Ministry aims to disclose ’72 memo on Okinawa

The government plans to disclose as much as it can of a 1972 memorandum that set conditions for the use of military facilities in Okinawa Prefecture by U.S. military forces, Foreign Ministry officials said Feb. 19.

The government must discuss with the U.S. government how much of the memorandum it can disclose because some parts of the document may have to be kept secret for security or strategic reasons, the ministry officials said. But the basic stance of the government is to seek full disclosure, the officials said. The bilateral discussions will be held at meetings of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee.

The move was prompted by a request Feb. 17 by Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to make the document public. Hashimoto told Ota he would consider doing so.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government is concerned that the 1972 accord may include provisions that discriminate against the prefecture. That concern was fueled by the recent disclosure of an incident in which the U.S. Marine Corps accidentally fired radioactive bullets during exercises near Okinawa and failed to report their actions for nearly a year. Okinawan officials have said such an incident would never happen in those areas of mainland Japan that host U.S. military facilities.