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Kishi ‘understood’ secret nuke pact, ’63 letter indicates

Kyodo News

When negotiating the revised Japan-U.S. security treaty in 1960, then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi and Foreign Minister Aiichiro Fujiyama knew that a diplomatic record on allowing U.S. nuclear-armed vessels to enter Japanese ports without prior consultation constituted a secret pact, a newly found U.S. document showed Friday.

Akira Kurosaki, associate professor of international politics at Fukushima University, found the document, a confidential letter, at the U.S. National Archives.

The letter pertains to the Confidential Record of Discussion forged by Fujiyama and the U.S. side. The record had a clause reflecting the U.S. preference for excluding transits and port calls by U.S. vessels carrying nuclear weapons from requiring prior consultation under the security treaty.

The newly found letter — exchanged between U.S. officials in Tokyo and Washington in 1963 — states Kishi and Fujiyama “clearly understood” the meaning of the record. This runs counter to a report released in March by a panel commissioned by the Foreign Ministry, in which the panel stopped short of calling the Confidential Record of Discussion direct evidence of a secret pact.

The panel concluded that, at the time of revising the security treaty, Japan and the United States “intentionally” avoided pursuing whether the entry of U.S. vessels into Japanese ports would be subject to prior consultation in order to not disrupt the alliance.

This tacit “secret pact in a broad sense” became fixed in 1963 after then U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer told Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira that Washington did not feel port calls required prior consultation.

But in the newfound letter, dated March 15, 1963, Earle Richey, first secretary of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, told Robert Fearey, officer in charge of Japanese affairs at the U.S. State Department’s Office of East Asian Affairs, that “the meaning of paragraph 2c. of the Confidential Record of Discussion was clearly understood by Kishi and Fujiyama at the time of the Treaty negotiations,” quoting Fearey’s statement in another letter dated Feb. 12, 1962. This apparently runs counter to what the panel concluded.

Paragraph 2c. stipulated that existing procedures concerning transits and port calls by U.S. vessels and aircraft — in place before the treaty revision — would be excluded from prior consultation requirements. Washington’s view from the beginning was that U.S. vessels carrying atomic weapons met the exclusion requirements.

The letter the professor found indicates Kishi and Fujiyama accepted this interpretation.

Richey further wrote to Fearey, who was deeply involved in the treaty revision, that the embassy went over files on the treaty negotiations but was unable to locate any record regarding bilateral consultations on the matter.

The diplomat went on to conclude that “any discussions held with the GOJ (Government of Japan) were strictly between (U.S. Ambassador to Japan Douglas) MacArthur and Kishi and Fujiyama and that no record was ever made of it” because the matter concerning nuclear weapons aboard U.S. 7th Fleet vessels and aircraft was “politically delicate” at the time.

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the revised security treaty, which committed the U.S. to defending Japan.

Kishi resigned the same day the treaty was ratified, on June 23, 1960.