Supreme Court to support keeping Okinawa reversion documents secret

Kyodo

The Supreme Court is expected next week to uphold a lower court ruling endorsing the government’s decision not to disclose diplomatic documents about the 1972 reversion of Okinawa from U.S. control, judicial sources said Monday.

The top court is likely to reject an appeal over the Tokyo High Court’s September 2011 decision that nullified

The Tokyo District Court ordered the government to release documents that showed there was a secret accord for Japan to shoulder part of U.S. costs for the reversion, but the Tokyo High Court nullified this in September 2011.

The sources said the Supreme Court next Monday will likely reject an appeal seeking to overturn the nullification.

Two lower courts have recognized the existence of such documents.

The high court ruling overturned a landmark ruling in April 2010 that said the government possessed the documents and ordered it to disclose the relevant papers. The government was also ordered to pay ¥100,000 in damages to each of the plaintiffs.

“If the Supreme Court goes on to uphold the high court’s decision, this will be a serious problem,” said plaintiff Takichi Nishiyama.

A former reporter for the Mainichi Shimbun, Nishiyama was convicted in the 1970s in connection with his reporting on Japan-U.S. negotiations over Okinawa’s reversion.

Nishiyama, 82, and his fellow plaintiffs filed a suit in March 2009 in their quest to have the government disclose the papers after officials had refused their requests.

These papers, they said, show that Japan and the United States secretly agreed over the financing related to the reversion.

In March 2010, a month before the district court ruling, the Foreign and Finance ministries acknowledged that there was indeed a secret agreement.

The district court said that the government produced the documents from 1969 to 1971 and possessed them, and dismissed the argument that it could not find the papers.

However, the high court reversed the lower court’s decision, saying that the government could have secretly got rid of the documents before the law on freedom of information was enacted to avoid exposing secret negotiations with the United States.

The court ruled that the documents were nowhere to be found at the time the government was requested to disclose them.