U.S. sought port crisis survey: cable


Washington urged Tokyo in July 2008 to conduct a survey on its use of civilian air and seaports in the event of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula, but Japan’s reaction was tepid, according to a U.S. cable disclosed Wednesday by WikiLeaks.

The United States called for a survey on whether it could freely use 23 civilian air and seaports, according to the July 31, 2008, cable sent by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to the departments of State and Defense, along with various key federal government organs.

Japan “outlined the difficulties in conducting certain site surveys,” it said.

The posting of the cable on the confidential communications-revealing WikiLeaks website spotlights a gulf between Japan and the United States in their willingness to conduct adequate preparations in case of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

The United States requested the survey because of increasing tension on the peninsula, following missile launches and a nuclear test by the North.

The 1997 guidelines on defense cooperation mandate that the U.S. military be allowed to use Japanese civilian air and seaports if a situation emerges “in areas surrounding Japan” prior to an armed attack on Japan.

Japan in 2005 agreed to conduct the site surveys of the 23 facilities, but had completed surveys of only two airports and two seaports at the time the cable was sent, following a July 17, 2008, meeting between Thomas Mahnken, deputy assistant secretary for defense, and officials from the Japanese government and the Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff Office.

The cable quoted Mahnken as telling the meeting in Tokyo that the United States needs to “clearly understand the current capacity and logistic support capabilities at Japan’s civilian air and seaports.”