East Asia Nuclear Policy Project
Hans Kristensen Japan Under the US Nuclear Umbrella

Section 3, " The Battle over Okinawa "

The Battle Over Okinawa

The nuclear weapons stored on Okinawa included both strategic and non-strategic weapons. The strategic nuclear weapons were earmarked for long-range B-52 bombers, while the non-strategic weapons included tactical bombs and nuclear air-to-air missiles for use by fighter-bomber aircraft. Among the tactical nuclear weapons were the Genie, an air-to-air missile equipped with the W25 nuclear warhead,58 and the Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile system.59

This forward-deployed nuclear arsenal was earmarked for use "particularly in the early stages of a large-scale conflict with Communist China," and the non-strategic nuclear weapons on the island appear to have been incorporated into virtually every nuclear war plan the U.S. had in the area. According to a National Security Council report from 1969, the non-strategic nuclear weapons on Okinawa "support all PACOM operational plans in general and no one contingency plan in particular."60

The Pentagon favored continuing nuclear deployment even after the reversion, but the new U.S. envoy to Tokyo, Ambassador Brown, disagreed. He argued that such a deployment would be politically impossible and that a withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Okinawa would not significantly weaken U.S. nuclear deterrence or nuclear capability in the area anyway. Nonetheless, in a memo to Secretary of State Rogers from April 29, 1969, Ambassador Brown continued to recommend that, "as a negotiating tactics, we would of cause stress to Japanese leaders this year that denial of nuclear weapons would weaken our capability and deterrence."61

The reality was, Ambassador Brown warned, that "it would be most difficult for Japan to agree to our continued nuclear storage on Okinawa after reversion." 62 He predicted, however, that there was "some possibility, though admittedly slight, of getting emergency rights to bring in nuclear weapons," and recommended this be an objective for subsequent U.S.-Japanese negotiations.63 But Sato removed any hopes for an easy settlement in 1969, when he made it clear that Japan would only accept reversion of the islands if the United States withdrew its nuclear weapons from Okinawa.64 The U.S. options for future nuclear use of Okinawa were spelled out during an inter-agency meeting at the National Security Council on April 30, 1969:

    1. Nuclear Storage and Freedom for Nuclear Operations.

    The denial of nuclear storage and operational rights would reduce the U.S. nuclear capability in the forward area but there is disagreement about the degree of reduction among State, OSD/ISA, and the Joint Staff.

    The six options available in the ascending order of our ability to achieve them and in the descending order of the U.S. security interests in East Asia are:

  • Status quo on nuclear storage and freedom for nuclear operations.
  • Interim nuclear storage and freedom for nuclear operations.
  • Emergency rights to bring in nuclear weapons.
  • Transit rights for nuclear-armed planes and ships.
  • Introduction [of nuclear weapons in case of] weather or humanitarian [emergency] reasons.
  • Homeland level [i.e. same non-nuclear policy on Okinawa as in Japan].
Whatever agreement emerged from the negotiations, the United States was anxious to ensure that friends and foes alike did "not draw erroneous conclusions from any change in our military rights and posture in Okinawa."65 Russian and China should not believe that the U.S. was relaxing its deterrence posture in the region.

The NSC also saw a risk that pressure on Japan to increase its own military spending as a result of a U.S. removal of nuclear weapons from Okinawa could provoke Japan to go nuclear itself. Although it concluded that existing Japanese forces were "adequate to defend Japan in all conventional contingencies except an all-out Soviet attack," NSC warned that Japanese leaders had to remain assured that Japan continued to be safe under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.66

One month after the NSC meeting, President Nixon made his decision. In National Security Decision Memorandum 13 (NSDM-13) from May 28, 1969 (signed by Henry Kissinger), Nixon outlined the U.S. strategy for the negotiations with Japan:

    Our desire [is] to retain nuclear weapons on Okinawa, but indicating that the President is prepared to consider, at the final stages of negotiations, the withdrawal of the weapons while retaining emergency storage and transit rights, if other elements of the Okinawa agreement are satisfactory.67
The formal negotiations began the following year, and already during the first round of Okinawa talks between Japan's Foreign Minister Aichi and U.S. Secretary of State Rogers in June 1969, Aichi reportedly insisted that nuclear weapons be removed from Okinawa. Rogers, in turn, denied media reports that a decision had already been made to remove nuclear weapons from the island. 68

The diplomats were unable to resolve the issue, so in November 1969, Prime Minister Sato arrived in Washington for personal talks with President Nixon in the White House. During the talks, Sato complained that it was difficult for him to discuss the issue of nuclear weapons on Okinawa "because it was not clear officially whether they were present there or not." It was "only natural" for the Japanese government to believe there were nuclear weapons on the island, Sato told Nixon, and he wanted them out. Sato listened to Nixon's concern that it was difficult for the U.S. to discuss the presence of nuclear weapons and make a direct public statement that they had been removed. This, Nixon said, was "the key point," but even at this confidential top-level meeting, as far as the transcript shows, Nixon did not inform Sato of whether there were nuclear weapons on Okinawa or not. 69

Unreported at the time, however, the United States and Japan concluded a secret agreement that allowed the United States to bring nuclear weapons to Okinawa in case of an emergency. This was later revealed by Kai Wakaizumi, the special Japanese envoy to former Prime Minister Sato.70 It did not permit deployment of nuclear weapons in peacetime, and only a few months before the Sato-Nixon meeting, the U.S. State Department had directed its Tokyo Embassy to assure the Japanese government that media reports about nuclear-armed B-52 bombers using Okinawa were not true. In a telegram to the Ambassador, the State Department authorized:

    Your may tell the [Japanese government] privately and not for public release that there is no basis for the various assertions made in the Kyodo story. HICOM or CA may in confidence so inform Yara if appropriate. 71
So some concessions were made, but President Nixon came away from the meeting convinced that Sato could not be persuaded to permit nuclear weapons on Okinawa after the reversion. Since non-nuclear operations from the island were much more important to the U.S. posture in the Asian-Pacific region, however, Nixon chose to trade nuclear weapons for the Japanese cession of greater U.S. flexibility over its use of all bases in Japan, not just Okinawa. 72

President Nixon could make the Okinawa deal because nuclear weapons deployed at sea were unaffected by Japan's nuclear ban. For one thing, U.S. strategic nuclear submarines operating in the waters around Japan were more than sufficient to provide any meaningful nuclear deterrence in the region. Moreover, the U.S. was under the clear impression that the Japanese government had quietly granted the U.S. the right to bring nuclear weapons into Japan onboard visiting warships. This understanding is evident from the April 1969 NSC study that states:

    Japan now acquiesces in transit by naval vessels armed with nuclear weapons. This right would extent automatically to Okinawa [following reversion]. (This is sensitive and closely held information.)73
Protected under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, it would be up to the Japanese government to fend off rumors and allegations of whether U.S. warships carried nuclear weapons or not. The U.S. would continue to neither confirm nor deny such information, but it was confident that Japan approved.

Outside the reach of Japan's nuclear ban, the U.S. Navy's push for nuclear-powered warship visits to Japan continued to fuel the anti-nuclear sentiments in the country. Half a dozen submarines visited Japan throughout 1971, some several times, but surface ships were more controversial.

The nuclear-powered cruiser USS Truxton (CGN-35) arrived in Yokosuka in March 1971 as the first-ever nuclear-powered surface ship to visit Japan. But a subsequent proposal to also visit Sasebo was deferred because of Diet deliberations and changed to Yokosuka. Another nuclear cruiser, the USS Bainbridge (CGN-25), visiting in July was also permitted at Yokosuka but not Sasebo, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo rejected some visits altogether.74

The Japanese government conducted its own radioactive monitoring of ports visited by nuclear-powered ships, and also wanted the U.S. to agree to a predetermined window where no nuclear-powered ships would use the ports so that it could calibrate the instruments. CINCPAC told the Ambassador of certain periods when no nuclear ships were scheduled, but he recommended that the Ambassador did not show the schedule to the Japanese. Although control of Japanese ports rested with the host country, CINCPAC advised the Ambassador, the United States enjoyed blanket clearance for visits of ships processed through a 24-hour notification procedure. Disclosure of a schedule could ultimately restrict nuclear-powered ship visits, CINCPAC feared, by creating a no-visit period while calibration was carried out:75

    Special procedures for NPW [nuclear-powered warships] are detrimental to ultimate normalization actions for these ships. It is recommended that no acknowledgement be made to any procedure which lends reinforcement to this demarcation. CINCPAC position is that waterborne and underwater radiation monitoring of NPW is not required by inherent physical characteristics or operating procedures of NPW.76
In other words, calibration of radiation monitoring equipment was unwanted because it would limit total freedom of nuclear-powered vessels, and radiation monitoring was unnecessary anyway because leaks were impossible.

After reports in the Japanese media in July 1971 that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) had been transferred from the First to the Seventh Fleet, Japanese officials told U.S. Embassy officials that they believed the USS Enterprise should stay away from Japanese ports until after the Diet session that was scheduled in mid-October to discuss and approved the Okinawa reversal agreement. A visit by the USS Enterprise, they said, would provide the opposition with another opportunity to attack the reversion agreement on the ground that the aircraft carrier was a symbol of the U.S. nuclear strike capability.77

The risk for any Japanese government of walking the thin line between a non-nuclear public policy and a secret nuclear policy that accepted nuclear weapons was apparent to both U.S. and Japanese officials. Any indication that nuclear weapons were present on a ship or an aircraft on Japanese territory would be immensely costly for the Japanese government and probably even cause it to fall. Secrecy was paramount.

So in 1971, for example, when the JCS issued new guidelines for reporting of nuclear weapons accidents and incidents in an effort to reduce the risk of outbreak of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Fifth Air Force in Japan asked for higher classification of messages and use of codes when aircraft transited the area "with or without nuclear weapons on" board. Even the word "nuclear" was too controversial.78

Also in 1971, following the Sato-Nixon negotiations and the U.S. conclusion that the Japanese government had accepted nuclear weapons in Japanese ports onboard U.S. warships, The New York Times reported that a secret agreement existed between the two countries that permitted the United States to move nuclear weapons temporarily into Japan despite Japan's ban against nuclear weapons on its territory. The newspaper quoted State Department officials and foreign diplomatic sources that described it as a "transit agreement." Despite the NSC conclusion from April 1969, that "Japan now acquiesces in transit by naval vessels armed with nuclear weapons" (see above), both the State Department and the Japanese Embassy emphatically denied the existence of any agreement, "secret or otherwise, written or oral," as a State Department official expressed it.79

Even the movement of the nuclear weapons from Okinawa was a secret. The acknowledging by U.S. officials that nuclear weapons were being moved from Okinawa to Guam, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, became a media story in Japan because it recognized the existence of the weapons on Okinawa for the first time in public.80 And when the Washington Post reported in July 1971 that the U.S. considered moving some of the nuclear weapons to Taiwan, the State Department directed the Tokyo Embassy to tell the press that the article was "sheer speculation and that we do not discuss the presence or absence of nuclear weapons in specific locations anywhere in the world."81

Again, in October 1971, Japanese press agencies reported from Washington, D.C., that Secretary of State Rogers had told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the U.S. had agreed to remove nuclear weapons from Okinawa.82 If confirmed, this would have been another acknowledgment of what was secret, so the Tokyo Embassy quickly assured the State Department that it had made no comments, but nonetheless requested any background information that Washington could send.83

All these acknowledgments confirmed what many had suspected in the past, but on one had been willing to confirm. Therefore it was even more important for the Japanese government that the Japanese public believed it when it said nuclear weapons would not be present on Okinawa after the reversion. Following claims by a Socialist Diet member that nuclear weapons were still stored at the US Marine Corps Air Station at Iwakuni,84 the Japanese Prime Minister stated during a House of Representatives session on November 6,1971:

    We promise that there will be no nuclear weapons in Okinawa at the time of its return, but since the removal of the weapons is difficult to confirm, we're trying to find a way to do it....There are no secret agreements whatsoever, and I promise there never shall be.85
While it is unclear at what point, or to what extent, the United States provided Japan with formal confirmation at the time that the nuclear weapons were gone from Okinawa, it did provide this assurance to one of Japan's most significant adversaries: China. During President Nixon's historic trip to China in February 1972, Henry Kissinger assured Prime Minister Chou: "We have moved all nuclear weapons off Okinawa. They have already left." And President Nixon echoed: "There are none there."86

The Japanese government would have welcomed such an assurance from the United States in public. After all, if it were no longer necessary to conceal this information from "the enemy," then why couldn't the public be told as well? Prime Minister Sato made it clear in March 1972, that the future of the Japanese government was directly linked to the presence of nuclear weapons on Okinawa. "If there are nuclear weapons in Okinawa after its reversion," he said, "the government will take the responsibility." On this occasion, Sato also explained that the removal of nuclear weapons from Okinawa involved not only nuclear warheads, but also launchers, and communications facilities used only for nuclear weapons.87

When the reversion of Okinawa back to Japan entered into force on May 15, 1972, U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers sent a one-page letter to Japanese Foreign Minister Takeo Fukunda in which he stated:

    [...] the assurances of the Government of the United States of America concerning nuclear weapon on Okinawa have been fully carried out. I wish to take this opportunity to assure Your Excellency anew that the Government of the United States of America has no intention of acting in a manner contrary to the wishes of the Japanese Government with respect to the matters involving prior consultation under [the security treaty].88
Regardless of such assurances, however, U.S. forces at Okinawa continued to be assigned nuclear weapons missions even after the reversion of the island. Although the U.S. Marines did remove their last nuclear weapons from the Okinawa on March 6, 1972,89 the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing at Kadena Air Base continued to be assigned commitments under the SIOP. Even two years after the reversion, the 18th TFW reportedly "increased its SIOP commitment" as part of the updated SIOP plan put into effect on October 1, 1974.90

The 18th TFW was held in a "SIOP non-alert role,"91 which probably meant that nuclear weapons were not stored at Kadena itself, but maintained on stand-by at Guam for re-introduction to Kadena in case of a crises. Indeed, when CINCPAC conducted a nuclear weapons security inspection in the PACOM area in late 1974, only facilities in Guam, Hawaii, Korea, and the Philippines were visited.92

Land-Based Nuclear Reorganizing in the Pacific

The negotiated denuclearization of Okinawa coincided with a major reorganization of U.S. forward-deployed nuclear weapons in the Asia-Pacific region. This reorganization took place in the aftermath of a series of critical inspections of nuclear storage facilities in the region.

In the summer of 1969, a subcommittee delegation of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee conducted a visit to countries in the Far East where the U.S. stored tactical nuclear weapons. The subcommittees' conclusions from 1970 were highly critical of the U.S. policy that guided the forward deployment of nuclear weapons, and the agreements and understandings with the host country about the deployment, use, or withdrawal of these weapons:

    In some countries, however, not all this information was available at the Ambassador level. Even high-ranking military officials in certain countries where such weapons were located did not have precise answers. [...] It was clear that many years had passed since the political implications of the placement of these weapons had been thoroughly considered, if, in fact, they had been so considered. One example: [...] the ranking United States Army officer in [Taiwan] testified he was not aware whether or not nuclear weapons were located on Taiwan.93
At the time nuclear weapons actually were deployed in Taiwan, and were not removed until July 1974,94 but in more than one country visited by the Congressional team, the American Ambassador stated that he professed not to know whether nuclear weapons were there. In several cases where they were located, the American Ambassadors in question said they did not know what understandings with the host country had been arrived at with respect to their possible use.95

The general policy had been to simply add more and more nuclear weapons to forward-located storage sites. The investigation found that "in but one known case - this because of a change in delivery systems - has the number of such weapons been reduced."96

In addition to this severe criticism, increased fear of the physical security of forward-deployed nuclear weapons from terrorist attack caused the JCS to order in 1974 that the requirements for nuclear weapons deployment should be reevaluated. In response, CINCPAC suggested the following:97

  • The phase-out of nuclear anti-submarine warfare;
  • The phase-out of nuclear anti-air warfare;
  • The phase-out of atomic demolition munitions;
  • Retaining air-launched and surface-to-surface nuclear weapons.
CINCPAC proposed limiting the forward deployment of the remaining nuclear weapons to Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, South Korea, and ships and submarines. Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan were not on the list. CINCPAC also proposed a plan for phasing nuclear weapons out of South Korea as the Korean security situation permitted.98 The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy himself went on a tour of PACOM's facilities in September, but found "no immediate problems" with physical security. He did nonetheless raise three significant questions about the nuclear posture in the Pacific:99
  • Nuclear weapons stored ashore in the Western Pacific were "well in excess" of requirements;
  • The number of nuclear storage sites in use could be reduced;
  • The security teams had differences in threat perception and/or response, with the emphasis being on procedures to prevent unauthorized access, rather than the ability to defeat or repulse a carefully planned, aggressively executed terrorist attack.
While the staff was working on the details of nuclear weapons deployment, CINCPAC instructed his Inspector General to inspect nuclear storage sites throughout the PACOM, emphasizing site security against violent attack. This inspection lasted from October through the end of the year, and visited the following nuclear weapons storage facilities in the PACOM area:100
    Guam: Sites visited were Andersen Air Base, the Naval Air Station at Agana, the Naval Magazine at Guam, and the USS Proteus (AS-19).

    Hawaii: Sites visited on Oahu were Waikele and West Loch Branches of the Naval Magazine at Lualualei; the Naval Air Station at Barbers Point; and Hickam Air Force Base. The team observed actual movement of nuclear weapons between the Waikele and West Loch Branches, and nuclear weapons transit of Hickam, and the simulated movement of Army nuclear weapons from Waikele to Barbers Point.

    Philippines: Sites visited were Clark Air Base and the Naval Air Station at Cubi Point.

    South Korea: Sites visited were Osan Air Base, Kunsan Air Base, Kwang Ju Air Base, Camp Ames, Camp Colbern, and Batteries A-F of the 44th Air Defense Artillery's 2nd Battalion.

In addition to the military's own assessments, the General Accounting Office (GAO) survey in January 1976 investigated the adequacy of transport capability and security for contingency movement of nuclear weapons deployed overseas. GAO also completed a survey in August of the Defense Nuclear Agency's accountability system for nuclear weapons deployed on Guam.101

Faced with the critique of its nuclear posture, CINCPAC was forced to pick and choose which nuclear weapons were most important. Some were bound to go. Not surprisingly, CINCPAC wanted to replace the aging nuclear missile systems Nike Hercules and Honest John in South Korea with the newer Lance surface-to-surface system. But it also wanted to retain the Nike Hercules' anti-air capability. Storing the older systems temporarily at Guam, however, would require building additional and expensive storage facilities, so CINCPAC's Army Commander recommended moving the old weapons back to Continental United States (CONUS). A presidential review could take additional time, however, stranding the Lance indefinitely in CONUS, so the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided that Lance would be moved to Guam temporarily and the older weapons remain in South Korea until the review had been completed. By December 31, 1976, all 54 authorized Lance nuclear warheads were in place on Guam completing the initial deployment of this system to PACOM.102

Another part of PACOM's nuclear reorganization involved the nuclear weapons stored in the Philippines. Four days after the JCS gave the green light for planning on November 6, 1976, CINCPAC's issued the order to move the weapons on November 10. The code-name for the top-secret operation was Commando Flight. Due to the highly sensitive nature of the operation and the need to minimize visibility and risk of public disclosure, CINCPAC ordered that all non-essential visitors be prohibited access to the locations. One of these locations was Cubi Point naval station, where between November 20 and 28, a total of 140 nuclear weapons were loaded onboard the ammunition ship USS Flint (AE-32) and transported back to the United States. By using this means of transportation, as opposed to airlift, planners were able to save $700.000. 103

When CINCPAC's Inspector General performed its routine inspections of PACOM nuclear weapons storage sites the following year, the locations were Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and South Korea.104 Neither Japan nor the Philippines were any longer on the list.

The Battle Over Midway

No sooner had the nuclear weapons left Okinawa in 1972 before the ship visit issue resurfaced in Japan. The U.S. Navy wanted to homeport the nuclear-capable aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) in Yokosuka, and during U.S.-Japanese talks in Hawaii on August 31, 1972, Japanese officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were advised of the deployment possibility for the first time. In a candid acknowledgement of U.S. nuclear weapons in Japanese ports and the Japanese government's acceptance, CINCPAC stated in its annual report from 1972:

    While the Japanese government had tacitly accepted nuclear weapons on ships entering and departing Japanese ports in the past, homeporting could surface the issue to a degree that would not permit continued tacit approval. 105
This statement, which confirms the assessment made in the NSC in its 1969 report (see above), demonstrates that the Japanese government, at least in the opinion of the U.S. administration, also after the reversal willingly "turned a blind eye" to U.S. Navy ships bringing nuclear weapons into Japan. "Advanced consultation," as called for in the Security Treaty as a requirement prior to major changes in the deployment of U.S. armed forces or in their equipment into Japan,106 continued not to cover nuclear weapons onboard ships. Nonetheless, the Japanese government continued to say in public that it did. During a session of the House of Representatives Cabinet Committee in April 1972, Defense Agency Director General Ezaki reportedly assured that:
    Even passing through Japanese waters would constitute introducing nuclear weapons into Japan, and this would therefore require prior consultation.107
Previously, nuclear weapons had only transited through Japanese waters and ports, but homeporting an aircraft carrier in a Japanese port would also "homeport" the nuclear weapons there as well. Regardless of various interpretations of the term "introduction" in relation to nuclear weapons, "homeporting" nuclear weapons in Japan onboard an aircraft carrier despite Japan's non-nuclear principles would be difficult to explain. Internally in the U.S. administration, the State Department and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) were in open disagreement over how to solve the issue. The State Department wanted the nuclear weapons onboard the USS Midway to be removed prior to entry into Japanese port, but this suggestion was rejected by the CNO as "operationally unacceptable."108 The USS Midway would bring nuclear weapons into Japan as a matter of routine.

Despite the nuclear armament, the Japanese government eventually agreed to the homeporting of both the USS Midway and six other warships in Japan.109 The homeporting of the six destroyers was approved by the Japanese government in August 1971, but the carrier was a more problematic issue. For the Japanese government, the "solution" was to portray the USS Midway's homeporting as temporary (three years). Despite its assurance only 18 months earlier (see above) that even transit of nuclear weapons through national waters would require prior consultation, the Foreign Ministry told the Asahi Shimbun in September 1973 that "This is not homeporting, and does not require advance consultation; there is no problem with regard to the U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty."110

With the Japanese government avoiding use of the word "homeporting" in public, the U.S. Navy also decided to use a less volatile word. As a result, "homeporting was called 'extended deployment'." The Major of Yokosuka, who had formerly opposed to USS Midway's arrival, eventually stated in public his readiness to conditionally permit U.S. carriers to use Yokosuka as their "mother port." And the Director General of the Japanese Defense Agency (JDA) stated that the carrier homeporting was inevitable and indicated that the Japanese government would yield to the U.S. request.111

The U.S. government did not invoke "prior consultation" despite the USS Midway's nuclear armament and the U.S. government's knowledge about Japan's non-nuclear sentiments. The carrier was considered U.S. territory, and since the nuclear loadout would remain onboard the carrier at all times (except during dry-dock periods in Japan prior to which the nuclear weapons would be transferred temporarily to an ammunition ship outside Japanese territorial waters), no deployment on Japanese territory had technically occurred. Besides, any information about the nuclear weapons would be hidden thanks to the Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy.

With both countries "turning a blind eye" to violation of Japan's nuclear ban, USS Midway's arrival was awash in trouble from the beginning. When the carrier sailed into Yokosuka on October 5, 1973, it was greeted by large demonstrations. In a futile attempt to calm the emotions, the Japanese government assured:

    When there is no fear of war, and with limited armaments, it is unthinkable that the carrier would be carrying nuclear weapons, which it does not normally use; the U.S. fully respects our Three Non-Nuclear Principles.112
The assurance did little to calm the protesters, however, and the International Anti-War day in Tokyo was only two weeks away. So the Japanese government privately asked that the USS Midway leave Yokosuka for a while in order not to inflame demonstrations. The U.S. Navy immediately objected to the request, but was overruled by the Defense Department which decided it was in the best long-term U.S.-Japan interest for the ship to leave during the event.113 After the Anti-War day, the USS Midway returned to port presumably with its nuclear armament still onboard.

Beyond the willingness of the Japanese and U.S. governments to "turn a blind eye" to the violation of Japan's nuclear ban, it was the Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy that more than anything made the deceit possible. While officially intended to protect the ship against terrorists and complicate enemy military planning, the policy really served as a smoke-screen under which U.S. Navy warships could get access to foreign ports regardless of the nuclear policy of the host country.

One year after USS Midway began its homeporting in Japan, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Morton Halperin gave the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee a blunt, but for the Japanese government very compromising, description of the role of the neither confirm nor deny policy in relation to Japan's nuclear ban. According to Halperin, the policy was:

    ...developed initially in a period in which nuclear weapons were looked upon with a kind of mysticism as something very different [...] and in which we were not going to talk about where these weapons are. It was a natural outgrowth of that and from fear, as I say, particularly in the Navy but also in other services, that if the word got out there were nuclear weapons in Germany or on Okinawa or other places, you might have a domestic opposition in those countries to the stationing of the weapons which would make it impossible to continue to store them there.

    [The purpose of the policy was] "certainly not to keep the Russians or the Chinese guessing. Rather, the policy is aimed at the public in allied countries, and at governments prepared to let the US store nuclear weapons on their soil, or to have ships with nuclear weapons call at their ports; provided that their people do not find out.

    Just take one example which will illustrate this, which I think is probably the least kept secret of all our nuclear deployment, the deployment of nuclear weapons in Okinawa. Everybody in Japan I spoke to, government officials, newspaper-men, or scholars, told me there were nuclear weapons in Okinawa, and I also told them I could neither confirm nor deny that fact. So it was certainly not a secret from them, not a secret from the Russians whose satellites took pictures of storage sites, but it is the case if the United States said publicly on the record there were nuclear weapons on Okinawa, there would have been increasingly domestic opposition in Japan and Okinawa to the stationing of those nuclear weapons. I think that we should not be storing nuclear weapons in countries where there will be domestic opposition if we admit we are storing, but the fact is we do store them. We do have ships with nuclear weapons calling on ports of such countries and as long as that is the case the military will resist confirming or denying the presence of nuclear weapons anywhere.114

A few months after Halperin's testimony, in September 1974, Admiral Gene La Rocque, retired Navy commander of several nuclear-capable warships, bluntly testified before the U.S. Congress' Joint Committee on Nuclear Energy that nuclear weapons had been brought into Japan as a matter of routine:
    My experience [...] has been that any ship that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons, carries nuclear weapons. They do not offload then when they go into foreign ports such as Japan or other countries. If they are capable of carrying them, they normally keep them aboard ship at all times except when the ship is in overhaul or in for major repair.115
The statements by Morton Halperin and La Rocque naturally received extensive coverage in the Japanese media, and the Japanese government was forced to provide an explanation. On October 7, the Japanese government presented its official comments:
    Introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan requires advance consultation pursuant to the Security Treaty. Observing the promises indicated in official exchanged documents concerned with advanced consultation is to the U.S. an obligation connected with the Security Treaty. In view of the fact that this treaty is based upon the relationship of trust between our two nations, the [Japanese] government has not the slightest doubt that the U.S. will abide by its promises. Which of the U.S. naval vessels are carrying nuclear weapons is a military secret, and in order to maintain this secrecy the U.S. government never reveals the existence of nuclear weapons, neither confirming nor denying their presence. Checking each vessel is not something the [Japanese] government is in a position to do, and we see the U.S. position as only natural.116
In Washington, D.C., the U.S. State Department commented that U.S. obligations were contained in the 1960 exchange of official documents between then Japanese Prime Minister Kishi and U.S. Ambassador Harter about prior consultation. There had been no change in the U.S. position "to abide by these documents," the State Department assured, but the U.S. would continue not to disclose the presence of nuclear weapons anywhere. As for Admiral La Rocque's statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Peacher commented that it was "that of an individual, and is not the view of the U.S. government."117

As so many times before, the U.S. did not comment on whether it had abided by Japan's three nuclear principles, only on the provisions of the Security Treaty. So rumors continued about the routine violation of Japan's nuclear ban. On October 7, 1974, The New York Times reportedly quoted a Pentagon source as saying that the U.S. already had notified Japan that U.S. warships calling at Japanese ports were nuclear armed.118

The report was rejected by the U.S. government the next day, following a meeting between U.S. Acting Secretary of State Robert Ingersoll and Japanese Ambassador Takeshi Yasukawa. In a statement the U.S. government assured that it had faithfully honored its commitments to Japan under the security treaty and related arrangements, and that it "understands deeply [...] the particular sentiments of the Japanese people against nuclear weapons."119 A State Department spokesperson also added that the "U.S. and Japan have never conducted an advance consultation, and thus I think the conclusion is clear."120

What conclusion to draw, however, was not clear at all. Had the United States abided by Japan's nuclear ban, or had it just abided by its understanding of "prior consultation." If it did not consider a ship visit introduction of nuclear weapons since this did not represent a significant change to U.S. forces in Japan, why would "prior consultation" be triggered at all by a ship visit? And if nuclear weapons were indeed offloaded from U.S. warships prior to entering Japan, where was the large fleet of ammunition ships that would be required to carry out such a considerable task? In the end it was a question of trust, as expressed by the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S.:

    What it all comes down to is whom you're going to believe: the U.S. government or the La Rocque statement. The Japanese government will of course put its trust in the U.S. government.121
Despite the severity of the situation, the Commander of U.S. forces in Japan (COMUSJAPAN) later found some relief in a Japanese newspaper poll that reported that on a list of the ten most important issues, newspaper editors listed the La Rocque testimony as number seven, while readers did not list it at all. This, according to the Commander, underscored the unpredictable character of the nuclear problem in Japan. On one hand, it could indicate that the Japanese people did not believe they could change the U.S. and Japanese governments' response to allegations about U.S. nuclear weapons on Japanese territory. If so, this would suggest that established U.S. policy on this sensitive issue had been more effective than generally realized. On the other hand, CONUSJAPAN said, it was also possible that the Japanese people valued the U.S.-Japanese alliance too much to jeopardize it over what they perceived as a more secondary issue.122

Onboard the ships themselves, however, the protests were serious enough. When the La Rocque story broke, the USS Midway had just returned to Yokosuka from operations off South Korea. The ship's annual report later commented that "much of the furor was domestic politiking [sic], but Midway, as a highly visible symbol of American military power and nuclear deterrent, became a political hot potato." As a result, only nine days after returning to Yokosuka, the USS Midway was ordered back to sea prematurely.123

Despite the many official assurances of the integrity of the bilateral arrangements, the Japanese government soon found it necessary to explain its policy once again. In January 1975, in response to questions in the Diet, the Japanese government issued a formal written statement, which, among other things, read:

    As to the Naval ships which are constantly equipped with nuclear weapons, their passage through our territorial waters or calls at the ports of our country are considered to come under the category of bringing in nuclear weapons. 124
This statement was problematic for the U.S. because it meant - at least in terms of policy - a Japanese reversal of the "tacit acceptance" of nuclear weapons on transiting warships and aircraft. It also implied that introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan would no longer require actual deployment on land.

These indications were particularly worrisome to CINCPAC, because Japan was in the process of expanding its territorial waters from three to twelve nautical miles. In December 1975, Japan Defense Agency Defense Bureau Director Maruyama implied that the twelve-nautical mile zone would also expand Japan's three-point non-nuclear principle and thus restrict movement of U.S. (and other) nuclear weapons-carrying ships, most importantly through the strategically important Tsugaru Strait. That same month, Prime Minister Miki told the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee that:125

    [...] even in the event territorial waters are extended to 12 nautical miles, the Government of Japan will not change the present three-point non-nuclear principle for application to areas under Japanese control....126
The Prime Minister's statement would appear to confirm that Japan's nuclear ban would naturally expand along with the territorial border. CINCPAC, however, took the statement to mean "a Japanese readiness to acknowledge free passage of nuclear-carrying warships" through the strait even after it was included in the Japanese territorial waters under a 12-mile rule.127 A misinterpretation, perhaps, but ensuring such an acknowledgment was essential for CINCPAC because Japanese authorities in some cases had interfered with the free movement of nuclear-capable ships. According to one U.S. Navy document from October 1976, the words "nuclear weapons" should not even be mentioned ashore because:
    [...] ships have been refused entrance to Japan and required to get underway from Japan because of rumors that Nuclear Weapons were on board and because someone mentioned Nuclear Weapons on liberty one time.128
With both U.S. and Japanese governments continuing to "turn a blind eye" to violations of Japan's three nuclear principles, the controversy seemed to have no end in sight. The "nuclear allergy" will continue to be a "strong political factor whenever the issue of the presence/transit of U.S. nuclear weapons in or through Japan was raised," CINCPAC concluded in its military/political assessment of Japan in September 1977. Yet CINCPAC also concluded that the Japanese government - although publicly adhering to its three non-nuclear principles - "had supported U.S. options for nuclear weapons deployments/employment."129

Korean Crisis Brings Nuclear Weapons To Japan

Nuclear-armed aircraft carriers transiting Japanese harbors were routinely used in response to crises in the region during the 1970s. Much like in the 1960s, the value of an aircraft carrier always being loaded with nuclear weapons and ready to respond on very short notice was demonstrated in connection with the assassination of South Korea's President Park Chung Hee in October 1979. The case involves the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), which prior to this event and throughout its deployment, underwent an extensive program of nuclear weapons training and inspections:

  • In February 1979, in preparation for its overseas deployment, the USS Kitty Hawk completed a Nuclear Weapons Acceptance Inspection (NWAI) and a Operational Readiness Exam (ORE) which "measured the KITTY HAWKS ability to successfully provide security for and deliver special weapons."130

  • In early June, while underway from the U.S. East Coast to Hawaii, the Operations Department onboard conducted a strike planning exercise. Tasked by the Commander of the Third Fleet in coordination with CINCPAC, the exercise involved multiple targets and a full planning evolution. The objective was to test the speed with which CINCPACFLT could get the planning information to the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and to see how long it would take to receive NMCC approval to conduct the planned strikes. All sorties were given a very high probability of arrival in the target area.131

  • In late July, the USS Kitty Hawk's nuclear weapons security force (Marine Detachment) took part in a Nuclear Weapons Readiness Exercise.132 The exercise, which took place in the middle of search assistance operations for Vietnamese "boat people" in the South China Sea, was a "full weapon-to-aircraft movement and loading drill" which was intended to "exercise the weapons movement, special equipment, and security aspects of a large special [nuclear] weapons loadout." A nuclear weapons accident/incident drill was also conducted.133

  • In early October, only two days before the USS Kitty Hawk arrived in Yokosuka, the anti-submarine wing on the carrier conducted an anti-submarine exercise with nuclear weapons. The objective of the ASW READINEX ALFA exercise was to keep a simulated depth bomb airborne for an extended period cyclic operations. Load on SH-3H helicopters and S-3A fixed-wing aircraft, the weapons were continuously airborne for over eight hours.134 According to the Operations Department's history:

      Since this evolution was conducted concurrent with full cyclic operations, the flight deck had to accommodate the wire checking of aircraft and weapons loading without negative impact on flight deck operations or special weapons evolutions. Command control procedures were exercised....135

  • In late October, only one week after the Kitty Hawk completed its ten-day visit to Yokosuka, the carrier was ordered to break off participation in an exercise, and steam to a position off the coast of North Korea in the East China Sea. The objective was "to demonstrate support for and in position to assist South Korea in the event of aggression from the north."136

  • In mid-November, while en route from South Korea to the Philippines, the USS Kitty Hawk conducted a nuclear power projection exercise code-named Readinex Alfa.137 The exercise was an eight-sortie strike and culminated in "the fly-off of 11 BDUs [Bomb Dummy Units] belonging to the Naval Air Station Cubi Point maneuver pool." An abbreviated planning evolution included fuel management and weapon track planning aspects. One pilot was selected to fully plan his mission and debrief CTF [Carrier Task Force] Seven Seven [77].138 At Subic Bay in the Philippines, the ship's nuclear weapons division ("W" Division) was granted permission to conduct "low key squadron proficiency loading exercises on the hangar deck and flight deck while at Alava Pier."139
These events, all from official U.S. Navy documents from the ship itself, leave little doubt about the nature of USS Kitty Hawk's mission and armament and suggest that also in this case, Japan's three non-nuclear principles were violated.

Nuclear Procedures For Forward Deployed Carriers

Most aircraft carriers were able to use Japanese ports for port visits but had resort to return to shipyard facilities in the United States for major repair and training. But in case of the forward deployment of the USS Midway in Japan, special nuclear weapons procedures were necessary. This not only related to nuclear weapons training, but also to actual handling of the nuclear weapons when the ship went into dry-dock in Yokosuka.

During a transit by the US Midway from Japan to the Philippines in November 1978, for example, nuclear weapons inspectors from the U.S. Pacific Fleet came onboard to "evaluate and recertify MIDWAY's capability to perform assigned nuclear tasking."140 Normally, a carrier assigned nuclear weapons missions would conduct a major portion of its nuclear weapons certifications in port, but the inspection team's final report reveals how Japan's nuclear allergy affected the ship's nuclear weapons training:

    The USS Midway is continuously forward deployed to an area where political sensitivity precludes establishment of formal schools on, or inport training with special weapons. The highly successful completion of the DNSI [Defense Nuclear Surety Inspection] and NTPI [Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection] is indicative of the command attention given to the exceptional screening and training measures required in this environment.141
Much like during nuclear carrier operations in the 1960s, nuclear events often occurred amidst visits by presumably unknowing Japanese guests. While the Midway was on its way from Japan to the Philippines, only nine days prior to the ship's nuclear weapons recertification, a large Japanese delegation of 36 retired officers from the Japanese Self Defense Force came onboard to observe flight operations at sea. The visit followed an earlier visit in September by 16 members of the Japanese Defense Agency Press.142

The "special weapons" training away from Japanese ports also continued during the 1980s. During 1984 and 1985, according to one account, the Japan-based USS Midway conducted on-board nuclear weapons accident drills on 18 and 14 occasions, respectively.143

In addition to the nuclear training and inspections, special nuclear arrangements also existed for aircraft carriers that entered dry-dock in Japan. Although a secret "verbal understanding" between Japan and the United States permitted U.S. warships to retain their nuclear armament onboard while operating in Japanese waters and harbors (see below), the agreement did not permit the weapons to be unloaded in Japan or stored there. This created specific problems for U.S. warships homeported in Japan. Back in the United States an aircraft carrier, for example, was required to offload all its weapons at a naval weapons station or in the homeport prior to entering a dry-dock for repair. But in Japan the secret offloading of over a hundred nuclear bombs in port could result in severe political consequences because of Japan's nuclear ban.

This was particularly relevant for the USS Midway, which due to its forward homeporting in Yokosuka was in a unique situation. As the only U.S. aircraft carrier based in a foreign port in the mid-1980s, the nuclear weapons Division (the W Division) onboard the USS Midway, was "the only 'W' Division in the Navy that routinely offloads and onloads weapons at sea."144 Prior to entering dry-dock, the USS Midway would rendezvous with an ammunition ship outside Tokyo Bay and transfer its nuclear ordnance temporarily to the storage ship. Once the dry-dock period was completed, the carrier would sail out again and pick up nuclear weapons from the same or another ammunition ship and return to Yokosuka to finish preparations for the next deployment.145

It is unclear whether such nuclear offloads occurred prior to every dry-dock period or only on certain occasions, but the information appears to confirm several reports in Japan over the years, where offloads of nuclear weapons from the USS Midway were rumored to have taken place before maintenance in Yokosuka. In February 1980, according to a report in Asahi Shimbun, the USS Midway reportedly transferred its nuclear weapons after returning from an extended deployment. Another such transfer reportedly happened on June 3, 1981, following previous nuclear weapons accident drills onboard the ship.146

Another nuclear weapons transfer may have occurred in the summer of 1984 following a two-month dry-dock period in Yokosuka. After two days of nuclear weapons accident drills on August 18 and 20, the USS Midway rendezvoused with the nuclear-capable ammunition ship USS Flint (AE-32) on August 21 in the waters south of Tokyo Bay. Following replenishment, the two ships sailed together into Sasebo where they anchored for three days. Following that, the USS Flint continued south to Okinawa, while the USS Midway sailed for Yokosuka, presumably with a standard complement of nuclear weapons onboard.147 The procedure for onload of nuclear weapons onboard the USS Midway in the mid-1980s was as follows:

    Weapons are received on board at the transfer station [...] on deck edge elevator at hangar deck level [...] via the selected CONREP method. As the weapons are lowered to the deck and unhooked, the nuclear weapons logistics officer (receiving courier) assumes custody. Four men from the "W" Division, or weapons handlers assigned from the weapons department, take the weapon in hand and immediately move it clear of the transfer station. Under the supervision of a weapons handling officer and accompanied by an armed guard, the weapon is moved over the hangar deck to the designated SASS [Special Ammunition Storage Space] elevator. The weapon is moved into the elevator, brakes set as applicable, casters angled and locked, four-point tiedowns applied, and the elevator lowered to the SASS spaces.148

Nuclear weapons personnel assigned to the USS Midway in the mid-1980s included a Special Weapons Unit, a Special Weapons "Asem N" group, a "W" Division with a requirement for 53 crewmen, and several designated Special Weapons Watch and Handling Station teams.149

Carriers that were not homeported in Japan, but were forced to use the Yokosuka dry-dock following serious accidents such as collisions, may also have followed the same special nuclear procedures as the USS Midway. One such example involves the USS Ranger (CV-61), which in late 1978 was undergoing preparations at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego on the U.S. West Coast for its overseas deployment to South East Asia. Following a Nuclear Weapons Acceptance Inspection (NWAI), the ship loaded nuclear weapons onboard and departed San Diego in early 1979.150

USS Ranger's deployment, however, was hampered by a collision with the Liberian oil tanker Fortune in early April, which forced the carrier to sail to Subic Bay in the Philippines for emergency bow repairs at pierside. An approaching typhoon prematurely forced the carrier back out to sea for two days for evasive operations. After two more days of repairs, the USS Ranger continued to Yokosuka, Japan for a week of more extensive bow repair in dry-dock followed by a second dry-dock period in August for replacement of the entire bow.151

In contrast with nuclear weapons offloads in connection with dry-dock periods, U.S. aircraft carriers calling at Japanese ports would keep their nuclear weapons onboard at all times.

Go to next section

58. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1967," March 28, 1968, Volume I, pp. xiii, 74, and Volume II, pp. 1000, 1026, 1028.

The pages of the 1967 History that describe the reversion of the Ryukyu Islands all remain classified. Yet the History's index pages identify the Genie as part of the content of those pages. Moreover, the History's glossary defines the Genie as "an air to air unguided rocket equipped with nuclear warhead," unlike the Falcon missile which is only defined as "an air to air guided missile." One version of the Falcon missile, however, did exist in a nuclear version (the GAR-11) and may also have been deployed at Okinawa. The unclassified portions of the CINCPAC History, however, do not allow for a definite assessment about the presence of the nuclear version of this missile. Back

59. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1968," May 8, 1969, pp. 77, 314. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

One page of the 1969 History that describes the reduction of military forces in Japan is identified in the unclassified index pages as including a description of the Nike Hercules system. Since there is only one deleted section on the page, it is possible that this concerns the nuclear Nike Hercules system. Back

60. Study, U.S. National Security Council, "NSSM 5 - Japan," Part III: Okinawa Reversion, p. 23. 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

61. Memo, Ambassador Brown to Secretary Rogers, "Subject: NSC Meeting April 30 - Policy Toward Japan," April 29, 1969, p. 2. Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. This document is available on the Internet at. Back

62. Ibid. Back

63. Ibid. Back

64. S. Harrison, The Widening Gulf: Asian Nationalism and American Policy (New York: Free Press, 1978), p. 284, as cited in Peter Hayes, Pacific Powderkeg (Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1991), p. 45. Back

65. 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. Back

66. Memo, Jeanne W. Davies, National Security Council, to Office of the Vice President, "Subject: U.S.-Japanese Relationship: Summary," April 29, 1969, p. 6. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives. Back

67. National Security Decision Memorandum 13, "Subject.: Policy Toward Japan," National Security Council, Washington, D.C., May 28, 1969, p. 2. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland.

The existence of this document was first reported by columnist Jack Anderson in June 1979. See: Jack Anderson, "U.S. Skirted Japan's A-Weapon Ban," Washington Post, June 25, 1979. Back

68. Mainichi Shimbun, June 4, 1969; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 7. Back

69. Memorandum of conversation, Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and President Richard Nixon, November 19, 1959, 11:00 a.m., The White House, Washington, D.C., p. 2. Top Secret. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

70. "Foreign Minister Denies Secret Japan-U.S. Nuclear Deal," Japan Economic Newswire, May 10, 1994.

After Wakaizumi made his claim in 1994, Japanese Foreign Minister Koji Kaizawa immediately denied the report saying "such a secret agreement does not exist as the government has been saying." Ibid. Back

71. Telegram, U.S. Department of State to Embassy Tokyo, "Subject: Alleged Nuclear B-52 Flights from Okinawa," State 181097. October 24, 1969, p. 1. Limited Official Use. Released under FOIA.

The assurance that B-52 bombers using Okinawa were not nuclear armed at the time appears to have been correct. On January 22, 1968, one day after a nuclear-armed B-52 had crashed in Northern Greenland, Strategic Air Command "terminated the carrying of nuclear weapons onboard airborne alert indoctrination level missions. No publicity is being given [to] this fact." The National Military Command Center, Marshal B. Garth, Brigadier general, USAF, Deputy Director for Operations (NMCC), Memorandum For The Record, "Subject: B-52 Crash," January 24, 1968. Reproduced at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library. Back

72. Peter Hayes, Pacific Powderkeg (Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1991), p. 46. Back

73. Study, U.S. National Security Council, "NSSM 5 - Japan," Part III: Okinawa Reversion, p. 25. 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.

U.S. efforts to ensure quiet acceptance of nuclear-armed warships is not only apparent from Japan but also extended to naval operations throughout the world, including to African countries. In response to African attempts to create a nuclear weapons free zone in the 1960s, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara informed the State Department in November 1963 of "the need to develop at least tacit understanding with certain key African countries not to raise the nuclear question insofar as transit rights and ship visits are concerned. Letter, Robert S. McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense, to Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, November 30, 1963, p. 2. Reproduced at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

74. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1971," May 31, 1972, p. 198. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

75. Ibid., p. 199. Back

76. Ibid. Back

77. Ibid.

Not only did the USS Enterprise stay away that year, no U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier would visit a Japanese post again until March 21, 1983, when the same ship visited Sasebo in the first nuclear-powered carrier visit in 12 years. A second visit took place on October 1, when the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) called at Sasebo. U.S. Navy, "Command History of the Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet 1 January 1983 - 31 December 1983," n.d. [1984], p. 33. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

78. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1972," Volume I, August 31, 1973, pp. 247-248. Confidential. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

79. Richard Halloran, "Pact Said to Let Atom Arms Stay Temporarily in Japan," The New York Times, April 25, 1971, p. A1. Back

80. Mainichi Shimbun (evening edition), June 17, 1971; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 11. Back

81. Telegram, U.S. Department of State to Taipei Embassy, "Subject: Press Speculation on Transfer of Nuclear Weapons," State 124495, July 11, 1971. Unclassified. Released under FOIA. Back

82. Telegram, U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to Secretary of Defense, "Subj: Okinawa Reversion - Press Reports US Agrees to Remove Nuclear Weapons From Okinawa," 280940Z Oct 71, p. 1. Limited Official Use. Released under the FOIA. Back

83. Telegram, from U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to U.S. Secretary of State, Tokyo 10828, 280940Z Oct 71. Released under FOIA. Back

84. Naval and Maritime Chronology, (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1973), p. 268. Back

85. Mainichi Shimbun, November 7, 1971; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 12. Back

86. Memorandum, "Memorandum of Conversation, Wednesday, February 23, 1972 - 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.," The White House, Washington, D.C., n.d. [1972], p. 18. Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only. Reproduced at the National Security Archives, College Park, Maryland. Back

87. Mainichi Shimbun, March 3, 1972; as cited in Ohara 1991, pp. 16-17. Back

88. Letter, William P. Rogers, U.S. Secretary of State, to Takeo Fukunda, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan, May 15, 1972. Released under FOIA. Back

89. Commander, Seventh Fleet, "Command History 1972," Volume I, September 26, 1972, p. 10. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. As cited in Peter Hayes, Pacific Powderkeg (Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1991), p. 46. Back

90. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1974," Volume I, September 25, 1975, pp. 264-265. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

This information contradicts the assurances given by the Japanese government as recent as in January 1999, where it denied allegations that a secret agreement called for maintaining nuclear facilities in Okinawa even after the reversion of the island to Japanese control in 1972. Whether a secret agreement existed or not, nuclear facilities were clearly maintained at Okinawa well after the reversion of the island in 1972. "Nonaka Denies Asahi Report on 'Secret' Agreement With US," Kyodo (Tokyo), January 11, 1999. Back

91. Ibid., p. 265. Back

92. Ibid., p. 100.

The U.S. also stored chemical and biological weapons on Okinawa. This was first revealed on July 18, 1969, by the Wall Street Journal. The revelation caused a stir in Japan and endangered the delicate negotiations. So a few months later, in October 1969, the U.S. Secretary of Defense announced that the United States had decided to remove all chemical ammunition from Okinawa. It wasn't until December 1970, however, that a public announcement was made that Johnston Island had been selected as the new storage site. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1971," Volume I, May 31, 1972, p. 297. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

The first shipment of chemical ammunitions from Okinawa arrived on Johnston Island on January 22, 1971. Construction of additional storage igloos was necessary before all the thousands of tons of munitions could be relocated. The new facilities were completed in June 1971, and the last of the chemical weapons (code-named Red Hat) were offloaded at Johnston Island on September 21, 1971. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1971," May 31, 1972, p. 297. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

93. United States Senate, Committee of Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad, "Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad," 91st Congress, 2d Session, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 12. Back

94. As a result of National Security Decision Memorandum 248 (NSDM-248) from the Spring of 1974, all nuclear weapons were to be withdrawn from Taiwan during the last half of calendar year 1974. Authority to station Quick Reaction Alert aircraft on alert status on Taiwan was discontinued and upon removal of the nuclear weapons Tainan Air Base was to be placed on a caretaker basis. As required, the F-4 Command Domino squadron and nuclear weapons were withdrawn by July 1974. The last F-4 squadron was scheduled to be withdrawn by May 30, 1975. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1974," September 25, 1975, pp. 142, 143. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

95. United States Senate, Committee of Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad, "Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad," 91st Congress, 2d Session, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 12. Back

96. Ibid., p. 13. Back

97. Command in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1974," Volume I, September 25, 1975, p. 262. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

98. Ibid. Back

99. Ibid., p. 263. Back

100. Ibid., p. 100. Back

101. Command in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1976," Volume I, October 18, 1977, p. 197. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

102. Ibid., pp. 159-160, 197. Back

103. Ibid., pp. 160, 197.

So secret was this operations, that the USS Flint's 1976 Command History contains no records for the month of November, but only identifies that the ship arrived in Subic Bay on October 27, and departed on December 1 enroute the continental United States. On the sail across the Pacific, the USS Flint was escorted by two other U.S. Navy ships; the USS Vega and USS Gridley. U.S. Department of the Navy, "1976 Chronological History of USS Flint (AE-32)," n.d. [1977], Enclosure 1, p. 5.

Long after the nuclear weapons were removed, during the national emergency in response to the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo volcano in 1991, the U.S. refused to confirm or deny whether nuclear weapons were present at Clark Air Force Base. Said Pentagon spokesperson Pete Williams: "We neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at any location." "Pentagon Refuses Comment on Reports of Nuclear Arms at Clark Air Base," Reuters (Washington), June 13, 1991. Back

104. Command in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1977," Volume II, September 1, 1978, p. 431. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

105. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1972," Volume I, August 31, 1973, p. 66. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Emphasis added. Back

106. Ibid., Volume II, p. 625. Emphasis added. Back

107. Asahi Shimbun, evening edition), March 3, 1972; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 17. Back

108. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1972," Volume I, August 31, 1973, p. 66. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

109. While the conventionally-powered carrier USS Midway was permitted to use Yokosuka, the first nuclear-powered carrier visit to the harbor did not take place for another decade until December 1984, when the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) arrived for a two-day visit. U.S. Navy, "Command History of the Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet 1 January 1984 - 31 December 1984," Volume I, n.d. [1985], p. 37. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

110. Asahi Shimbun, September 28, 1973; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 19. Back

111. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History for 1972," Volume I, August 31, 1973, p. 66. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

112. Asahi Shimbun, October 5, 1973; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 20. Back

113. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1973," Volume I, August 30, 1974, p. 88. Unclassified. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

114. United States Congress, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "Hearing on Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy," 93d Congress, 2nd Session, March 7, 1974, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1974. Back

115. U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Military Applications, Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974), 93rd Congress, 2d Session, September 10, 1974, p. 18. Emphasis in original. Back

116. Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), October 7, 1974; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 23. Back

117. Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), October 8, 1974; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 24. Back

118. Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), October 8, 1974; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 24. Back

119. U.S. Department of State, "Intersoll-Yasukawa Statement," October 8, 1974. Released under FOIA. Back

120. Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), October 9, 1974; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 24. Back

121. Asahi Shimbun, October 10, 1974; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 24. Back

122. Command in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1974," Volume I, September 24, 1975, p. 627. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

123. U.S. Navy, "USS Midway Command History for 1974," Part I, Section B: Summary of Operations, [1975], p. 6. Back

124. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1975," Volume II, October 7, 1976, p. 718. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

125. Ibid., p. 761. Back

126. Ibid. Back

127. Ibid. Back

128. U.S. Department of the Navy, "USS Kiska (AE-35), Fleet Post Office, San Francisco 96601: Plan of the Day for Saturday 16 October 1976," For Official use Only, n.d. [probably October 1976], p. 3, item 14. Back

129. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "CINCPAC Command History 1977," Volume III, September 1, 1978, p. 586. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back

130. U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Detachment USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), "Command Chronology for Period 1 Jan 1979 through Jun 1979," July 2, 1979, Enclosure 1, p. 2. Back

131. U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1979-1980 Western Pacific-Indian Ocean Deployment Report," August 5, 1980, p. 27. Confidential (declassified). Back

132. U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Detachment USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), "Command Chronology for Period 1 July 1979 through 31 December 1979," December 31, 1979, Enclosure 1, p. 2. Back

133. U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1979-1980 Western Pacific-Indian Ocean Deployment Report," August 5, 1980, pp. 27-28. Confidential (declassified). Back

134. Ibid., p. 28. Back

135. Ibid. Back

136. U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1979 Command History," July 16, 1980, Enclosure 1, p. 6. Unclassified; U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1979-1980 Western Pacific-Indian Ocean Deployment Report," August 5, 1980, p. 7. Confidential (declassified). Back

137. U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1979 Command History," July 16, 1980, Enclosure 1, p. 7. Unclassified. Back

138. U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1979-1980 Western Pacific-Indian Ocean Deployment Report," August 5, 1980, p. 28. Confidential (declassified). Back

139. Ibid., p. 51. Back

140. U.S. Navy, "USS Midway Command History for Calendar Year 1978," March 15, 1979, Part I, Section B: Summary of Operations, p. I-B-19. Back

141. Ibid., p. I-B-20. Back

142. U.S. Navy, "USS Midway Command History for Calendar Year 1978," March 15, 1979, Part II, Section A: Visits and Ceremonies Aboard USS Midway, pp. II-A-6 and II-A-8. Back

143. Hiro Umebayashi, "The History of the Aircraft Carrier USS Midway: 1984-1986; As Revealed by Its Deck Logs," Tomakuimushi-Sha, Tokyo, December 1991, p. 4. Back

144. U.S. Navy, "Midway CV-41: The Magic Touch," Cruise Book for 1985-1987, n.d. [1987], W. Division, n.p. Back

145. Alternatively, temporary offload could also occur at another U.S. naval base in, for example, the Philippines only a few days sailing from Yokosuka. Back

146. Asahi Shimbun, June 25, 1981; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 49. Back

147. U.S. Navy, "USS Flint (AE-32) 1984 Command History," Enclosure 1, p. 3; Hiro Umebayashi, "The History of the Aircraft Carrier USS Midway: 1984-1986; As Revealed by Its Deck Logs," Tomakuimushi-Sha, Tokyo, December 1991, p. 5. Back

148. U.S. Navy, "Loading and Underway Replenishment of Nuclear Weapons," Naval Warfare Publication 14-1 (Rev. D), July 1986, p. 4-3. Back

149. U.S. Navy, "Ship Manpower Document USS Midway," OPNAVINST 5320.62C, October 16, 1986. Back

150. U.S. Navy, "Ranger 1978 Command History," Enclosure 1, March 1, 1979, p. 25. Back

151. U.S. Navy, "USS Ranger (CV-61) Command History for 1979," Enclosure 2, August 26, 1980, pp. i, iii. Back

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