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Denial despite paper confirming ’60 secret U.S. pact on Korea crisis

Kyodo News

A declassified document in a U.S. presidential library has confirmed there was a secret 1960 bilateral agreement allowing the United States to use its bases in Japan without prior consultation with Tokyo in the event war breaks out again on the Korean Peninsula, according to a researcher.

Tokyo, however, maintains no such pact exists and prior consultations are necessary.

The existence of the accord, formulated when Japan and the U.S. revised their security treaty, has long been known. But this is the first time a document verifying it has been unearthed.

Reiterating Japan’s official stance, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told reporters Wednesday “there is no secret pact whatsoever” regarding prior consultations on U.S. base use and the government has no intention of researching the matter.

But the journalist who found the document, professor Mikio Haruna of Nagoya University’s graduate school, said it confirms it exists. “With this, the existence of the secret pact becomes clear,” Haruna said.

Dated June 23, 1960, the document was found at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the University of Michigan and quotes remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Douglas MacArthur II and Foreign Minister Aiichiro Fujiyama when they discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula at a security meeting in Tokyo.

According to the document, “the possibility of a renewal of the armed attack cannot be ruled out,” MacArthur said. It “could happen that, unless the United States armed forces undertook military combat operations immediately from Japan, the United Nations forces could not repel an armed attack made in violation of the armistice.”

“I hereby request, therefore, the views of the Japanese government regarding the operational use of bases in Japan in the event of an exceptional emergency,” the document quoted MacArthur as telling Fujiyama.

“As an exceptional measure in the event of an emergency resulting from an attack against the United Nations forces in Korea, facilities and areas in Japan may be used for such military combat operations as need be undertaken immediately by the United States armed forces in Japan,” the document further quoted Fujiyama as responding.

Fujiyama said he had been authorized by Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi to state this as the view of Japan, according to the document.

On the day the document was drawn up, Japan and the United States exchanged instruments of ratification on the new Japan-U.S. security treaty and Kishi announced his intention to resign.

The document, declassified in March 2005, was attached to a record about a 1974 discussion within the U.S. administration over the use of U.S. bases in Japan in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

Machimura said the U.S. has reiterated it will “sincerely fulfill its obligations to Japan in line with the security treaty and has no intention of acting against the Japanese government’s idea related to prior consultations.”