Former Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for declaring in 1967 Japan's nonnuclear principles, described them as "nonsense" just two years later in talks with a U.S. ambassador, according to a recently declassified State Department document.

In a telegram to Secretary of State Dean Rusk dated Jan. 14, 1969, then U.S. Ambassador to Japan Alexis Johnson said he paid a farewell call on Sato before returning to Washington to take up his new position as undersecretary of state.

After exchanging views on the Vietnam War and problems related to Okinawa's return to Japan, Sato touched on Japan's defense, saying even the Defense Agency "lacked sophistication in military matters," Johnson said in the telegram, which was declassified in December 1999.

Sato then said the Japanese government's three nonnuclear principles were "nonsense."