Setting the record straight on Akiba

The March 6 article “Japanese official allegedly did not rule out building nuclear weapons storage site in Okinawa” repeated an allegation by a U.S. researcher that we know not to be true. This is in reference to a 2009 discussion between the U.S. Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the U.S. and a representative from the Japanese Embassy in Washington.

Allies and others who met with the commission did so on an off-the-record basis so as to ensure that the commission could fully and frankly explore issues. Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba met with the commission, at the commission’s request, as it explored the views of U.S. allies about future U.S. nuclear policy and posture. A topic of particular interest to the commission was how to update deterrence strategy to deal with emerging challenges in Northeast Asia.

As the article states, the U.S. researcher cites a document allegedly summarizing the discussion; but as the discussion was off the record, no record was kept and thus no document was produced.

The U.S. researcher then alleges Akiba was asked about a proposal to build a nuclear weapon storage facility in Okinawa or Guam and responded positively to the proposal.

As participants in that meeting, we can confirm that no such proposal was made. Akiba clearly set out the three non-nuclear principles and reiterated them in follow-up discussions. This false allegation must not be allowed to cast a shadow of doubt on Akiba, who has played a central role in building a strong and effective dialogue between the governments of Japan and the United States on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and the role of extended deterrence in safeguarding Japan from new nuclear threats in the region.

KEITH PAYNE and BRAD ROBERTS
REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA THE CO-AUTHORS WERE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE FOR NUCLEAR DETERRENCE IN THE LAST TWO ADMINISTRATIONS.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.