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Scholars and writers filed a lawsuit Monday demanding the government disclose documents they say indicate the existence of a secret Japan-U.S. pact on cost burdens for the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty.

In the suit filed with the Tokyo District Court, the plaintiffs targeted mainly three documents, including one that indicates Japan secretly shouldered $4 million in costs the United States was supposed to pay to restore farmland that the U.S. military had used.

The three papers, compiled between 1969 and 1971, were declassified by the U.S. government early this decade.

The group asked the government to disclose the documents, but the Foreign and Finance ministries rejected the request last October on grounds they don’t have them, prompting the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs argue that the government claim of not being in possession of the documents is “quite questionable” because the papers carry the initials of ranking negotiators of both countries, indicating they are official administrative papers.

The plaintiffs also say in their complaint that it is not necessary for the government to maintain secrecy over the diplomatic talks any longer because the papers were made public in the U.S.

The Japanese negotiator, Bunroku Yoshino, who was chief of the Foreign Ministry’s American Bureau, has said that one of the initials is his.

The government, however, has consistently denied the existence of the secret pact.

The issue has drawn public attention since Takichi Nishiyama, a former Mainichi Shimbun reporter, filed a damages suit in 2005, arguing he had to give up his career after he was wrongfully convicted over his news-gathering activities on the Okinawa-reversion talks.

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