Apparently there were several, and the ruling DPJ party is bent on exposing all of them. The Times of India says:
Soon after coming to power, the government set up a panel of historians to probe the long-whispered existence of pacts between the two countries. Their findings are expected to be released some time this week.
The four mentioned are:
- 1960: An agreement for the U.S. to use Japanese soil “as needed” in case of a second Korean War.
- 1969: An agreement to ship nuclear weapons back to Okinawa in case of an emergency.
- Cold War, Date Unknown: U.S. warships granted the ability to sail through Japanese waters carrying nuclear weapons and make port stops.
- Cold War, Date Unknown: Japan’s “quietly paying for restoration of U.S. Military areas even after the island’s return”.
Some quick commentary on each.
1960: An agreement for the U.S. to use Japanese soil “as needed” in case of a second Korean War. This isn’t really all that surprising. The U.S. did that anyway during the first Korean War.
1969: An agreement to ship nuclear weapons back to Okinawa in case of an emergency. I find this particularly interesting, because I get a real sense that something was going on in this part of the world in ’69-’70 that had to do with nuclear weapons, and maybe it had something to do with Southeast Asia. I think the Korean Peninsula can be ruled out–see #1.
It also strikes me as curious that Nixon even asked the Japanese. Nixon liked Japan. Nixon saw the big picture, and thought of Japan as America’s anchor of power in the Western Pacific.
Date Unknown: U.S. warships granted the ability to sail through Japanese waters carrying nuclear weapons and make port stops. As far as I can recall, when we had nuclear weapons on U.S. Navy ships, we went wherever we wanted with them anyway, preferring to neither confirm nor deny that they were onboard, and then letting the host government pretend we didn’t.
Hmm. Except maybe in the case of Japan. This is interesting:
The nuclear-capable aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) homeported at Yokosuka between 1973 and the early 1990s had special nuclear weapons procedures due to the sensitivity of nuclear weapons in Japan. This prevented establishment of formal nuclear weapons scools in or training with nuclear weapons while inport Yokosuka. Moreover, the ship’s nuclear weapons devision was the only such division in the Navy that routinely offloaded nuclear weapons at sea.
Well, an aircraft carrier is a high profile ship. It’s possible the secret agreement pertained to attack submarines armed with nuclear torpedoes, possibly transiting the Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido…oh wait, this is even more interesting. From Wikipedia:
Japan’s territorial waters extend to three nautical miles (5.6 km) into the [Tsugaru Strait] instead of the usual twelve, reportedly to allow nuclear-armed United States Navy warships and submarines to transit the strait without violating Japan’s prohibition against nuclear weapons in its territory.
Alright…so if the U.S. and Japan took such pains to keep nuclear weapons out of Japanese territorial waters, what U.S. warships and what Japanese waters did this secret agreement pertain to? Could we be talking nuclear-armed escorts? Nuclear munitions carried by embarked Marines? Boomers? Curious.
Date Unknown: Japan’s “quietly paying for restoration of U.S. Military areas even after the island’s return”. This is sort of hard to follow, and it sounds boring, so I won’t.
A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch