforementioned document likely will help the panel make significant progress.

Sato kept the document at home and we wonder whether its contents were passed on to successive prime ministers and senior ministry officials in an appropriate manner. The panel should uncover the truth through interviews with the people concerned, and via other means.

The government has consistently denied the existence of such agreements. But, to restore the people's trust in this nation's diplomacy, the government should acknowledge that secret accords were struck and thereby settle the controversy.


Deterrence still essential

Though the Cold War has ended, it is hard to say whether the circumstances surrounding Japan's security have improved.

North Korea, which has twice conducted nuclear tests, reportedly possesses a huge number of ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan. Meanwhile, China has registered double-digit growth in its defense spending for 21 consecutive years. China reportedly has deployed a number of nuclear missiles targeting Japan.

The U.S. military's nuclear deterrence is still essential for Japan.

Presently, however, the Japan-U.S. alliance is being seriously shaken. The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has indecisively handled the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, resulting in a strong sense of U.S. distrust toward Japan.

To maintain the effectiveness of the U.S. deterrence, we believe it is worth giving consideration to allowing port calls or stopovers of vessels and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. However, such an act would have implications for the third of the nation's three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not allowing the entry of nuclear weapons into this nation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 24, 2009)
(2009年12月24日01時31分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-12-24 04:52 | 英字新聞

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