Reader Mail

Rebuttal of letter on Akiba issue

A letter to the editor in the April 20 edition by Bradley Roberts and Keith Payne attempts to “set the record straight” on Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba’s presentation to a U.S. congressional commission on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for Japan in 2009. Akiba reportedly responded favorably to a U.S. proposal to construct a nuclear weapons storage site in Okinawa, which would violate Japan’s three non-nuclear principles.

Roberts and Payne mistakenly claimed the document Akiba gave the congressional commission does not exist, despite the fact that it was published long before their letter appeared in The Japan Times.

The document exists.

Roberts and Payne also claimed that no records were kept. This too is incorrect. An April 10 reply by the Cabinet to questions from Lower House member Seiji Osaka confirmed that the Foreign Ministry kept records. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), which administered the congressional commission, also confirmed it archived documents that describe the commission’s discussions with Akiba and other Japanese officials.

Records were kept.

The April 10 reply to Osaka’s letter also made clear that all of the Japanese officials who appeared before the U.S. commission were acting in an official capacity under the direction of Foreign Minister Nakasone. The three-page document Akiba gave the U.S. commission is therefore an official record of the Japanese government’s views on the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in the defense of Japan. So are any oral statements Akiba and the other Japanese officials gave to the commission.

Akiba’s favorable response on the question of a nuclear weapons storage site in Okinawa was recorded in handwritten notes on the margins of the document. Roberts and Payne remember the conversation differently. Notes are sometimes inaccurate. Memories are sometimes faulty. The best way to resolve the discrepancy is for USIP and the Foreign Ministry to allow the Diet to examine their records. Greater transparency, from both sides, is the best way to set the record straight.


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.

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