The government on Monday denied a report by a major Japanese daily that Japan paid about $200 million to the United States in clandestine deals over the May 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japanese rule.
In its top story, the Asahi Shimbun said Monday that it has obtained declassified U.S. government documents that indicate top secret agreements were concluded between the two countries prior to Okinawa’s return. The documents state Japan would shoulder various costs related to the reversion, the daily said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Mikio Aoki said at a news conference there were no secret deals. The top government spokesman declined to comment on the U.S. documents, saying he was not aware of their content.
The newspaper said Japan covered the $4 million the U.S. was to pay to restore Okinawa to its original state, while allocating funds to provide goods and services to the U.S. military in Okinawa.
The allocations reportedly included $65 million to improve and relocate U.S. military facilities, $10 million for personnel administration and $112 million to cover interest payments, according to the Asahi.
The study was conducted with Masaaki Gabe, a professor at Okinawa’s University of the Ryukyus, who obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
In Diet sessions and court proceedings, the Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied the existence of a secret financial arrangement, the Asahi said.
One of the U.S. documents indicated that Bunroku Yoshino, then head of the American Affairs Bureau at the Foreign Ministry, told then U.S. minister to Tokyo Richard Sneider that Japan would cover the restoration costs, the paper reported.
The Asahi said the document bears Yoshino’s handwritten initials, but he reportedly denied the conversation with the envoy ever took place.
“The signature is indeed mine. But I have no recollection of having had such talks,” Yoshino told the Asahi.
“Maybe I signed it after the U.S. side asked me to enable them to explain the situation to Congress. I have never made such a secret agreement, and I don’t think the Japanese government has any documents equivalent to this,” the paper quoted Yoshino as saying.
According to announcements by the Japanese government as well as declassified U.S. government documents, Japan has spent $320 million on the purchase of assets, labor costs and other expenses involved with the reversion of the island prefecture, which the U.S. ruled for 27 years from the end of World War II.
Since 1976, the Foreign Ministry has been declassifying 30-year-old diplomatic records that do not pose a risk to state security, diplomatic negotiations or privacy. The latest were released Sunday.
But the ministry has never released documents related to Japan-U.S. negotiations over the return of Okinawa, the Asahi said.