Recently uncovered U.S. documents confirm there was a secret agreement allowing U.S. nuclear weapons to be brought into Japan in emergency situations in exchange for Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972.
While the secret pact has already been revealed in various books and accounts, this is the first time its existence has been confirmed in official U.S. documents connected to the people directly involved in the negotiations.
The Japanese government has repeatedly denied claims about the secret pact.
The documents, dated Nov. 12 and 13, 1969, were written by White House National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to President Richard Nixon.
The memorandums were declassified in 2005 and recently discovered in the U.S. National Archives by Takashi Shinobu, a professor of Japan-U.S. diplomatic history at Nihon University.
The memos, titled “Secret Negotiations with the Japanese on U.S. Nuclear Access to Post-Reversion Okinawa and Textiles,” were written prior to a summit in Washington between Nixon and Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in November 1969, during which they agreed to the reversion of Okinawa.
The memos refer to the procedure to be followed by the two leaders in reaching an agreement for the secret pact.
In the Nov. 12 memorandum, Kissinger wrote, “Attached is a proposed game plan to be followed by Prime Minister Sato and yourself in conjunction with secret U.S.-Japanese agreements on access to post-reversion Okinawa for nuclear weapons and the textile question.”
Kissinger wrote in detail about the “procedural arrangements” during negotiations over a joint communique. The communique, which was released to the public after the summit, stated that the United States would return Okinawa to Japan and remove nuclear weapons from the prefecture.
In the Nov. 13 memorandum, Kissinger said that the “game plan was agreed upon at my terminal meeting with Mr. Yoshida yesterday afternoon,” referring to the code name of a Japanese official sent as the prime minister’s secret emissary to negotiate the secret pact with Kissinger.
Kei Wakaizumi, the late Kyoto Sangyo University professor, was the secret envoy. Wakaizumi wrote about the secret deal in a book published in 1994, two years before his death at age 66.
The contents of the memos are identical to Wakaizumi’s account in the book.
Shinobu said it is significant that the existence of the secret pact has been proved by records in both the U.S. and Japan.