A document on a secret Japan-U.S. pact signed by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and President Richard Nixon in 1969 allowing the United States to introduce nuclear weapons into Okinawa in the event of an emergency has been kept by the Sato family, a close relative disclosed Tuesday.
If the document is genuine, it would put an end to debate over the existence of the secret pact, which has long been denied by the Foreign Ministry.
It would also influence the ongoing probe by a third-party panel set up by the Foreign Ministry to look into nuclear deals between the two countries.
According to Shinji Sato, the former prime minister’s son and a former transport minister, the document records the minutes of a secret conversation between Sato and Nixon during a meeting in November 1969, when the two countries were negotiating the return of Okinawa to Japan.
Shinji Sato said the document indicates that during this meeting, the two sides agreed that with prior consultation the U.S. could bring nuclear weapons into Okinawa in the event of a crisis in Japan or elsewhere in East Asia.
According to him, both parties also agreed to classify this document and keep it only in the White House and the prime minister’s office.
He said the document was originally found in 1987, when Hiroko Sato, the wife of Eisaku Sato, died and the family was organizing belongings at their home in Daizawa in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. The family has kept the document since then, Shinji Sato said.
The existence of the document was noted in a book by a scholar of international politics but had not been publicly confirmed.
Eisaku Sato won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 for his three-point nonnuclear principles — not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons to enter Japan.
But the document proves he violated the stated defense policy of Japan, according to his son. A number of statements of former diplomats have strongly indicated the pact did exist, despite the Foreign Ministry’s official denials.