• Kyodo News


News photo
Takichi Nishiyama

However, presiding Judge Kenichi Kato ruled that the 20-year filing period had passed, and thus Nishiyama’s case could not proceed.
Disappointed that the judge failed even to admit the existence of the bilateral secret pact in his ruling, Nishiyama said he would file an appeal with the Tokyo High Court.
In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that Nishiyama was guilty of urging a Foreign Ministry secretary to give him classified documents about the negotiation process behind the reversion.
Nishiyama claimed in his damages suit that the conviction was unreasonable. He also alleged the state acted to suppress his probe into a serious government issue.
Even after the release of the U.S. documents in 2000 and 2002, which indicate Japan shouldered the million cost the United States was supposed to pay to restore Okinawa’s land to its original state, Japanese government officials have consistently denied the existence of the secret pact.
In the damages suit, the government argued, “The guilty verdict against the plaintiff – will not be reversed even if the claimed secret pact really existed, and the plaintiff needs to accept it even if the guilty verdict damaged his honor.”

Following the ruling, Nishiyama told a news conference, “I want to continue showing how the government illegally concluded the secret agreement with the United States through the court debates,” indicating he will appeal Tuesday’s decision.

The case drew public attention in 1972 when Nishiyama and his news source, the female secretary, were arrested and charged with violating the National Public Services Law.

But the focus of the case soon shifted from the people’s right to know to a sex scandal when the indictment stated Nishiyama “secretly had an affair” with the secretary and talked her into procuring the classified internal documents for him.

Nishiyama was found innocent at the Tokyo District Court, but the Tokyo High Court overturned the ruling and gave him a suspended prison term, which was upheld by the Supreme Court.

The secretary never appealed the initial guilty sentence.

In February 2006, Bunroku Yoshino, the Foreign Ministry’s then American Bureau chief who negotiated with Washington on Okinawa’s reversion, admitted the existence of the secret pact. Nishiyama filed the damages suit in April 2005.

In interviews with news media, Yoshino said, “Japan paid a total of $320 million to the United States in costs for Okinawa’s reversion, which included the $4 million” needed to restore land used by U.S. forces to farmland.

Yoshino’s remarks were expected to bolster Nishiyama’s damages suit; however, the former diplomat refused Nishiyama’s lawyer’s request for a meeting.

In the news conference, Nishiyama said testimony by Yoshino in court “could have promoted the public understanding over the secret agreement issue.”

“If the political powers conceal what is not beneficial to them, it is the public that is obliged to pay for it,” he added.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.