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Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009

HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO

Of course U.S. nukes were stationed in Japan's ports


By MAURICE O'BRIEN
Omiya, Saitama Pref.

Dear Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama,

I'm writing to suggest that you and other officials don't bother with your "investigation" into whether or not the United States has ever stationed nuclear weapons in Japan. All you need to do is spend about 10 minutes on the Internet and you'll find the answer written in plain English.

In the 1990s, U.S. government documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act stated unequivocally that nuclear-armed naval vessels often visited Japan's ports. In 1956, no fewer than 13 separate U.S. military facilities in Japan had nuclear weapons or components stored, or were earmarked to receive nuclear weapons in times of crisis or war.

It was reported in 1997 that when the aircraft carrier USS Midway was stationed in Yokosuka in 1972, the U.S. State Department proposed that its nuclear weapons be offloaded prior to entering Japan. The chief of U.S. naval operations rejected the request, and the Midway was subsequently allowed to be stationed in Yokosuka for the next 20 years — with nuclear weapons aboard.

U.S. Navy documents also revealed that in 1965 the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga carried nuclear weapons into Japan, as did the USS Kitty Hawk in 1979.

A Cold War-era Pentagon document concluded that the Japanese government "tacitly had accepted" the existence of nuclear weapons in Japan's ports, and a U.S. National Security Council document written in 1969 concluded that "Japan now acquiesces" in port visits by nuclear- armed warships.

A 1999 report by the Nautilus Institute, an American research think tank, stated that "the United States routinely brought nuclear weapons into Japan during the Cold War, despite Japan's nonnuclear policy." Japanese government officials knowingly accepted these deployments, and urged the U.S. to conceal the armaments of its nuclear ships.

Most of this information was revealed in the American media 10 years ago. In 1999, the New York Times twice reported the visits of nuclear-armed U.S. warships to Japan. Time ran an article revealing the visits back in 1981, based on a Mainichi Shimbun interview with a former U.S. ambassador to Japan, Edwin Reischauer, who discussed the U.S. nuclear ship visits in his book "Japan: The Story of a Nation," also published in 1981. According to Time, nuclear weapons routinely visited Japanese ports, but the U.S. did not view the entry of nuclear-armed vessels into Japan's waters as violating any agreement. As for the Japanese government, it had "quietly accepted the fact," said the magazine.

And yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of nuclear weapons in Japan, and despite the wide reporting of it, we now hear that the government is investigating "stopovers" by ships and planes carrying nuclear weapons. But the visits were not mere stopovers.

How can anyone possibly believe that all those U.S. planes and ships based in Japan were not nuclear-armed? And how can so many Japanese be unaware of this issue when it has been widely reported in the American media?

The current probe should be called off and replaced with another investigation — into how so many people blinded themselves to what was happening in their own country.

Submissions to Hotline to Nagatacho should address issues that affect your life in Japan or be in response to government policies. Please imagine you are actually writing to a government official — be it a local school board head or the prime minister himself — to bring attention to an important matter. Send submissions for Hotline to Nagatacho of between 500 and 600 words to community@japantimes.co.jp


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