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Hans Kristensen Japan Under the US Nuclear Umbrella

Section 2, "The Early Years"



 
The Early Years

As with many bilateral security treaties drawn up in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the 1951 Security Treaty with Japan ensured the United States almost free hands on the deployment of military forces in Japan. From the mid-1950s on, Japan served as a major U.S. logistics center for nuclear warfare in Asia.2

The U.S. requirement to forward deploy nuclear weapons in Japan soon collided with Japanese anti-nuclear sentiments. The contamination of the Japanese fishing boat Lucky Dragon following the U.S. Castle Bravo nuclear test explosion at the Bikini atoll in March 1954 and the subsequent concern over radioactive contamination of fish catalyzed public anti-nuclear sentiments in Japan. One year after the Bravo test, in March 1955, Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama was asked during a press conference if he would allow deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Japan. Hatoyama responded:

    I don't believe that 'peace sustained by force' can last, but if we were to sanction the present 'peace sustained by force' as justifiable, then I would have to allow such stockpiling.3
The concession triggered a strong political debate, and over the next months the Liberal Democratic Party government was forced to defend its position and calm criticism with assurances that Japan would of course be consulted before such deployment could take place. Japan had an "understanding" with the United States, Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu assured the Diet in June 1955, that there would be "prior consultation" if nuclear weapons were ever introduced into Japan:
    On May 31, I held talks with U.S. Ambassador Allison and confirmed that (1) U.S. forces in Japan at present do not have atomic bombs, and (2) in the future as well, the U.S. will not bring atomic bombs in without Japan's approval. 4
The U.S. State Department, however, did not agree with this assertion of any "understanding." Although it appreciated the effect the statement had on cutting off Diet criticism of the Japanese government's policy, an internal intelligence report from 1957 subsequently outlined the U.S. interpretation of the situation:
    [...] there was in fact no such understanding. In a secret letter of July 17, 1955, the foreign minister was officially information by the Embassy that the [U.S.] ambassador "made no commitments on May 31 regarding the storage of atomic weapons in Japan" and that " the US government does not consider itself committed to any particular course of action."5
Whatever the "understanding" was, it was not what Shigemitsu said. Moreover, only a week after he told the Diet that the United States would not bring nuclear weapons into Japan without asking first, Shigemitsu sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador where he assured the United States that "nothing in the discussions in the Diet commits the US Government to any particular course of action."6 This double standard policy of secretly relieving the U.S. from any obligations before bringing nuclear weapons in, while at the same time assuring the public that specific limitations existed, would become a trademark of Japanese governments for the next four decades.

No sooner had Shigemitsu given his statement than the policy was put to its first test. On July 28, 1955, only two weeks after he sent his letter of clearance, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Army had announced the deployment of half a dozen nuclear artillery and a number of long-range nuclear missiles to its forces in the Far East. The report stated that the missiles were going to Japan "under a heretofore secret agreement" with the Japanese government, and also said that the Japanese Diet had "not been informed of the move." The story immediately created headlines in Japan, but in a telegram to the Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador Allison wrote that "this trouble-making observation is fortunately balanced somewhat by statement that atomic warheads are, however, not to be brought into Japan."7

Already the following day, on July 29, 1955, Prime Minister Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Shigemitsu appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the house of Councilors. Hatoyama denied any knowledge of an American plan to deploy Honest John rockets in Japan, and said that there was no secret agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments. The Foreign Ministry kept a straight face. Foreign Minister Shigemitsu said that Japan would seek explanation and clarification from the United States, and top foreign ministry officials added that the Japanese government had promised in the Diet that nuclear stockpiling would not be permitted in Japan and that the U.S. was not planning to do so.8

In a telegram to the Secretary of State on July 30, 1955, U.S. Ambassador John M. Allison explained how Prime Minister Hatoyama during the debate in the Diet had said that it was not necessary to have a written pledge that the U.S. would not bring nuclear weapons to Japan. Hatoyama insisted that nuclear bombs and nuclear artillery were "different things altogether," and added that the Japanese government opposed extension of runways for needs of nuclear-armed bombers. Ongoing lengthening was only for jet fighters, he said, and added that the Japanese government was against stationing bombers in Japan.9

While offering these concessions in public, the Japanese government secretly struck a deal with the U.S. according to which Japan agreed to the introduction of the missiles, without the nuclear warheads. This would position the missiles and their crew in Japan. If the international situation should deteriorate to the point where both governments considered the nuclear warheads were needed, then the Japanese government would agree to their being brought into Japan.10

The double standard policy and the many U.S. military requirements in Japan soon made it necessary to rewrite the 1951 Security Treaty. Following a Japanese change in government in late 1956, the United States agreed to the new Prime Minister Nobosuke Kishi's request that the Treaty be revised. During these negotiations, the national debate over U.S. nuclear weapons deepened in Japan, and during the spring of 1957, Kishi repeated foreign minister Shigemitsu's previous (and erroneous) claim that an "Allison-Shigemitsu agreement" assured Japan's nuclear neutrality:11

    The reality of the situation is that the Japanese people have very strong feelings toward nuclear weapons, principally atomic and hydrogen bombs, and the U.S. is well aware that the Japanese would reject this (i.e. introducing nuclear weapons into Japan). Concerning this matter, we have definite statements that such weapons would not be brought in without consulting Japan, arbitrarily without inquiring as to Japan's preference, even if the Security Treaty says it's alright.12
As part of the new security treaty, Kishi wanted to formalize the Allison-Shigemitsu understanding from 1955, in which he considered the United States had agreed not to equip its forces in Japan with nuclear weapons unless the two governments first agreed that such a step was necessary. The U.S. government, refused to clarify these points in the treaty text.13 Although Washington did not agree with the Japanese government's interpretation of the Allison-Shigemitsu meeting (see above), calming the anti-nuclear feelings was more important for the time being to avoid a political crisis. So the U.S. government decided to support the Japanese Prime Minister's deception and announced in public that it did not intend to introduce nuclear weapons into Japan and would consult the Japanese government before making such a decision. The State Department's 1957 intelligence report noted that the public U.S. statement "substantially" validated the "erroneous impression" given by Shigemitsu.14

Ensuring Nuclear Ambiguity.

The problem for the United States, however, went beyond the issue of public credibility. At stake was the ability to deploy and move nuclear forces without ever disclosing their presence - even indirectly by acknowledging another country's non-nuclear policy. By the late 1950s, U.S. nuclear weapons were stored at three bases and routinely shipped through nine others in Japan (in addition to Okinawa).15 This not only included tactical weapons, but also strategic bombs earmarked for use by Strategic Air Command (SAC)'s long-range bombers against targets in the Soviet Union. In 1958, for example, Kadena Air Base hosted both the 30-70 Kilotons Mk-6 and the Mk-30 Mod 0 nuclear bombs.16

The emerging conflict with Japan's anti-nuclear sentiments, combined with a decision at the October 1957 NATO summit in Paris that nuclear weapons deployments in NATO countries had to be done "in agreement" with the host country,17 triggered an internal U.S. effort to design a uniform and coherent policy on how to response to questions about nuclear weapons deployment. On January 2, 1958, eleven officials from the White House, Intelligence, Navy, and Atomic Energy Commission met at the State Department to work out the first details of a U.S. policy towards confirming or denying the presence of nuclear weapons. The result of the meeting was the Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) policy:

    It is the policy of the United States Government concerning any public statements on [foreign government queries about nuclear weapons in their country] neither to confirm nor deny the presence of the nuclear component of nuclear capable weapons in any other country, and that this policy would be followed in the event that U.S. officials are queried with respect to any statement made by an official of a foreign country or by any other source.18
Shortly after the State Department meeting, on January 13, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs formally initiated the NDNC policy:19
    In the event that an official of any other country, desiring to make statements about the presence or absence in their country of the nuclear component of nuclear-capable weapons, queries U.S. officials about so doing, U.S. officials should respond that it is the strong desire of the U.S. that such statements be avoided.

    The inquiring official should be informed that it is the policy of the United States Government concerning any public statements on this subject neither to confirm nor deny the presence of the nuclear component of nuclear-capable weapons in any other country, and that this policy would be followed in the event that U.S. officials are queried with respect to any statement made by an official of a foreign country or by any other source.20

The motivation behind the NCND was the increasing need to fend off queries from foreign governments - rather than protecting against terrorists and Soviet military planning, as was later claimed by U.S. officials. The new policy soon became an important factor in the U.S approach to the security treaty negotiations with Japan. The Japanese government wanted to ensure prior consultation on matters such as introduction of nuclear weapons, but an internal Pentagon report insisted that "there must be no obligation, implied or explicit, to grant Japan a veto power over the employment of U.S. Forces." Even so, there was a realization that it was "altogether unrealistic" to expect to obtain Japanese agreement for the introduction of nuclear weapons, although this "remains highly desirable." Therefore, the report recommended, it "remains advisable to seek to maintain the status quo with respect to [nuclear] weapons in Japan."21

Even if Japan did insist on approving deployment on land, the Pentagon eyed an opportunity to keep at least naval nuclear weapons hidden in the magazines of warships free from Japanese interference. Any consideration over the introduction of nuclear weapons, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations R. Dennison told the Assistant Secretary of Defense in October 1958, applied only to emergency deployments of nuclear weapons, not to nuclear weapons onboard warships in transit through Japanese ports.22 Although the United States was unwilling to agree to treaty language that committed it to seek prior Japanese approval for nuclear deployments in Japan, it agreed in an exchange of formal letters to the "consultation" formula. This meant, in effect, that the United States would withdraw the nuclear weapons tacitly stored in Japan in exchange for its nuclear-armed warships being allowed to continue to transit Japanese ports and territorial waters.23

Politics Versus Military Requirements

Although the political aspects of the U.S.-Japanese security relationship were hammered out during the late-1950s, the new decade witnessed a heating up of the nuclear arms race in the region. The U.S. nuclear posture in the Pacific underwent significant changes in the 1960s that affected the U.S. position on the future status of nuclear forces in Japan and on Okinawa.

Several crises with Communist China over Taiwan and the crisis in Laos resulted in U.S. Pacific forces being put on high alert several times during the early 1960s, prompting CINCPAC to deploy nuclear forces. During 1961, for example, PACOM forces were alerted twice for imminent combat action and combat units were pre-positioned in the Philippines, on Okinawa, or in the South China Sea. Equipment was loaded, and planes and ships stood by ready to move forces into Southwest Asia immediately upon receiving an order to execute the war plans. 24 These crises put to the test a new nuclear war plan introduced by the U.S. in the early 1960s; the Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP).25

On December 31, 1960, for example, forces earmarked to support CINCPAC operations in defense of Mainland Southeast Asia against Communist aggression or insurgency in Southeast Asia, were placed on DEFCON 2 (the defense condition immediately below outbreak of war). Three naval task groups, including the two nuclear strike carriers USS Lexington (CVA-16) and USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), were ordered to depart Okinawa immediately for operations in the South China Sea. Following a week of high alert, the forces were returned to DEFCON 3 on January 6, 1961, and ordered to withdraw from the South China Sea to new locations no more than four hours steaming distance away. Eventually, on February 25, DEFCON 4 was re-established.26

Already the following month, however, tension escalated once more. On March 19, U.S. forces were placed back in DEFCON 3 in response to a deteriorating of the situation in Laos. This alert condition was raised to DEFCON 2 two days later, and four nuclear carriers were called in. The USS Lexington at Okinawa, which had just returned from the previous crisis, and the USS Midway (CVA-41) were ordered to the South China Sea. The other two carriers were the USS Bennington and USS Kearsarge. During April 1961, these four nuclear strike carriers rotated positions in the Western Pacific areas "while maintaining their ability to support contingency and SIOP operations." Following the deployment in mid-April, the USS Midway returned to Yokosuka Naval Base.27

The references to aircraft carriers with SIOP missions deploying in such crises and transiting in and out of both Okinawa and Yokosuka, demonstrate the ease and degree to which U.S. nuclear forces routinely brought not only tactical but also strategic nuclear weapons into Japanese ports during the 1960s even after the "consultation" arrangement with Japan described above.

Moreover, the nuclear capability of these carriers was far from unknown to the Japanese government. In February 1961, for example, the Japanese Chief of the Marine Staff Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) observed a weapons demonstration onboard the two U.S. nuclear strike carriers USS Lexington and USS Hancock. The firepower demonstrations during the three-day cruise to Okinawa included "special weapons loft and over the shoulder delivery techniques" by U.S. Navy nuclear strike aircraft.28

Although the nuclear carriers had unrestrained access to Japanese ports, the U.S. wanted to ensure some form of understanding with the Japanese government about the nuclear armament. During talks between Japanese foreign minister Masayoshi Ohira and U.S. Ambassador Edwin Reischauer in April 1963, Ohira reportedly accepted that nuclear warships could transit Japanese ports.29

Another such nuclear visit occurred in December1965, albeit under more dramatic conditions. On December 7, the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, with nuclear weapons onboard. The carrier was returning from strike operations in the Vietnam War where it was relieved from its war duty at Dixie Station on December 1. While steaming 80 miles off Okinawa on December 5 enroute to Yokosuka, a nuclear weapon loading exercise was conducted onboard. An A-4 strike aircraft was loaded with a B43 hydrogen bomb and rolled onto one of the ship's elevators to be brought up to the flight deck. For reasons that remain unclear, the brakes failed and the aircraft, with the pilot still strapped in his seat, rolled overboard and sank in 16,000 feet of water with its nuclear armament. Neither the pilot, the aircraft, nor the nuclear bomb was ever recovered. The carrier's remaining nuclear weapons were still onboard when the USS Ticonderoga arrived at Yokosuka only two days after the accident.30 Japan was not informed of the accident at the time.

Coincidentally, only a few days before the USS Ticonderoga sailed into Yokosuka with its nuclear armament, the deployment of nuclear weapons in Japan became an issue in response to a Soviet statement at the United Nations. After the Soviets criticized the presence of U.S. troops in Japan and Korea as a serious threat to world peace, the Japanese UN delegation scrambled to clarify to the Japanese press corps that the Soviet statement did not refer to nuclear weapons. A telegram from the U.S. State Department to the Tokyo Embassy directed that the Soviets "did not, in fact, make [the] charge that US nuclear weapons are stored in Japan.... With regard to Japan, we have made it quite clear that we are meticulously abiding by our agreements with [the Japanese government]."31 Apparently, the USS Ticonderoga was not covered by those agreements.

Beyond the introduction of nuclear weapons onboard aircraft carriers, movement of nuclear weapons into Japan in the early 1960s is also evident from the CINCPAC Command History from 1963. Although the details of the pages describing the issue remain classified, the content is disclosed in the History's Table of Contents, which under "Planning for Use of Nuclear Weapons" contains the subheading "Movement of Nuclear Weapons to Japan."32 This reference matches statements made by a former U.S. serviceman, Earl Hubbard, in 1972, who told the Mainichi Shimbun that he flew nuclear weapons from the United States to Japan on several occasions beginning in 1960:

    On a number of occasions over three years beginning in 1960 we carried B-43 small nuclear bombs and others from McCord [Air] Base in Tacoma, Washington, to four bases in Japan: Yokota, Misawa, Johnson (Iruma), and Kadena.33
Such movements of nuclear weapons into Japan onboard ships or aircraft were possible because Japan accepted the ambiguity that followed the U.S. policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons. The 1960 Security Treaty accepted this ambiguity, and the United States was anxious to ensure that Japan continued to do so. When the Soviet Union in 1966 proposed that nuclear weapons states should assure non-nuclear nations that they would not be attacked as long as they did not acquire nuclear weapons, the U.S. State Department warned the Tokyo Embassy that:
    [...] it is possible that the ambiguity [the Government of Japan] has accepted on [the] presence of nuclear weapons on US vessels in Japanese ports and on transiting US aircraft might no longer be accepted. This would drastically reduce the utility of US bases in Japan. 34
A U.S. State Department spokesman subsequently confirmed the authenticity of the telegram, but said it was "imprecisely drafted" and "contrary to what has been asserted," did not indicate "a secret agreement allowing the introduction of nuclear weapons to Japan." 35 In fact, although the document as a whole is imprecisely drafted, the paragraph cited above is very clear and contains no editing whatsoever.36

Nuclear Propulsion Fuels The Controversy

Adding to the controversy over nuclear weapons was the U.S. Navy's determination to begin sending nuclear-powered ships and submarines on "good-will" visits to Japanese ports. At a first glance, nuclear power was a different issue that nuclear weapons, but in Japan, the two quickly became intertwined in the public debate. Yet despite these odds and the risk of further undercutting acceptance of U.S. military forces in Japan, the U.S. Navy pressed ahead with nuclear-powered ship visits. The first visit occurred in November 1964, when the attack submarine USS Sea Dragon arrived in Sasebo amidst large anti-nuclear demonstrations.

This and subsequent visits deteriorated the political situation to such an extent that U.S. inter-agency coordination became necessary. In October 1966, representatives of CINCPAC, CINCPACFLT, the Chief of Naval Operations, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, met at the Pacific Fleet Commander's Headquarters to determine new ways to deal with the Japanese government on port visits to Japan. This effort was met by an almost immediate setback, when the Japanese government decided to postpone a scheduled visit by the nuclear attack submarine USS Snook to Yokosuka later the same month. CINCPAC was forced to withdraw the request, but continued to press for visits by nuclear surface ships in both November and December.37

For CINCPAC, one measure of progress was the number of demonstrators showing up to protest each visit. As the protests failed to stop the visits, the number of demonstrators naturally declined. For CINCPAC, this meant that the policy worked and Japan was gradually being "educated" to accept the nuclear reality of modern naval operations. The record spoke for itself, CINCPAC thought:38

Nuclear Submarine VisitNumber of Protestors
USS Snook (SSN-592), May 1966:51,800
USS Seadragon (SSN-584), September 1966:16,884
USS Sculpin (SSN-590), March 1967:9,245
USS Barb (SSN-596), June 1967:8,334

Forcing a nuclear routine in Japanese ports also carried another benefit: more autonomy. In 1967, CINCPAC was granted authority by the State and Defense Departments to approve nuclear-powered submarine visits. This not only reduced the administrative burden but also demonstrated recognition within the U.S. administration that the policy worked. The only remaining limitation, though, was a requirement to obtain concurrence from the U.S. Ambassador in Tokyo before each visit. There were limits, however, and CINCPAC still had too keep the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of State, the Chief of Naval Operations, as well as the Commander of the Naval Ship Systems Command informed in case they found it necessary to object. Moreover, visits by the more visible nuclear-powered surface ships still required authorization directly from Washington.39

Triggering Three Non-Nuclear Principles

Although the Navy concluded that it was winning a nuclear battle, the nuclear ship visits gradually helped nurture and mature Japan's anti-nuclear policy. In the summer of 1967, this helped to complicate the emerging efforts to return the Ryukyu Islands to Japanese control. Representatives for the Japanese government in both Washington and Tokyo made it clear to the United States that they wanted to negotiate for return of the islands prior to 1970.40 The JCS quickly rejected this, arguing that a "growing aggressiveness" of Communist China and the general situation in Southeast Asia made it "premature" to draw up a timetable for returning the islands to Japan.41

But in other parts of the Pentagon and the State Department, recognition was growing that the issue could not be put off much longer. Internal pressure in Japan was mounting for return of the islands. A memorandum forwarded to President Johnson in August 1967 from the State Department stated that, "reversionist pressures have not yet reached the boiling point." It explained that "the Japanese Government has cooperated up to now in keeping reversionist sentiment in both Japan and the Ryukyus in check [...] but it cannot hold to this position for long."42

After negotiations in November 1967, the two sides could only agree to continue to study the issue. In public, the U.S. expressed "understanding" of the Japanese desire for reversion and Sato's interest in reaching agreement within a few years on a final date for reversion. But in private, Sato was told that the 1968 election and the war in Vietnam prevented the U.S. from giving an answer on Okinawa before 1969 at the earliest. U.S. nuclear requirements in Okinawa were a specific roadblock, and the U.S. conclusion from the talks was that the Japanese government "accepted and fully understood" this position.43

Back in Japan the lack of progress in the negotiations did little to ease the anti-nuclear pressure on the Japanese government. So in December 1967, Prime Minister Sato countered by outlining three non-nuclear principles that would form the basis of Japanese nuclear policy. In response to a question in Parliament, Sato stated:

    With respect to the main islands, we unequivocally apply the three principles: No manufacturing of nuclear weapons; no possession; and no allowing their introduction. Okinawa is handled the same way as the main land.44
Over the following months, Prime Minister Sato and Foreign Minister Miki elaborated on the limits of the policy. Sato felt it was necessary to apply flexibility so the policy could evolve. "It seems to me," he told the House of Representatives Budget Committee on March 17, 1968, "that saying, 'I'm in agreement only with the three principles on nuclear weapons,' that singling out only those principles and chaining the government and the Japanese people to them for eternity, is asking just a little too much."45

Likewise, during a meeting in the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee the following month, Foreign Minister Miki explained the policy's limitations vis--vis nuclear warships. While Japanese ports appeared to be covered by the policy, "just passing through [Japanese] waters does not constitute introducing nuclear weapons into Japan," he explained.46 That statement publicly cleared U.S. warships to sail through Japanese straits with nuclear weapons.

At the same time, however, the U.S. knew that the Sato government was preparing a "major approach" on reversing during 1969. The Japanese position had not been spelled out at that point, and the State Department observed that "the solution to the nuclear issue still escapes Sato." The U.S. expected Sato to permit some form of free use rights for conventional use of Okinawa, but "nuclear storage and delivery from the Ryukyus would require, and not likely receive, Japanese consent," the State Department predicted.47 Indeed, the Japanese "nuclear allergy" appeared as strong as ever. After a trip to Japan and Okinawa in December 1968, Richard Sneider of the State Department reported that the reversion situation had reached "the point of no return." He could see "virtually no hope" of stalling a decision of when to begin reversion beyond the end of 1969.48

Even at this point, while bending under immense public anti-nuclear pressure, the Japanese government was very accommodating on the nuclear question. During a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Johnson on January 10, 1969, Japanese Foreign Minister Aichi "personally and informally" suggested a secret "formula" that would expand Japan's non-nuclear policy to Okinawa as a result of the reversion, but allow for indefinite storage of nuclear weapons on the island. In a telegram to the Secretary of State, Ambassador Johnson described the proposal:49

    [The] bases on Okinawa would 'in principle' revert to 'homeland level' [nuclear policy] at [the] time of reversion of administrative rights; but it would be agreed that they would 'temporarily' retain their present status with respect to 'freedom of use' and nuclear storage until such time as both governments agree that [the] situation in [the] area has changed sufficiently for better to permit 'homeland level'.50
In his report, Ambassador Johnson acknowledged that he had "some doubts" that the Japanese government would in fact be able to get a secret agreement through the Diet permitting the deployment of nuclear weapons on Okinawa even after reversal of the Ryukyu Islands. But he called the proposal "a great advance" in the Japanese government's "coming to grips with hard realities of [the] Okinawa situation."51

During the same meeting, the Japanese Foreign Minister even went so far as to complain over statements made by various prominent Americans that it was no longer necessary to deploy nuclear deployment on Okinawa given the presence of U.S. strategic nuclear submarines in the Pacific. Such statements, he said, made it difficult for the Japanese government to grapple with the question because so little information was available on what was actually stored on the island. It would therefore help, Aichi asked, if the United States would provide the Japanese government with more information about the types and purpose of the nuclear weapons stored on Okinawa.52

But this was not possible, Ambassador Johnson answered, unless Japan was willing to enter a much tighter and more intimate alliance. Sharing of such information would require two things: that Japan accept storage of nuclear weapons on its territory; and that Japan was prepared to enter into an agreement about the formal exchange of such information. Such an agreement, Johnson explained, would be a much closer alliance, comparable to the one that existed between the U.S. and NATO countries. But that, Aichi responded, was not possible.53

The U.S. opposition to Japan's demand that nuclear weapons should be removed from Okinawa was based on two decades of routine deployment of nuclear weapons on Okinawa. During this time, U.S. nuclear operations and deployments had enjoyed complete freedom from Japanese nuclear policy. According to a National Security Council report from April 1969:

    [Okinawa's] value is enhanced by the absence of any legal restrictions on American free access to or use of the bases; which permits storage of nuclear weapons and the launching of military combat operations from these bases.54
These days were coming to an end, however. Sneider's trip report from 1968 concluded that "all are overwhelmingly aware that an offer of continued nuclear storage could be political suicide" for any Japanese government.55 Keenly aware of the seriousness of the situation, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the National Security Council all began studying the implications that a withdrawal of nuclear weapons would have on the U.S. nuclear posture in the Asia-Pacific region. NSC was in no doubt: a reversion of the islands to Japan would make it "necessary to remove the nuclear weapons."56 So the Pentagon had no choice but to look for alternative arrangement for nuclear weapons deployments.57

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2. Peter Hayes, Pacific Powderkeg (Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1991), p. 36. Back

3. Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), March 14, 1955; as cited in Naoki Ohara, "Chronology of Nuclear Weapons Problems in Japan, 1951-1990," Greenpeace Japan, 1991, p. 1. Unpublished draft. Hereafter referred to as Ohara 1991. Back

4. Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), June 27, 1955; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 1. Back

5. U.S. Department of State, Division of Research for Far East, Office of Intelligence Research, "The Relationship of Japan to Nuclear Weapons and Warfare" Top Secret, Washington, D.C., 1957, p. 8. Declassified and released under FOIA.

This document was later described in an article in the Asahi Shimbun (evening edition) on September 3, 1985. Back

6. U.S. Department of State, Division of Research for Far East, Office of Intelligence Research, "The Relationship of Japan to Nuclear Weapons and Warfare" Top Secret, Washington, D.C., 1957, p. 8. Declassified and released under FOIA. Back

7. Telegram, U.S. Tokyo Embassy to Secretary of State, No. 248, July 29, 1955, 1:23 AM. Control Number 14339. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

The U.S. apparently had decided to equip its forces in Japan with nuclear missiles as part of the Eisenhower Administration's New Look strategy. Martin E. Weinstein, Japan's Post War Defense Policy, 1947-1968 (New York: Columbia University press, 1971), p. 82. Back

8. Telegram, U.S. Tokyo Embassy to Secretary of State, No. 266, July 30, 1955, 2:20 PM. Control Number 15228.

An unnamed Far East Command military spokesman [presumably U.S.] was quoted also as denying the existence of a secret agreement but claimed that the Japanese government, in conflict with Prime Minister Hatoyama's assurance to the Diet, had in fact "been advised in advance that rockets were being sent to Japan." Ibid.

This was also the account offered by General John E. Hull, former U.S. Far East commander, in an interview with Associated Press on July 30, 1955, where he stated that he had notified Foreign Minister Shigemitsu on March 25 of the plans to equip its forces in Japan with Honest Johns. Moreover, he stated that he had explained that these missiles could be armed with nuclear or conventional warheads, and that the United States did not intend to put nuclear weapons in Japan except in a war emergency. Martin E. Weinstein, Japan's Post War Defense Policy, 1947-1968 (New York: Columbia University press, 1971), p. 81, footnote 40. Back

9. Telegram, U.S. Tokyo Embassy to Secretary of State, No. 266, July 30, 1955, 2:20 PM. Control Number 15228. Back

10. Martin E. Weinstein, Japan's Post War Defense Policy, 1947-1968 (New York: Columbia University press, 1971), p. 82. Back

11. U.S. Department of State, Division of Research for Far East, Office of Intelligence Research, "The Relationship of Japan to Nuclear Weapons and Warfare" Top Secret, Washington, D.C., 1957, p. 8. Declassified and released under FOIA. Back

12. America's Nuclear Strategy and Japan, [author, publisher, and year unknown] p. 359; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 2. Back

13. Martin E. Weinstein, Japan's Post War Defense Policy, 1947-1968 (New York: Columbia University press, 1971), p. 95. Back

14. U.S. Department of State, Division of Research for Far East, Office of Intelligence Research, "The Relationship of Japan to Nuclear Weapons and Warfare" Top Secret, Washington, D.C., 1957, p. 8. Declassified and released under FOIA. As cited in Peter Hayes, Pacific Powderkeg (Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1991), p. 37.

Much later, in May 1981, Prime Minister Kishi would eventually tell the press that he believed U.S. nuclear-armed warships had called at Japanese ports and passed through Japanese territorial waters. S. Chang, "Japan Leaders Stung by Report From Reischauer," Washington Star, May 20, 1981, p. A11. Back

15. Peter Hayes, et al., American Lake (Australia: Penguin Books, 1986), pp. 85-89. Back

16. U.S. Strategic Air Command, "History of the Strategic Air Command, 1 January 1958 - 30 June 1958," Historical Study No. 73, Volume I, n.d. [1959], p. 90. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

17. Richard A. Ericson, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, letter to Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Olafur Johannesson, August 11, 1980. Back

18. "Approved minutes, meeting of January 2, 1958, Room 5100, New State Building," Operations Coordinating Board, Washington, D.C., January 8, 1958. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

19. U.S. Department of the Navy, Captain W. D. Hahn, "Subject: Neither Confirm Nor Deny Policy", OP-616, X70875, A16216, December 4, 1985, p. 1. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

20. U.S. department of Defense, Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs, signed by Mansfield D. Sprange, January 13, 1958. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

21. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Plans and Policy Division, "Report by the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Security Treaty - Japan" (Secret), JCS 2180/118, September 5, 1958, pp. 909, 910. Modern Military Branch, U.S. National Archives. Back

22. R. Dennison, U.S. Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, "Definition of 'Operational' Use of U.S. Bases," memo to U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), Serial No. 00851P61, Washington., D.C., October 23, 1958, pp. 1-2. Secret. Modern Military Branch, U.S. National Archives. Back

23. M. Weinstein, Japan's Postwar Defense Policy, 1947-1968 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 84; as cited in Peter Hayes, Pacific Powderkeg (Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1991), p. 38. Back

24. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1961," Volume I, April 27, 1962, p. 1. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

25. The SIOP was an attempt to bring together an ever-increasing number of nuclear strike plans under a single overall coordinated plan. Back

26. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1961," Volume I, April 27, 1962, pp. 45-46. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

27. Ibid., pp. 46, 47. Back

28. Ibid., pp. 161-165. Back

29. "Port Calls by U.S. Warships Approved in '63," Kyodo News Service (Tokyo), May 16, 1999. Back

30. William M. Arkin and Joshua Handler, "Naval Accidents 1945-1988," Neptune Papers No. 3, Greenpeace/Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C., June 1989, pp. 4-5, 31, 80. For a description of the Japanese and U.S. reaction to the disclosure of this accident in 1989, see below. Back

31. Telegram, U.S. Department of State to Tokyo Embassy, [no title], State 02008, December 3, 1965, pp. 1, 2. Limited Official Use. Released under FOIA. Back

32. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1963," Volume I, April 27, 1964, pp. ii, 48. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

33. Mainichi Shimbun (evening edition), January 3, 1972. As cited in Ohara 1991, p. 16. Back

34. Telegram, U.S. State Department to Embassy Tokyo, [no subject], February 24, 1966, p. 2. Secret. Reproduced at the Lyndon BN. Johnson Library.

Curiously, the essence of the Soviet proposal later became U.S. policy when the Carter Administration in 1978 formulated the so-called negative security assurances which have since been confirmed by consecutive governments:

The United States reaffirms that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State towards which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state. U.S. Department of State, "Statement by the Honorable Warren Christopher, Secretary of State, Regarding a Declaration by the President on Security Assurances for Non-Nuclear Weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," 5 April 1995. Back

35. "U.S. Denies Reported Accord On Nuclear Arms With Japan," The New York Times, April 12, 1987, p. A12. Back

36. Telegram, U.S. State Department to Embassy Tokyo, [no subject], February 24, 1966, p. 2. Secret. Reproduced at the Lyndon BN. Johnson Library. Back

37. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1966," Volume I, June 3, 1967, p. 95. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

Attempts to "cure" the Japanese public's nuclear allergy were also apparent in the U.S. decision to permit the sale of two Nike surface-to-air missile systems to Japan. The Japanese proposal included Japanese co-production of the missiles, and PACOM considered that it was "important that the Japanese co-produce NIKE missiles to further public acceptance of non-nuclear missiles." Ibid., p. 264. Back

38. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1967," March 28, 1968, p. 130. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

39. Ibid., p. 129. Back

40. Assistant Secretary of Defense, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, "Subject: Reversion of Okinawa and the Bonins," August 7, 1967, p. 1. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

41. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, "Subject: Future Use of Ryukyuan Bases (U)," JCSM-406-67, July 20, 1967, p. 1. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

42. Action Memorandum for the President, [presumably from the State Department], "Subject: Reversion to Japan of the Ryukyus, Bonins and other Western Pacific Islands," Draft, [n.d.], pp. 2, 5. Secret; Attachment to Assistant Secretary of Defense, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, "Subject: Reversion of Okinawa and the Bonins," August 7, 1967, p. 1. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

43. Memorandum, "Japan: Okinawa Reversion," n.d. [1968], p. 3. Secret/Exdis. Attachment to Richard L. Sneider, U.S. State Department, to Mr. Bundy and Ambassador Brown, "Subject: Trip Report: Okinawan Reversion on the Front Burner," December 24, 1968. Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

44. In a plenary session in the House of Representatives on January 30, 1968, Prime Minister Sato added a fourth nuclear principle: the peaceful use of nuclear energy. See Naoki Ohara, "Chronology of Nuclear Weapons Problems in Japan, 1951-1990," Greenpeace Japan, 1991, p. 5. Unpublished draft.

The "three principles" had been stated before this occasion. On April 21, 1967, Prime Minister Sato formulated them during a session of the House of Representatives Audit Committee. Moreover, on October 6, 1967, Defense Agency Director General Masuda stated in the House of Representatives Cabinet Committee that the three principles had in fact been in effect ever since the Kishi government in the late 1950s: "Since the Kishi Cabinet we have had three principles on nuclear weapons as the government's policy: No manufacture, no possession, and no allowing their introduction into Japan." Ibid., p. 4. Back

45. Ohara 1991, p. 5. Back

46. Ibid. Back

47. Memorandum, "Japan: Okinawa Reversion," n.d. [1968], pp. 3, 4. Secret/Exdis. Attachment to Richard L. Sneider, U.S. State Department, to Mr. Bundy and Ambassador Brown, "Subject: Trip Report: Okinawan Reversion on the Front Burner," December 24, 1968. Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

48. Richard L. Sneider, U.S. State Department, to Mr. Bundy and Ambassador Brown, "Subject: Trip Report: Okinawan Reversion on the Front Burner," December 24, 1968, p. 1. Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

49. Telegram, Ambassador Johnson to Secretary of State, [no subject], 110731Z Jan 69, Tokyo 00212, p. 1. Secret/Exdis. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

50. Ibid. Back

51. Ibid. Back

52. Ibid. Back

53. Ibid. Back

54. Memo, Jeanne W. Davies, National Security Council, to Office of the Vice President, "Subject: U.S.-Japanese Relationship: Summary," April 29, 1969, p. 3. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives. Back

55. Richard L. Sneider, U.S. State Department, to Mr. Bundy and Ambassador Brown, "Subject: Trip Report: Okinawan Reversion on the Front Burner," December 24, 1968, p. 2. Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

56. Study, U.S. National Security Council, "NSSM 5 - Japan," Part III: Okinawa Reversion, p. 22. Secret. Attachment to Memo, Jeanne W. Davies, National Security Council, to Office of the Vice President, "Subject: U.S.-Japanese Relationship: Summary," April 29, 1969. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

57. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1969," Volume I, June 18, 1970, p. 67. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

In response to a FOIA request for CINCPAC's brief of this study, the CINCPAC FOIA office said that "no documents" could be located. A subsequent request to JCS for the original study is still processing. Back



 
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