Introduction and Summary
The Early Years
The Battle over Okinawa
The “Secret” Agreement
Nuclear War Planning in Japan
About the Author
Introduction And Summary
During the Cold War, rumors concerning U.S. deployments of nuclear weapons to Japan were both numerous and widely reported. Such rumors were consistently met with adamant denials by Japanese governments1 and a refusal by U.S. governments to discuss any aspects of nuclear weapons deployments overseas. Despite the end of the Cold War and the U.S. withdrawal of its last forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons seven years ago, information about U.S. nuclear operations in Japan has remained shrouded in military secrecy.
The Nautilus Institute’s East Asia Nuclear Policy Project, a far-ranging project aimed at promoting open debate over the role of nuclear weapons in the Asia-Pacific region, has for the past year sponsored detailed research into the history of U.S. nuclear weapons practices in Japan. U.S. government documents recently declassified under the Freedom of Information Act and obtained through this research add substantial weight to previous assertions that the United States routinely brought nuclear weapons into Japan during the Cold War despite Japan’s non-nuclear policy. These documents also shed light on suspicions that Japanese government officials knowingly accepted these deployments. Perhaps most surprisingly, the declassified documents also reveal the previously unreported extent to which the United States also conducted nuclear war planning in Japan.
Nautilus Institute Research Associate Hans Kristensen has compiled these findings into a comprehensive, chronologically organized report that combines an array of previously unknown facts with news reports to portray clearly the extent to which the United States and Japan both allowed Japan to become involved in U.S. nuclear weapons practices. The following are the main findings and conclusions from the report.
Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in Japan
Allegations that the United States brought nuclear weapons into Japan despite the Japanese ban against nuclear weapons in its territory were frequent during the Cold War. Such allegations were always denied by Japanese governments. The newly declassified documents obtained for this report, however, provide important new reinforcement to these allegations. Indeed, references in these documents to U.S. nuclear weapon operations on Japanese soil and through Japanese harbors and territorial waters are commonplace. The strength of this evidence leaves little basis to continued insistence that the United States ever respected Japan’s three non-nuclear principles.
In particular, the newly declassified documents disclose the following:
1. In 1972, during preparations to establish Yokosuka as the home port of the USS Midway (CV-41) the following year, the U.S. State Department recommended removing nuclear weapons from the aircraft carrier to avoid a conflict with Japan’s non-nuclear policy. The Chief of Naval Operations, however, vetoed this move as “operationally unacceptable.” Yokosuka subsequently served as the home port for the Midway for two decades.
2. During the 1970s and 1980s, special nuclear weapons training and nuclear weapons handling procedures existed for the USS Midway (CV-41). These special procedures, unique to this vessel, enabled nuclear weapons to be removed from the vessel outside Japanese territory. This capability apparently implemented an unwritten agreement under which Japan would permit the United States to bring nuclear weapons into Japanese ports as long as the United States did not remove offload them to shore.
3. Shortly after a visit to Yokosuka in October 1979, the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) was dispatched to the East China Sea to defend against a possible North Korean aggression against South Korea during the chaotic period following the assassination of President Park Chung-hee. During this deployment, the ship conducted both nuclear anti-submarine and nuclear strike exercises. Such exercises during such a crisis situation would be highly unlikely unless the ship was carrying nuclear weapons, strongly suggesting that the ship was nuclear armed during its preceding visit to Japan.
4. Contingency plans existed in 1967 for deployment of the Genie air-to-air missile to Japan. Although the Genie missile is dual-capable, the documents clearly identify the missiles that would be deployed under these contingencies as nuclear missiles. This represents the first association of nuclear-armed Genie missiles with Japanese deployment. The details of the contingencies under which the missiles would be deployed remain classified.
5. The Japan Air Self Defense Force conducted joint air defense exercises with U.S. forces in 1962 that included practicing procedures for transmitting nuclear weapons launch authorizations as part of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). Whether the Japanese forces participated directly in practicing these procedures is unknown.
6. With the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty in 1972, Japan stated that all nuclear weapons related functions on the island must cease. Despite this position, U.S. forces on Okinawa were maintained on nuclear alert as part of the SIOP for several years after the reversion of the island, and some forces even increased their nuclear alert role in the 1970s.
7. Although nuclear weapons were removed from Okinawa in the early 1970s, this was not simply in response to the conditions for reverting the island to Japanese sovereignty, but was undertaken as part of a much larger U.S. withdrawal of forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons from East Asia in response to increasing concerns over the vulnerability of these weapons to terrorist attacks. (The newly declassified documents confirm for the first time that U.S. land-based nuclear weapons were removed from Taiwan and the Philippines in 1974 and 1976, respectively, although naval nuclear weapons subsequently continued to enter both countries aboard warships. Previous Nautilus Institute research has provided the first official account of how nuclear weapons were removed from South Korea in 1991.)
8. At about the time of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, both the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC) and the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) concluded that the Japanese government “tacitly” permitted nuclear weapons to enter Japanese harbors onboard warships. (Note the relevance of this finding to those outlined in the following section)
Each of the new revelations above is described and supported in detail in the report.
In addition to the question of whether the United States deployed nuclear weapons and conducted nuclear operations in Japan throughout the Cold War, there have also been frequent allegations among analysts and in news media that U.S. and Japanese governments made one or more “secret agreements” allowing nuclear weapons to enter Japan despite the country’s official nuclear ban. The most widely reported of these allegations is that the United States and Japan, in connection with negotiation of the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, reached a secret unwritten understanding to permit U.S. warships to carry nuclear weapons in Japanese territorial waters.
The newly declassified documents obtained for this report provide ample evidence that Japanese governments willingly overlooked indications that its non-nuclear principles were violated. The declassified material also confirms that the U.S. government and military authorities had concluded that Japanese governments tacitly allowed nuclear weapons to be onboard U.S. warships in Japanese ports. In some instances, Japanese officials were present onboard U.S. aircraft carriers to witness conspicuous displays of practice exercises for use of nuclear weapons. The newly declassified documentation even reveals instances in which Japanese government officials urged the United States to conceal the armament of the nuclear ships.
Nowhere is the Japanese willful disregard of U.S. nuclear weapons practices in Japan more evident than in the case of the Ticonderoga scandal in 1989, which erupted after independent researchers obtained copies of official U.S. Navy documents revealing that in 1965 the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) carried nuclear weapons into Japan. The report shows how the Japanese government simply decided to ignore the weight of the evidence and ride out the storm of public criticism.
The report’s analysis of the newly declassified documents shows how Japan’s quiet acquiescence to US nuclear weapons practices in Japan was an indirect result of the culture of secrecy created by the U.S. policy to “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) any deployment of nuclear weapons. The inauguration of the NCND policy coincided with Japan’s early (but unsuccessful) efforts in the late-1950s to elicit U.S. assurances that it would not introduce nuclear weapons into Japan. Although the United States said many times that it respected its security treaty and associated arrangements Japan, the United States never stated explicitly that it respected Japan’s non-nuclear policy. Japan’s acceptance of application of the NCND policy to Japanese ports enabled the United States to avoid falsely denying its nuclear operations in Japan. Thus, Japanese governments consistently exercised a contradictory, if not hypocritical, attitude toward U.S. nuclear weapons practices. In public, Japanese governments stood by the nuclear ban devoutly, and reiterated it each time the government was confronted with evidence of a violation. In private, however, governments maintained a more pro-nuclear disposition epitomized by tacit acceptance of the nuclear ambiguity demanded by the NCND policy.
The coexistence of these two contradictory positions imposed a burden on Japanese policymakers and created a tension in U.S.-Japan security relations whose diplomatic consequences resonate even to this day. Although the arrangement accommodated conflicting political and security imperatives of the day, its perpetuation has damaged the credibility of the U.S.-Japan military alliance among the Japanese public. The U.S. government, like the public in general, was aware of the dilemma imposed on Japanese governments each time a ship visit occurred. However, the United States continued to insist on complete secrecy concerning its nuclear weapons practices, leaving Japanese authorities to deal with the political fallout. Forced to choose between ignoring its own nuclear ban or confronting its most important ally, for nearly five decades Japanese governments have sacrificed their own non-nuclear policy.
U.S. Nuclear War Planning In Japan
In addition to further verifying both the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Japan and official Japanese acquiescence to this presence, the newly declassified documents obtained for this report reveal for the first time that the United States also conducted nuclear war planning in Japan.
Specifically, seven years after Japan and the United States signed the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, the Commander of the Pacific Command established the Pacific Operations Liaison Office (POLO) in Fifth Air Force facilities at Fuchu Air Station just outside Tokyo. POLO functioned as the liaison office for U.S. nuclear operations in the Western Pacific area from the mid-1960s until July 1972. During this period, POLO was responsible for the production of the Reconnaissance Plan portion of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) for the Pacific Command (PACOM), as well as various other nuclear planning documents.
By 1972, modernization of the SIOP planning process allowed Pacific Command to move the POLO function to Hawaii as part of an overall consolidation of SIOP planning. However, SIOP functions continued to take place on Japanese territory. For example, the Yokota and Kadena Air Bases in 1965 were designated as dispersal bases for U.S. Strategic Air Command’s new airborne command post aircraft, codenamed BLUE EAGLE. Together with the U.S. Navy’s own specially equipped C-130 aircraft, these command and control aircraft operations out of Japan functioned to provide the National Command Authority (the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high-ranking military officials) with the technical means of authorizing and controlling SIOP and Theater nuclear war plans in the region. During the 1970s, BLUE EAGLE aircraft flying out of Japan practiced transferring nuclear launch orders to strategic nuclear submarines and nuclear-armed aircraft carriers operating in the waters around Japan. Such nuclear command and control exercises continued well into the 1990s, and probably continue even today.
Unlike a visit of a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier, nuclear war planning and nuclear command and control exercises in Japan are much less visible to the public. Because of its relative ease of concealment, this aspect of Japanese involvement in U.S. nuclear weapons practices has received scant public scrutiny. The new evidence described in this report of the use of Japanese facilities for nuclear war planning therefore reveals the depths to which a non-nuclear country can find itself involved in nuclear arms rivalries — whether it is aware of it or not — by accepting the security guarantees of a nuclear-armed ally.
Post Cold War Relevance
The evidence from the newly declassified documents used to generate this report points clearly to the conclusion that Japanese governments lied to the public when they insisted they had no reason to suspect that the United States was violating Japan’s non-nuclear policy. The material upon which this report is based clearly shows that Japanese governments had sufficient information about U.S. nuclear weapons practices to allow them to act. Throughout the Cold War, Japanese governments chose not to act on this knowledge.
The legacy of Cold War era U.S.-Japanese nuclear relations provides important lessons about the long-term consequences of sustained concealment of the underlying realities of security alliances. Regardless of the military rationale used at the time to justify the deployment of nuclear weapons in Japan, the secrecy and denials that accompanied the deployments created a political legacy that endures to this day. In the context of the current strengthening of the U.S.-Japan military alliance (as exemplified by the recent adoption of the new U.S.-Japan guidelines for security cooperation), careful examination of this legacy becomes all the more vital. A complete and accurate accounting of history is necessary to salve the irritation of this legacy of secrecy, which could contribute to a future public backlash against the U.S. military presence in Japan. It is also a prerequisite to removing the opacity that continues to shroud the true nature of the present and planned security relationship between these two countries.
Now that U.S. nuclear weapons have been withdrawn from the Pacific, the opportunity exists for both Japan and the United States to revisit the premises of their security relationship, and especially to critically examine whether a Cold War-level reliance upon nuclear deterrence remains an effective means of achieving their mutual security goals. This imperative applies particularly to Japan, which publicly espouses nuclear disarmament, but also continues to accept the prospect of future U.S. transit of nuclear weapons through Japan and allows the United States to conduct routine nuclear command and control operations from its territory.
A vital step toward such an examination of the future role of nuclear deterrence in the U.S.-Japan relationship would be for the Japanese government to provide greater access to its own information on the past. Ironically, most of the new information presented in this report comes not from Japan but from the United States — the country that brought nuclear weapons into Japan. Information from the Japanese government’s archives, on the other hand, is virtually unavailable and represents an important “missing link” in fully understanding the nuclear relationship that evolved between the two countries during the Cold War. With the Cold War now over, many justifications for maintaining this secrecy have evaporated. Japan now has the opportunity to allow drastically increased public access to this historical material. By doing so, it would help close the gaps in the history books, dispel rumors and myths, and facilitate a more open public debate on both sides of the Pacific about what the proper nature of the U.S.-Japanese military alliance should be.
1 See, for example, “Nonaka Denies Asahi Report on ‘Secret’ Agreement With US,”Kyodo (Tokyo), January 11, 1999.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Visit||Number 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.
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-à-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’.
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.
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
2. Peter Hayes, Pacific Powderkeg (Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1991), p. 36.
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.
4. Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), June 27, 1955; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 1.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9. Telegram, U.S. Tokyo Embassy to Secretary of State, No. 266, July 30, 1955, 2:20 PM. Control Number 15228.
10. Martin E. Weinstein, Japan’s Post War Defense Policy, 1947-1968 (New York: Columbia University press, 1971), p. 82.
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.
12. America’s Nuclear Strategy and Japan, [author, publisher, and year unknown] p. 359; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 2.
13. Martin E. Weinstein, Japan’s Post War Defense Policy, 1947-1968 (New York: Columbia University press, 1971), p. 95.
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.
15. Peter Hayes, et al., American Lake (Australia: Penguin Books, 1986), pp. 85-89.
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. , p. 90. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.
17. Richard A. Ericson, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, letter to Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Olafur Johannesson, August 11, 1980.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
25. The SIOP was an attempt to bring together an ever-increasing number of nuclear strike plans under a single overall coordinated plan.
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.
27. Ibid., pp. 46, 47.
28. Ibid., pp. 161-165.
29. “Port Calls by U.S. Warships Approved in ’63,” Kyodo News Service (Tokyo), May 16, 1999.
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.
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.
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.
33. Mainichi Shimbun (evening edition), January 3, 1972. As cited in Ohara 1991, p. 16.
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.
35. “U.S. Denies Reported Accord On Nuclear Arms With Japan,” The New York Times, April 12, 1987, p. A12.
36. Telegram, U.S. State Department to Embassy Tokyo, [no subject], February 24, 1966, p. 2. Secret. Reproduced at the Lyndon BN. Johnson Library.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
43. Memorandum, “Japan: Okinawa Reversion,” n.d. , 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.
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.
45. Ohara 1991, p. 5.
47. Memorandum, “Japan: Okinawa Reversion,” n.d. , 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.59This 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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].
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.
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
- : 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
- tacit approval.
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.
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 astemporary (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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….
- 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 .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.
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.
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.
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
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. , 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. , 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. , 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. , 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, , 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. , 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
The “Secret” Agreement
During the 1980s, the integrity of Japan’s non-nuclear policy deteriorated significantly as a result of increasingly detailed information becoming available to the public about the nuclear routines of the U.S. Navy. This information, along with statements by former officials, made it increasingly difficult for the U.S. and Japanese governments to maintain the ambiguity over nuclear weapons in Japan. It was inevitable that sooner or later plain English would be needed to describe exactly what the arrangements and “understandings” were between the two governments. This, in turn, could have severe consequences for the U.S.-Japanese relations.
This almost happened in May 1981, when former U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo Edwin O. Reischauer disclosed in a newspaper interview that since 1960 an “understanding” had permitted U.S. nuclear-armed warships access to Japanese ports and territorial waters. Reischauer said that the Japanese government had verbally agreed to this understanding during the 1960 revision of the security treaty. Several current and former U.S. and Japanese officials confirmed Ambassador Reischauer’s interpretation, including the former Japanese ambassador in Washington, Takezo Shimoda, who said the question of temporary docking or transit through Japanese waters “was outside the matter for prior consultation.”152
Reischauer’s disclosure naturally caused a major scandal and when reminded by the Japanese media that his statement was “shocking,” Reischauer replied there was nothing shocking about it but that “the problem is in the Japanese government which may have forgotten the oral understanding.”153 Not only did Reischauer say that he understood at the time that there was an oral agreement on this point, but “the Japanese understood that, too,” he said. Reischauer referred to conversions he had with then Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira, who later became Japanese Prime Minister, to underscore that understanding and added:154
- Right from the start I had been informed that the meaning of ‘introduction’ meant putting nuclear weapons ashore or storing them. It had always been our understanding that this did not prevent us from moving the vessels through Japan.
The Japanese government flatly rejected Reischauer’s claim of an “understanding” and said it was “inconceivable” that it had a different interpretation of the treaty conditions than the United States.156 Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki stated that “there was no such (verbal) agreement as reported by the press”157 Foreign Minister Sunao Sonoda, in turn, blew up in Parliament when asked about his comments on Reischauer’s disclosure: “I have never met Dr. Reischauer,” he said, “but he is an uncalled-for meddler who poses his nose into matters that are absolutely none of his business.”158
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Suzuki ordered his Foreign Ministry to investigate the facts. When the press subsequently asked about the transit agreement, however, Foreign Ministry spokesman Shohei Naito said: “We were told that no documents of this kind were found….Those relevant records don’t exist in our archives.” Asked whether this meant that the agreement did not exist, Naito responded: “We have not found documents of this kind.”159
Whether the Japanese government told the truth or not, it is clear that Prime Minister Suzuki did not have much room to maneuver. He had returned from a summit meeting in Washington only a few weeks earlier to a heated debate over whether he had committed Japan to a new level of defense cooperation with the United States – a debate that led to the resignation of Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ito. Given the continued U.S. assurances that it abided by the terms of the security treaty and its associated arrangements it was impossible for the Japanese government to publicly acknowledge Ambassador Reischauer’s disclosure. Indeed, anything short of a complete denial would have forced Suzuki to declare U.S. violation of the security treaty. Faced with that situation, Suzuki told reporters, “it is very difficult (for Japan) to realistically probe” Reischauer’s assertion,160 but nonetheless insisted that it would have no influence on Japan’s policy.161
The Tank Landing Ship.
As if Reischauer’s disclosure was not enough trouble, the Japanese government soon faced another nuclear scandal. Only a couple of days after the Reischauer story first broke, another former U.S. official, Daniel H. Ellsberg, disclosed that the U.S. had permanently anchored a Tank Landing Ship (LST) with nuclear armed weapons only a couple of hundred yards from the shore off the Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station near Hiroshima from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. Ellsberg told the Washington Post that he wrote a “memo for the record” in 1971 in which he described how the U.S. Navy had tried to circumvent policy without the Pentagon’s knowledge, to conceal a violation of the U.S.-Japanese security treaty, and to give the Marine Corps aircraft a nuclear-bombing head start over the Air Force.162
Three other former U.S. officials confirmed Ellsberg’s disclosure. Paul H. Nitze, who was assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said he “certainly remember the episode. There was quite a flap about it,” but added that he could not remember all the details. Former undersecretary of state for political affairs U. Alexis Johnson said he had a report on the LST from the U.S. Embassy in Japan and took it up with Nitze in 1961. At the time, the ship was in Okinawa for repairs and both Nitze and Johnson recalled that Robert McNamara ordered the ship to stay in Okinawa.163 Former Ambassador Reischauer also confirmed the disclosure and said he immediately protested directly to then Secretary of State Dean Rusk,164 and that the U.S. Navy told him they would withdraw the ship.165 The ship was the USS San Joaquin County (LST-1122), a vessel of 328 feet and 1,600 tons with a crew of approximately 110 plus officers.
Ellsberg’s account of the circumstances, however, suggests that McNamara withdrew the order to withdraw to avoid a quarrel with the Navy and that the ship returned to Iwakuni and stayed there for several years more.166 This was supported by two former crew members, including Michael O’Harro, who was the communications officer aboard until November 1963. Another officer said he was onboard the ship until May of 1964, and that the ship’s mission had not changed in the previous five years. According to this officer, the ship did not depart Iwakuni until 1966 or 1967 and the crew knew that the ship carried nuclear weapons in violation of the security treaty:167
- But you’re in the gung-ho mode….You were there for motherland and apple pie. You didn’t think in terms of what possible repercussions it might have. It just escapes you – you’re just doing your job.
Today, more than 30 years after USS San Joaquin County (LST-1122)’s deployment to Japan, the ship has a public website which is maintained by former crew members. This website confirms the account offered by Ellsberg and the two crew members, that the ship did not remain at Okinawa as ordered by McNamara but returned to Iwakuni. It also reveals that the U.S. Navy formally changed the ship’s homeport to Iwakuni, that the mission was in support of the Fleet Air Wing 6 and the 1st Marine Air Wing, that it didn’t depart Iwakuni until July 1966, and that it returned to Japan (Sasebo) again in January 1967 for an ammunition loadout:
- In 1959 […] her home port was changed to Iwakuni, Japan. She arrived on 26 September and took up station ship duties, including logistic support for the Fleet Air Wing 6 and the 1st Marine Air Wing, which continued until July 1966. She then sailed to Guam for overhaul; participating in search and rescue operations in the Marianas; and in late November, got underway for her new home port, Naha, Okinawa. Arriving on 1 December, she remained through the month; and on 9 January 1967, sailed for Sasebo where she loaded ammunition and proceeded to the Philippines and the embattled coast of South Vietnam.
The Japanese government responded to the LST story by saying that it would not press the United States for an explanation. Chief Cabinet secretary Kiichi Miyazawa told reporters that the story concerned matters that took place many years ago and do not merit investigation.170 Despite the attempt to dodge the issue, the combined effect of the LST-story and the Reischauer scandal brought the Japanese government in a very serious situation. Washington Post’s Tokyo correspondent said that an admission that nuclear weapons had been brought into Japanese ports probably would topple the Suzuki government.171 So the Japanese government dismissed both reports altogether.
The Future of the Alliance
The failure of the Japanese authorities to offer anything but denials and “no documents” responses — combined with the increasingly compromising facts — created a deep sense of distrust in Japan toward the U.S. and Japanese governments. “You are lying to the people,” reporters shouted at one of Suzuki’s press conferences,172 and The New York Times described the mood as “the most uncomfortable for American diplomats in Japan in recent memory.” Japan’s security was based on trust in the United States, Japanese editorials warned, but “an ‘alliance’ based on falsehood cannot flourish.”173
The future of the U.S.-Japanese relationship was also the main theme when Ambassador Reischauer later defended his disclosure in a commentary printed in the Washington Post in June 1981. He warned that it was “unhealthy and even dangerous” for the U.S. government and the Japanese public to have significantly different understandings of the meaning of the word “introduction” of nuclear weapons. He said:
- It was natural in 1960 […] to handle the problem of nuclear weapons on American ships by simply avoiding mention of the subject. […] It may have seemed convenient to the Japanese government to bridge the gap by adhering to the old formula in which the American side neither affirmed nor denied the presence of nuclear weapons anywhere and the Japanese simply said that they trusted the United States. But insofar as these two statements covered over a deception, they are unworthy of the sort of relationship that has developed between Japan and the United States, and impair the growth of full trust between them.
The disclosure of the nuclear transits “understanding” was further substantiated by a report in Jiji Press the following month. The agency cited a declassified U.S. Navy document from October 1958 as referring to an arrangement that permitted nuclear-armed ships to make port calls at U.S. Navy bases in Japan without prior consultation with the Japanese government (see above). In its response, the Japanese government’s response completely dismissed the possibility that nuclear weapons were present on visiting warships. Moreover, by ignoring the Reischauer disclosure only a few months earlier, the Japanese government decided to attack the new document on a technicality: Since the document was 15 months older than the January 1960 security agreement, it “obviously […] does not reflect the environment of the current Japan-U.S. security pact.”175
Despite the denials, however, it was increasingly clear that Japan’s three non-nuclear principles were not a factor at all in U.S. Navy’s planning of port visits to Japan. Instead, the visits appeared to take place under the terms and conditions of the Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) policy, which he oral agreement disclosed by Ambassador Reischauer was intended to serve. Since Japan accepted NCND in operation in its ports, it inevitably also accepted the possibility that nuclear weapons would be onboard ships from time to time. Otherwise, each visit would indirectly confirm that nuclear weapons could not possibly be present onboard the ships, a confirmation the NCND policy prohibited — even indirectly. The visit was an operational issue, and Japan’s three non-nuclear principles were, for all practical purposes, irrelevant.
Trusting Yet Reminding
The Japanese government may have gradually realized that there was a problem, because in February 1983 Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe told the Diet that the Japanese government would once again tell the United States that Japan does not permit nuclear weapons on its territory.176 The move was triggered by a U.S. request for the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) to visit Sasebo. With the 1981 Reischauer scandal fresh in mind, Foreign Minister Abe told Kumashi Kakehashi, the mayor of Sasebo, that he would soon meet with U.S. Ambassador Mike Mansfield to make sure the U.S. comply with Japan’s three non-nuclear principles.177
The initiative was curious one since the Japanese government only three years earlier had insisted that the security treaty effectively prevented U.S. ships from carrying nuclear weapons into Japanese ports without first consulting the Japanese government. If it was so certain then, then why ask now? Rather than an attempt to force concessions out of Washington, the initiative was probably more intended to prevent the national debate from erupting again.
After the meeting with Ambassador Mansfield, Foreign Minister Abe told a House of Councilors Committee meeting that Japan had been assured by the United States that the USS Enterprise would not carry nuclear weapons during its visit to Sasebo. Abe explained that the assurance was given when Ambassador Mansfield said the U.S. would abide by the security treaty. “Since [Mansfield] said the United States will comply with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, we don’t have to ask [the U.S. if the USS] Enterprise will bring nuclear weapons to Japan.”178
Contrary to Foreign Mininster Abe’s assertion, however, Japan did not get any assurances from Ambassador Mansfield that the USS Enterprise would not carry nuclear weapons during its visit to Sasebo. On the contrary, Mansfield’s reference to the security treaty ensured that the United States did not commit to anything related to nuclear weapons on the ships. Because the security treaty did not address nuclear weapons, the Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy’s requirement to retain ambiguity about the armament of the ship was maintained.
While timid about its non-nuclear policy vis-a-vis the United States, Japan did not hesitate to enforce its nuclear ban when it came to other nuclear powers. For example, after the British carrier HMS Invincible (R05) had been prevented from using dock-facilities in Australia in December 1983 due to its presumed nuclear armament, the Japanese government announced that the HMS Invincible port clearance would depend on ascertaining whether or not the ship carried nuclear weapons. If Britain declared that it was nuclear armed, or if there were inadequate assurances of no nuclear armament, the clearance would be denied.179 The British government, bound by its own Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy but with no security agreement like the United States to threaten in retaliation if denied access, gracefully canceled the visit. For once the Japanese government had upheld its non-nuclear principle and with no dire consequences for Japanese-British relations.
No sooner had the HMS Invincible story passed, however, before the Japanese media once again carried reports about U.S. nuclear weapons in Japanese ports. The Asahi Shimbun reprinted sections from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships that stated that two U.S. submarines in several cases during the early 1960s had brought nuclear Regulus missiles into Yokosuka. Once again the Japanese government denied the report, and Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone told reporters that it was “inconceivable” that such port call had occurred. “Japan strictly abides by the non-nuclear principles and the prior consultation scheme,” Nakasone said and added: “I believe that the U.S. has also respected them.”180
Although Nakasone did not offer anything concrete in support for his belief, a spokesperson for the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Ryozo Kato, subsequently explained that the U.S. consistently had announced on various occasions that it understands the specific sentiments of the Japanese people on nuclear weapons and sincerely fulfills its duties in accordance with the security treaty. The U.S. State Department, in turn, responded with its assurance that it abided by the obligations under the Security Treaty but would not confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons anywhere.181
The Japanese and U.S. governments almost seemed to adhere to two parallel positions, where Japan linked the advance consultation provision to the three non-nuclear principles, while the U.S. linked it to the Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy. To what extent U.S. and Japanese officials communicated about this division in private still remains unclear, but after Japanese media reported in January 1984 that U.S. congressional records revealed the presence of nuclear weapons in Japan even after the reversion of Okinawa, the U.S. response to the Japanese government did not indicate a great deal of trust. The State Department tried to locate the Congressional documents but was unsuccessful, so it asked the Tokyo Embassy to inform Japanese foreign ministry officials of this and add that the U.S. would neither confirm nor deny the presence nuclear weapons anywhere.182 Moreover, the message to Japan was:
- The details on U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in any one country are closely held on a bilateral basis between the nations involved. As you know, the U.S. has always honored, and will continue to honor, its obligations under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and its related arrangements.
The message was either an attempt to end further speculation among Japanese officials, or a dry reminder to the Japanese government of the limitations that existed in the U.S.-Japan relationship regardless of whether the accusations in the media were correct or not. “Closely held” information about nuclear weapons deployments had previously been pursued by the Sato government in the late-1960s (see above), but denied at the time because it required a much closer and formalized NATO-like alliance than the one Japan enjoyed – or was prepared to have-under the mutual defense agreement.
Admiral William Crowe, the CINCPAC, was greatly concerned that Japan would be inspired by New Zealand’s non-nuclear stand and change its own port visit procedure. Although the firm rejection of nuclear weapons was the same in both countries, at least in public, Japan accepted the uncertainty of the ship’s nuclear armament while New Zealand decided to make up its own mind. In a report to the Secretary of Defense from late 1984, Crowe explained CINCPAC’s objective:
- [The New Zealand government] continues to publicly espouse a policy of denying port access to nuclear armed or powered vessels [deleted]. As you are aware, a number of other countries with nuclear sensitivities, notably Japan, Australia and our NATO allies, are watching closely how we handle this situation. Necessarily…our ultimate objective is unfettered port access while maintaining our NCND policy.”
When the New Zealand anti-nuclear legislation was passed in January 1985, Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone seemed to distance himself from the initiative by saying that it would not have any effect on Japan’s three non-nuclear principles. Still, only two years earlier Japan had exercised a New Zealand-type policy in connection with the visit of the British carrier HMS Invincible (see above).
The Limits of Prior Consultation
One year later, in February 1986, the nuclear debate in Japan evolved further when the Japanese government volunteered its interpretation of the Security Treaty’s meaning of “prior consultation.” The new interpretation demonstrated the provision essentially put the Japanese nuclear ban out of commission. Both the Japanese and U.S. governments had previously stated that prior consultation also concerned the introduction of nuclear weapons,185 and the Japanese government had stressed at the time the security treaty entered into force in 1960 that both Japan and the United States had the right to propose prior consultation.186
The startling reality was that Japan could not ask questions about the presence of nuclear weapons without jeopardizing the entire Security Treaty. Only the United States could initiate “prior consultation.” For Japan to request “prior consultation” would require either a rewriting or cancellation of the treaty, a strong impediment against bringing up the nuclear issue at all.
Only if the United States “does not fulfill its obligations” under the treaty (i.e. seek prior consultation before bringing nuclear weapons in), would the Japanese government have the right to initiate prior consultation. But the possibility that the United States would not fulfill its obligations is “an eventuality that is not anticipated under the security treaty system,” the government explained.187 In effect, Japan was unable to reject a port call of a nuclear-capable warship unless it became an object of prior consultation.
In other words, unless the United States volunteered that it was bringing nuclear weapons in, Japan was prevented from inquiring about this even if everything pointed to the ship carrying nuclear weapons. Japan’s “domino-logic” was simple: since no prior consultation had ever been initiated by the United States, no nuclear weapons had ever been brought in, and since no obligation had been violated, so no questions had to be asked.
Confusion over legal interpretation was only one side of the problem with the U.S.-Japanese nuclear relationship. Clarity was another. Two statements from 1986, for example, clearly illustrate the abyss between the public presentation of the situation and that which can be said once an official is no longer in office. During a visit to New Zealand in January, Stephen Solarz, the chairman of the East Asian Subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee described the Japanese situation:
- The Japanese constitution prohibits the presence of nuclear-armed ships in their waters. We recognize their constitution and at the same time we maintain a schedule of ship access to their ports which we deem to be compatible with their interests while maintaining our principle of neither confirming nor denying.
A convoluted statement, to say the least, that more than suggests a double-situation, where the port visits took place in parallel with-but not necessarily in compliance with – the Japanese constitution. Much clearer was Edwin O. Reischauer, the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, who in his memoirs from 1986 reiterated his claim from 1981 that nuclear weapons on naval vessels were not affected by Japan’s nuclear ban. According to Reischauer:
The United States had agreed not to install, store or introduce nuclear weapons in Japan without prior consultation with the Japanese government. How this applied to American naval vessels that had nuclear weapons as part of their normal armament was never spelled out. I had understood that in the negotiating of the revised security treaty of 1960 there had been an oral agreement that nuclear weapons onboard naval vessels which came and went did not constitute “introduction.”189
Reischauer pointed out that at least the United States proceeded on the assumption that nuclear weapons were permitted onboard warships and consistently refused to admit any secret deal. The Japanese government, on the other hand, was so afraid of the public anti-nuclear sentiments, that it never informed the public properly but instead painted itself into a corner by allowing the Japanese public to assume for decades that U.S. warships entering Japanese waters never carried nuclear weapons.190
Although much clearer in his explanation of the situation, however, Reischauer’s interpretation was only partly correct because the United States, just like the public in general, clearly could see the dilemma the Japanese government was placed in each time a ship visit occurred. The U.S. was free to respond to that dilemma at any time, but instead of helping its ally the United States consistently pressed ahead with nuclear port visits while leaving the Japanese authorities to deal with the political fallout at home. The Japanese alternative: risk the military alliance and jeopardize your own security.
The Japanese government’s balancing between loyalty to the United States and public deception was tested once again in connection with the port visits by the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62). In 1983, the Japanese government reportedly approved a U.S. request to allow the newly re-commissioned and Tomahawk equipped ship to enter Japanese ports, but not until 1986 did the ship actually visit. In January 1986, Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe brushed aside a demand by the opposition to check whether the ship would carry nuclear weapons when visiting Japan. The U.S. had not asked for prior consultations with Japan, Abe argued, therefore it is obvious there are no nuclear weapons aboard the USS New Jersey.191
Nonetheless, a week before the ships arrived for its first visit in August 1986, Foreign Minister Abe’s successor, Tadashi Kuranari, requested a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Mike Mansfield to restate Japan’s nuclear policy and its “nuclear feelings.” Mansfield replied that he understood the Japanese attitude, repeated that the United States would neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons, but said that the United States would “faithfully abide” by the bilateral agreement of prior consultation.192 Like during Foreign Minister Abe’s meeting with Mansfield in March 1983 (see above), Ambassador Mansfield provided no assurances to respect Japan’s nuclear ban.
The timing of the meeting coincided with the United States and Australia expelling New Zealand from the ANZUS alliance in response to he country’s policy on nuclear port visits, but unlike New Zealand the Japanese government submitted to the Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy and the unique U.S. monopoly on “prior consultation.” In public, however, the Japanese government continued to insist that the three nuclear principles did affect the nuclear armament on the ships.
Japan’s loyalty to the “prior consultation” limitations was put to the test again in 1989, when the Japanese government was confronted with information about the accident in 1965 where a nuclear bomb was lost overboard from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) (for details about the accident, see above). The story was front-page news in virtually all newspapers, and television devoted considerable coverage to the new information.
Even before the story was initially released in the United States, U.S. intelligence was aware of the pending scandal and the political military officer at the U.S. Embassy privately informed Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs National Security Affairs Division Deputy Director Sugiyama that they could expect a new scandal.193Initially, the coverage focussed on possible environmental consequences of the radioactive material in the bomb, but the issue soon shifted to the much more contentious issue of nuclear policy. According to a telegram from the U.S. Tokyo Embassy to the State Department:
- While the [government of Japan] has thus far adopted a low-key posture, subsequent revelations that the U.S. carrier entered Yokosuka immediately after the incident […] may compel the Government of Japan to take the issue up with [the U.S.] formally.
But once again, loyalty to the Security Treaty forced the Japanese government “turn a blind eye” to clear evidence that nuclear weapons had been brought into Japan. In response to a press question of whether the carrier might have entered a Japanese port with nuclear weapons onboard, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials reportedly stated that “since there were no consultations called for by the U.S., the [Japanese] view is that there was no introduction of nuclear weapons.”195
Behind the scenes, however, the Japanese government actively encouraged the United States to keep it secret whether the USS Ticonderoga carried nuclear weapons. According to a State Department “Night Note” from May 15, 1989, the Japanese government “stressed the importance of strictly maintaining NCND [the Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy].”196
In the end, the Japanese government could not accept the Ticonderoga evidence because it would force it to declare a U.S. violation of the “prior consultation” requirement. In December 1989, more than six months after the Ticonderoga story broke, the Japanese Foreign Ministry reportedly decided not to press the U.S. for more explanations following U.S. warnings that “any further discussion of this matter will endanger our military policy, and adversely affect our security interests.” In its response, the Japanese foreign ministry said that it was not in a position to independently obtain a copy of the USS Ticonderoga’s deck log (although a copy of the log had been already been presented to it). Instead, it reiterated that because the U.S. did not request advance consultation at the time, Japan had no reason to suspect that nuclear weapons were onboard the ship when it arrived in Yokosuka after the accident.197
The Japanese government had proven its loyalty to its nuclear ally and sacrificed the integrity of its non-nuclear policy by choosing to ignore clear and indisputable evidence that nuclear weapons were brought into Japan. The United States, in turn, continued to maintain the secrecy in public. But the Ticonderoga story and the increasingly clearer documentation that U.S. nuclear-capable ships routinely ignored Japan’s policy on nuclear transit affected the way the U.S. could respond to such stories in the future. In connection with a meeting with Japanese Deputy Minister Kuriyama on nuclear transits, the U.S. State Department acknowledged that the incident had “increased pressure on our pattern of response to such allegations.”198Perhaps there was a limit after all to how far the collusion could be stretched.
152. William Chapman, “Ex-Envoy Says Japan Docked Nuclear Ships; Suzuki Rocked Anew,” Washington Post, May 19, 1981, p. A1; William Chapman, “Japan Insists It Barred U.S. Ships With A-Arms,” Washington Post, May 20, 1991, p. A18.
Ambassador Reischauer also emphasized that the verbal agreement between the United States and Japan did not permit U.S. warships to offload nuclear weapons in Japan. “Reischauer Emphasizes Point,” New York Times, May 20, 1981, p. A12.Back
153 “Former U.S. Envoy Cites Verbal Defense Agreement,” Kyodo (Tokyo), May 18, 1981; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, May 18, 1981, p. C-13. Back
154 Richard Halloran, “Nuclear Agreement On Japan Reported,” New York Times, May 19, 1981, p. A5. Back
155 Ibid. Back
156 “Foreign Ministry’s Denial,” Kyodo (Tokyo), May 18, 1981; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, May 18, 1981, pp. C-13-C14.
Nobusuke Kishi, who was Japanese Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960, stated shortly after the Reischauer scandal broke that he believed that 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
157 Urban C. Lehner, “Japanese Premier Reels From Uproar Touched Off by U.S. Ties, Nuclear Arms,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 1981, p. 30. Back
158 Henry Scott Stokes, “Japan’s Nuclear Furor: Treasured Illusion Is Sullied,” The New York Times, June 6, 1981. Back
159 Henry Scott Stokes, “Tokyo Tries to Divert Nuclear-Arms Uproar,” Washington Post, May 20, 1991, p. A12. Back
160 Urban C. Lehner, “Japanese Premier Reels From Uproar Touched Off by U.S. Ties, Nuclear Arms,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 1981, p. 30. Back
161 “Government Maintains Nuclear Arms Interpretation,” Kyodo (Tokyo), May 19, 1981; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, May 19, 1981, p. C-1.
Even so, one immediate result of Ambassador Reischauer’s statement was that the city of Kitakyushu canceled a scheduled port visit by the three ASROC-equipped U.S. Navy destroyers USS Waddell, USS Hull, USS Decateur. City officials told the Kyodo that in the present situation a visit by the U.S. warships could cause problems. “Kitakyushu Prohibits Port Call By U.S. Ships,” Kyodo (Tokyo), May 19, 1981; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, May 19, 1981, p. C-1. Back
162 Morton Mintz, “U.S. Stationed A-Bomb Ship 200 Yards Off Japan’s Coast,”Washington Post, May 22, 1981, p. A1. Back
163 Ibid. Back
164 “Reischauer Filed Protest Over Nuclear-Armed LST,” The Daily Yomiuri (Kyodo dispatch), June 5, 1981, p. 1. Back
165 Richard Halloran, “Ex-Envoy Says He Protested Atom Bombs off Japan,” New York Times, May 23, 1981, p. A3. Back
166 Morton Mintz, “U.S. Stationed A-Bomb Ship 200 Yards Off Japan’s Coast,”Washington Post, May 22, 1981, p. A1. Back
167 Rudy Maxa, “A-Ship Apparently in Japan in Mid-1960s,” Washington Post, June 3, 1981, p. A1. Back
168 Ibid. Back
169 “LST 1122 History,” The LST 1122 Home Page, presented by Walter Martin (EM), n.d., downloaded July 15, 1999. Back
170 William Chapman, “Japan Backing Away From Trusting U.S. On Nuclear Accords,” Washington Post, May 24, 1981, p. A34. Back
171 Morton Mintz, “U.S. Stationed A-Bomb Ship 200 Yards Off Japan’s Coast,”Washington Post, May 22, 1981, p. A1. Back
172 “Mansfield Assures Japan on N-Weapons,” Washington Star, May 21, 1981, p. 20. Back
173 Henry Scott Stokes, “Japan’s Mood: Wary of U.S.,” New York Times, May 21, 1981, p. 6. Back
174 Edwin O. Reischauer, “Japan: The Meaning of the Flap,” Washington Post, June 5, 1981, p. 17. Back
175 “Miyazawa Denies Nuclear Armed Ship Movement Report,” Kyodo (Tokyo), July 10, 1981; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, July 13, 1981, p. C-1. Back
176 “Government Will Not Allow Nuclear Arms Into Country,” Kyodo (Tokyo), February 23, 1983; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, February 24, 1983, p. C-1.
The meeting and Ambassador Mansfield’s statement was essentially a pre-run of a meeting he would have with Abe’s successor three years later in connection with the visit of the battleship USS New Jersey (see below). Back
177 “Abe Stresses Ban Against Entry of N-Armed Ships,” Japan Times, March 11, 1983. Back
178 “U.S. Asserts Enterprise Won’t Carry N-Weapons,” Asahi Evening News, Mach 21, 1983. Back
179 “Nonnuclear Principles Cited,” Kyodo (Miyazaki), December 11, 1983; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, December 12, 1983, p. C-1. See also Asahi Shimbun, December 11, 1983; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 57. Back
180 “Nakasone Denies Visits Made By Nuclear-Armed Subs,” Kyodo (Tokyo), January 9, 1984; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, January 9, 1984, p. C-1. Back
181 Ibid.; See also Asahi Shimbun, January 9, 1984; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 58.Back
182 Telegram, U.S. Department of State to Tokyo Embassy, “Subject: Japanese Press on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy,” 310322Z Jan 84, p. 3. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
183 Ibid. Back
184 Admiral William Crowe, U.S. Navy (CINCPAC), “Subject: Secretary of Defence Quarterly Report, October-December 1984 (U),” 9 January 1985 (sent 10 January), p. 6. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Emphasis added. Back
185 Richard Halloran, “Pact Said to Let Atom Arms Stay Temporarily in Japan,” The New York Times, April 24, 1971, p. A8. Back
186 “Abe Says Japan Should Not Ask U.S. About N-Arm Visits,” Asahi Evening News, February 2, 1986. Back
187 Telegram, Tokyo 3910, U.S. Tokyo Embassy to Secretary of State, “Subject: GOJ Rejects Proposal by JSP to Question US About Nuclear Weapons Onboard US Naval Vessels,” 260723Z Feb 85, pp. 1, 2, 3. Confidential. Partially declassified and released under FOIA; See also Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), February 8, 1986; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 67. Back
188 Stephen Solarz, East Asian Subcommittee chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, January 1986, while in New Zealand; as cited in Derek Wilson, “Neither Confirm Nor Deny”, Pacific Institute of Resource Management, October 1988, p. 4. Back
189 Edward Neilan, “Battleship’s Visit to Japan Causing Only Mild Stir,” The Washington Times, August 22, 1986, p. 6. Back
190 Ibid. Back
191 “Abe, Nakasone Support U.S. Warship Post Calls,” Kyodo (Tokyo), February 8, 1986; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Section IV, Japan, February 10, 1986, p. C-3. Back
192 Clyde Haberman, “Japanese, Citing Nuclear Ban, Protest U.S. Ships,” The New York Times, August 25, 1986; Edward Neilan, “Battleship’s Visit to Japan Causing Only Mild Stir,” The Washington Times, August 22, 1986, p. 6; See also Asahi Shimbun (evening edition), August 16, 1986; as cited in Ohara 1991, p. 68. Back
193 Message, U.S. Tokyo Embassy to Secretary of State, “Subject: 1965 Loss of Nuclear Weapon,” 110933Z May 89 [May 11, 1989], p. 2. Secret/Excise. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
194 Ibid., p. 1. Back
195 Ibid., pp. 4-5. Back
196 U.S. Department of State, “Night Note — Japan: 1965 Nuclear Weapons Loss,” May 15, 1989. Secret/Excise. Declassified and released under FOIA. An anonymous former U.S. official said to be well informed on the bilateral negotiations for revising the security pack of 1960, told Kyodo News Service in 1995 that then Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi and then U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower exchanged a secret document in 1960 in which Japan promised to respect the neither confirm nor deny policy. Mikio Haruna and Kohei Murayama, “Tokyo ‘Freely’ Allowed Nuclear Ship Port Calls,” Kyodo News Service, October 27, 1995. Back
197 “U.S. Seeks to Close ‘Ticonderoga’ Issue,” Kyodo (Tokyo), December 27, 1989; as cited in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS-EAS-89-249, Northeast Asia, December 29, 1989, pp. 1-2. See also: “Japanese Close Book on Bomb”, New Zealand Herald, 30 December 1989; as cited in Robert E. White, “The neither confirm nor deny policy: Oppressive, obstructive, and obsolete”, Auckland University, December 1989, p. 35. Back
198 U.S. Department of State, Clark to Kimmitt, “Subject: Your Meeting with Deputy Minister Muriyama: Nuclear Transit,” n.d. [May 1989]. Secret/Sensitive. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
Nuclear War Planning in Japan
Perhaps more surprising than the routine introduction of nuclear weapons onboard warships and aircraft is the fact that part of the U.S. nuclear warplan itself (SIOP) was built and maintained at Fuchu Air Station. Moreover, facilities in Japan were routinely used for nuclear Command and Control operations to exercise this warplan.
The SIOP was the first attempt to bring together under a single coordinated plan the numerous nuclear strike plans of the ever-increasing number of nuclear weapons assigned to ships, submarines, aircraft, and land-based missiles. Incorporating the objectives and guidance of the National Strategic Targeting and Attack Policy, the SIOP governed all attacks on all targets listed in the National Strategic Target List (NSTL). It determined the targets to be attacked, the efforts to be expended against each target consistent with the value or the target, and integrated individual strikes for mutual support through the establishment of attack corridors, timing, and by other means.199
In the Pacific, the activation of the SIOP had a major impact on nuclear war planning and necessitated major revisions of nuclear war plans in the region. Besides the task of maintaining up-to-date intelligence upon which to base revisions to the target list, and planning for use and delivery of weapons, approximately 30 members of CINCPAC’s staff were engaged in analyzing existing plans and conducting war games on the PACOM portion of the SIOP. CINCPAC maintained permanent representation with the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at the Strategic Air Command’s Omaha headquarters, as well as other representatives who served there on a temporary basis.200
The most important change involved CINCPAC’s General War Plan (OPLAN 1-61), which contained the plans for use of U.S. forces in a general war with the Soviet Union in the period April 1961 to June 1962. OPLAN 1-61, which replaced CINCPAC’s General Emergency Operation Plan 1-58 from 1958, included 10 annexes, one of which (Annex E) contained the Nuclear Planning Data and Target Lists for General War. The annex defined the targets to be destroyed during the initial nuclear attack and those targets that would require a pre-described level of destruction or neutralization during operations following the initial nuclear attack.201
Another major change involved Operations Plan 23-61 (OPLAN 23-61), which contained the plans for U.S. military operations in support of British forces during a forced withdrawal from Hong Kong. If China attempted to push out Britain with military force, the U.S. Pacific Command would if necessary respond with nuclear weapons. The nuclear annex (Annex E) to OPLAN 23-61 was completed in December 1961.202
A third change occurred in Operations Plan 27-60, which governed the defense of South Korea. OPLAN 27-60 was based on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, and the Unified Command Plan. It was also based on UN resolutions regarding UN military assistance to South Korea, the Mutual Defense Treaty, and other agreements between the U.S. and the South Korea, as well as the Declaration of the Sixteen Nations Relating to the Armistice from July 1953. OPLAN 27-60 also provided for the use of nuclear weapons in the event of renewed communist aggression against South Korea, and a new nuclear annex (Annex E) was completed in August 1961. Despite the inclusion of nuclear forces in OPLAN 27-60, CINCPAC remarked that “the extent of operations in Korea are not to prejudice the primary task of securing Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines.”203
The perceived threat to Japan was important for the Japanese government’s attitude towards U.S. nuclear operations in Japan. During U.S. preparations for two high-level talks between the U.S. Ambassador and the Japanese government in early 1963, the Ambassador made numerous references to the Chinese Communist threat to Japan. Yet CINCPAC intelligence believed that this threat had been overrated, considering that the prime threat was the Soviet Union. The overt threat to Japan would occur only in a general war situation, CINCPAC intelligence concluded, and would be primarily a Soviet threat.204
The SIOP Planning
The SIOP depended upon reliable Command and Control facilities in Japan and upon the cooperation with Japanese defense forces. Some of the Command and Control facilities were located in Japan and on Okinawa. Following the nuclear exercise High Heels II in September 1962, for example, which was the “most successful test of PACOM’s communications system to date,” two facilities listed for inclusion in Defense Communication Agency (DCA) Mid-Range Plan included Camp Drake, Japan, and Fort Buckner in Okinawa.205
In some cases, joint U.S.-Japanese exercises even involved nuclear operations. One of three air defense exercises held during 1962 with the Japan Air Self Defense Forces (JASDF), for example, had the objective to test coordinated air attack, air defense capability, and “nuclear broadcast procedures.” The exercise included forces from the Pacific Air Force, 7th Fleet, Strategic Air Command (SAC), and the JASDF.206
The use of bases in Japan for strategic nuclear command and control operations continued in the mid-1960s when Yokota Air Base, together with Clark Air Base in the Philippines and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, was designated as a dispersed operating site for Strategic Air Command’s (SAC) new airborne command post aircraft. These specially equipped EC-135 aircraft, code-named Blue Eagle, would be kept airborne in a crisis to ensure continued command and control of U.S. nuclear forces despite a Soviet nuclear attack. During September 1965, Blue Eagle aircraft visited Yokota Air Base, as well as Clark Air Base and Kadena Air Base.207 During routine operations (DEFCON 5 and 4), Battle Staff Teams would make an average of three deployments a month to Blue Eagle support facilities in Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines. Under increased defense conditions, deployment of staff and aircraft to the dispersal sites would escalate.208
Before long, however, not only would U.S. bases in Japan be used to support the SIOP, but part of the nuclear war plan itself was actually built there. In 1967, CINCPAC established the Pacific Operations Liaison Office (POLO) in Fifth Air Force facilities at Fuchu Air Station. POLO was responsible for the production of various planning documents for the execution of the SIOP. It also built PACOM’s SIOP Reconnaissance Plan (Preplanned Reconnaissance Pacific (PRERECPAC)), and functioned as the nuclear operations liaison in the Western Pacific area. One of the branches at POLO was the Deputy for Command Center and Nuclear Operations branch, which included the Airborne Command Post Branch and the Nuclear Operations/Safety Branch.209
Planning and maintaining the nuclear war plans was a continuous and time-consuming process, and Fuchu Air Station was a frequent host for SIOP planning conferences. In October 1966, for example, CINCPAC directed his PACOM Operations Liaison Officer to hold the fifth annual PACOM Reconnaissance Conference at Fuchu Air Station. The conference planned and coordinated the use of reconnaissance assets under the SIOP to maximize target enemy coverage.210
As SIOP planning became more computerized and flexible, the need to located part of the function in Japan disappeared. Eventually, POLO was disestablished on July 15, 1972 in order to permit elimination of the Fifth Air Force’s redundant and costly automated data processing facility at Fuchu, and the SIOP functions transferred to facilities at Kunia in Hawaii.211
While the nuclear port visit debate raged in public, routine maintenance of the nuclear war plan was maintained in secrecy throughout the 1970s. In October 1974, for example, CINCPAC conducted a review of its emergency action procedures. In addition to Japan (and Okinawa), the team visited Guam, Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan to inspect the nuclear war fighting capability of facilities in those locations. This included: Command, Control, and Communications (C3) systems; the PACOM alert notification systems and procedures; the use, control, and storage of Sealed Authenticator Systems (SAS); emergency action procedures; and All-Source Information Center (ASIC) procedures. Units of interest were SIOP units, Emergency Action Message relay stations, command centers, and ASICs.212
Nuclear Command And Control Operations
Likewise, CINCPAC’s Airborne Command Post (ABNCP), called Blue Eagle, exercised Command and Control of nuclear war during a number of deployments to Japan. Continuous air-borne alert had been canceled in January 1970 due to cost, and the aircraft maintained on a ground alert capable of taking off on short notice. In 1974, however, CINCPAC introduced a new “deployed ground alert” concept, in which Blue Eagle held random 24-28 hour ground alert watch periods in conjunction with bi-monthly deployments to forward airfields in the Western Pacific. Deployed ground alert periods were randomly scheduled to Yokota in Japan and Kadena on Okinawa, as well as to Clark Air Base in the Philippines and Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taiwan. By the end of 1974, a total of 20 deployed ground alerts to these bases had been carried out.213
A special objective of these deployments during 1974 involved the maintenance of communication with selected nuclear ballistic missiles submarines and nuclear-armed aircraft carriers deployed near Japan. The Navy normally used its own TACAMO C-130 aircraft for this function, but resources for TACAMO aircraft had been temporarily reduced. Yokota and Kadena (as well as the Clark and Kang air bases) had been chosen because they bordered the patrol areas for the ballistic missile submarines. From one of these bases, the Blue Eagle aircraft could quickly reach an operational orbit within VLF/LF/HF range with the capability to relay SIOP emergency action messages to the submarines.214
Testing of the system had begun in February 1973, and through January 1974 a total of 21 missions had been flown to maintain SIOP communication with the strategic nuclear submarines. The tests, however, demonstrated that communication could not be guaranteed. Best reception was in range up to 1,200 nautical miles, but during the 21 missions flown, only 12 reports had been received from the submarines. Analysis of 40 SSBN reports indicated that they had only received 21 emergency action messages. The overall success rate from the aircraft to the submarines was 52.5 percent. Testing continued through the year, usually with three operations a month to selected submarines, aircraft carriers, and Naval Communications facilities in Guam, Japan, and the Philippines.215
Throughout the 1970s, Blue Eagle deployed ground alert exercises to Japan continued. In 1975, for example, Blue Eagle conducted ten deployed ground alert exercises at Kadena (Okinawa) and Yokota Air Base in Japan, and at Clark Air Base in the Philippines.216 Routine deployments to Yokota and Kadena continued in 1978, and in September that year, the Japanese Defense Agency Command Center Overseas Study Team visited the airborne command post.217 Again, during 1979, Yokota and Kadena were among four bases in the Pacific receiving “the most frequent” airborne command post visits.218
Just as strategic nuclear submarines had exercised with airborne command post aircraft around Japan in the 1970s, strategic nuclear submarine operations continued throughout the 1980s. One tragic reminder came in April 1981, when the strategic nuclear submarine USS George Washington (SSBN-598) collided with the Japanese merchant vessel Missho Maru while “on routine operations” only 110 miles south-southwest of Sasebo, Japan. Two Japanese crew members were killed and another 13 rescued by Japanese destroyer after the Missho Maru sank.219
The incident sparked a political furor in Japan, straining U.S.-Japanese relations only a month before a scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Zanko Suzuki and President Ronald Reagan. The United States was criticized because it waited 24 hours before notifying the Japanese authorities. After two days of furor, President Reagan and other U.S. officials expressed regret over the accident but refused to say what a strategic submarine was doing so close to Japan (only 20 miles outside the 12-mile limit) or whether it was carrying nuclear missiles.220
Airborne Command Post aircraft deployments to Japan continued throughout the 1980s and have continued into the 1990s. In December 1991, for example, a ABNCP aircraft deployed to Yokota Air Base in Japan and Cubi Point in the Philippines to provide alternate command authority (ACA) to the region.221 Again in November 1992, an EC-135 aircraft deployed to Kadena Air Base in Japan and Osan Air Base in South Korea. During the deployment, battle staff training “covered all facets of the SIOP and theater nuclear [Command and Control].” Moreover, site surveys were conducted at each location to determine the feasibility of using those locations as Alternate Command Facility (ACF) sites. While Osan AB was found to be only marginally satisfactory, logistics support for the deployment at Kadena AB was considered “outstanding.”222
In addition to such operational deployments, the U.S. also established a number of unique communication facilities in Japan that supported execution of U.S. nuclear war plans. This included Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) facilities that were one of the major components of the World Wide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) that provided the means for the U.S. National Command Authorities (NCA) and subordinate commands to direct U.S. nuclear and non-nuclear forces. DSCA ground stations were installed at Camp Zama near Tokyo in 1981, at Fort Buckner on Okinawa, and at Misawa Air Base at Honshu.223
By the mid-1980s, Japan had become the host to the most extensive U.S. nuclear infrastructure in the Pacific with over two-dozens sites housing nuclear related facilities. Four of the U.S. Navy’s six facilities designed to contact submerged submarines via very-low-frequency (VLF) transmissions, for example, were located in the Pacific; one of these was at Yosami in Japan. Moreover, four of five specially converted LORAN-C navigation beacons for communication with nuclear Trident submarines in the Pacific were located in Japan.224
These facilities were frequently involved in exercises that simulated execution of nuclear war plans. During the CINTEX-CRIMEX 85 exercise in February-March 1985, for example, the Seventh Fleet took part in an evaluation of the WWMCCS during a simulated period of deteriorating international political-military relations resulting in a large-scale conventional war and limited use of tactical nuclear weapons.225 Already by the early 1990s, however, the DSCS’s capacity was already proving too limited to handle the ever-increasing amount of Command and Control data.226
The Nuclear Offload
The endless battles with non-nuclear countries over nuclear port visits, along with the overall thaw in the Cold War, gradually eroded the justification for maintaining tactical nuclear weapons at sea. During Congressional hearings in 1988, the U.S. Navy had pledged its commitment to modernizing its nuclear stockpile “through vigorous and sustained efforts.”227 But behind the scenes the Navy had already taken its first steps toward a denuclearization of its combat fleet.
In early 1989, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that it had decided to scrap three tactical nuclear weapon systems: the ASROC ship-launched anti-submarine rocket; the SUBROC submarine-launched anti-submarine rocket; and the Terrier ship-launched anti-air missile. As a result, nearly 1,200 nuclear warheads would be removed from 142 ships and 27 submarines. While the move dramatically reduced the number of nuclear-capable ships, another 2,490 non-strategic nuclear weapons would remain in the fleet.228 The withdrawal of ASROC, SUBROC, and Terrier nuclear warheads was completed in early 1990.
Meanwhile, pressure was building in the White House for a complete removal of tactical nuclear weapons from the fleet. President Bush’s national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft, reportedly “leaned on” Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney to eliminate the weapons in an effort to undercut growing opposition in Scandinavia, the Pacific, and the Far East to nuclear port calls. Senior aides to Cheney, who opposed removal of nuclear cruise missiles from submarines, were overridden when Admiral Frank Kelso, the Chief of Naval Operations, made it clear that he did not object.229
On September 9, 1991, the idea had progressed so far that CINCPAC ordered his component commanders and the Commander for U.S. Forces in Korea to study the role of non-strategic nuclear forces in the Pacific. In doing so, CINCPAC reminded that non-strategic nuclear forces had played an important role in U.S. policy since the Korean War. Although their principle rationale related to the U.S.-Soviet Cold War confrontation, he pointed to new threats in the future, including the break-up of the Soviet Union, the refocus of U.S. national military strategy on regionalism and forward presence, the resurgence of ethnic and cultural conflicts, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.230
But events evolved too fast for any study. Only two days later, on September 11, the CJCS directed CINCPAC to develop a plan for the removal of nuclear artillery projectiles, nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles, nuclear strike bombs, and nuclear depth bombs “at the earliest opportunity.”231
Then, on September 27, 1991, President Bush announced that all nuclear weapons would be offloaded from U.S. Navy surface ships and attack submarines and all ground-based nuclear weapons would be withdrawn to the United States. “From Saturday on,” Pentagon spokesperson Pete Williams said shortly after the announcement, “no U.S. Navy surface ships or attack submarines have deployed from their ports with any tactical nuclear weapons on board.”232
The move solved the Japanese dilemma. Not only had the U.S. government announced in public that nuclear weapons would no longer be present on surface ships and attack submarines. It also said there would no longer be a need for a Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) policy for the vessels, the practice that had so complicated the relationships with Japan and numerous other countries around the world. The NCND policy would remain in effect, however, for strategic submarines and for bases and Air Force facilities where nuclear materials are stored “for obvious security reasons,” the Pentagon said.233 For naval forces, a “modified” NCND policy was ordered:
- It is general U.S. policy not to deploy nuclear weapons aboard surface ships, attack submarines, and naval aircraft. However, we do not discuss the presence or absence of nuclear weapons aboard specific ships, submarines, or aircraft.
“A major step forward to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons,” Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said modestly.235 The offload was not instantaneous, however. The withdrawal of the nuclear weapons was cleared by President Bush’s approval of the 91-92 Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization (NWDA) on November 5, 1991, which became National Security Directive 64 (NSD-64),236 but it would take nearly nine months before all nuclear weapons were removed from the fleet. “We could get the weapons home faster,” by sending out replenishment ships to bring weapons back, “but it would be dangerous. We don’t want a weapon accidentally dropped over the side,” a Navy official said.237
Warships that had sailed on overseas deployments even a few days before the announcement still carried their nominal load of nuclear weapons. At the time of the announcement, the U.S. Navy had several hundred nuclear strike bombs and depth charges onboard half a dozen aircraft carriers. Another 100 or so nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles were onboard attack submarines, cruisers, and destroyers. The USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) battle group, for example, had departed Norfolk Naval Base on the U.S. East Coast barely a week before the announcement. It carried a standard loadout of 100-120 nuclear bombs and depth charges onboard the carrier, and several nuclear Tomahawk missiles onboard the submarines, cruisers, and destroyers in the group.238
The initiative required the withdrawal of over 2,000 nuclear weapons worldwide,239and for CINCPAC it meant that nuclear weapons would be “removed at the first opportunity from ships homeported overseas.”240 By late February 1992, the Navy said it was “getting pretty close to having most of them [the nuclear weapons] off-loaded now.” As more of the nuclear-armed ships returned to port, Admiral Crowe said the Navy was “down to a handful of ships” that still had them onboard.241Finally, on July 2, 1992, President Bush announced that all nuclear weapons had been withdrawn.242
Despite the offload, CINCPAC was initially directed to retain the capability to regenerate and/or re-deploy naval nuclear weapons in a timely manner, and to ensure that storage and other necessary support infrastructure was maintained. Nuclear annexes to Operational Plans and non-SIOP options were to be maintained, and the annexes should include planning factors, timelines, and rationale to regenerate and/or re-deploy sea-based tactical nuclear weapons systems.243
For the surface fleet, however, the option to re-deploy nuclear weapons ended only a few years later, when the U.S. decided as part of the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review that surface ships and aircraft carriers should no longer have the capability to carry nuclear weapons at all. For cruisers and destroyers this meant loosing the ability to carry and launch nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles. For the aircraft carriers, this means that for the first time since the 1950s, flat-tops were no longer part of the U.S. nuclear strike force. Only attack submarines would continue to train and plan nuclear Tomahawk missions, although their weapons would be stored on land under normal circumstances.
The benefits from these events to the Japanese government were immediate not only because of the U.S. initiative itself, but also because other nuclear powers operating in the waters around Japan soon followed suit. In connection with the arrival of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Invincible to Yokosuka in July 1992, for example, the British Embassy in Tokyo readily confirmed in a letter to the Japanese Peace Resources Cooperative that Royal Navy ships and aircraft “no longer have the capability to deploy nuclear weapons.”244 Japan’s nuclear battle was finally over.
199 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1961,” Volume I, April 27, 1962, p. 15. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
200 Ibid., p. 50. Back
201 Ibid., pp. 15, 16. Back
202 Ibid., p. 17. Back
203 Ibid., pp. 15a (figure 8), 18.
Nuclear planning in the region in the early 1960s were not limited to U.S. and South Korean (UN Command) war plans, but also included contingency planning under the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which included the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Thailand. The SEATO Military Planning Office Plan 4 (MPO Plan 4) approved in 1960, which concerned intervention in Southeast Asia by North Vietnam and Red China, included planning on the use of nuclear. At one planning meeting in 1961, the French military advisor even attempted to insert in the plan a restriction on the use of nuclear weapons but later agreed to proceed with planning on the concept of operations predicated on using nuclear as well as conventional weapons. The following year, Thailand proposed consolidating MPO Plan 4 with other MOP plans, but this was rejected at the October 1962 meeting held in Bangkok. Ibid., pp. 138-139; Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1962,” April 30, 1963, pp. 126, 130. Both documents Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
204 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1962,” Volume I, April 30, 1963, pp. 47-48. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
205 Ibid., pp. 52-54.
The DCA Midrange Plan concerned teletype re-termination of selected high priority users of the Army and Navy into the automatic Air Force relays at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and Fuchu, Japan. During the month of October 1963, both Hickam and Fuchu relays were re-determined, prior to the DOD imposed December 1963 deadline. At the end of 1963, PACOM was operating a joint common user automatic relay environment to the extent that plans capacity would permit. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1963,” Volume I, April 27, 1964, p. 87. Confidential. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
206 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1962,” April 30, 1963, p. 135. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.Back
207 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1965,” Volume I, May 2, 1966, p. 32. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
208 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1966,” Volume I, June 3, 1967, pp. 58-59. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.
Later in the 1960s, range restrictions caused by unfavorable prevailing winds combined with an inability to guarantee refueling of the Blue Eagle aircraft in times of nuclear war, meant that only Guam could be reached at any time of year and Yokota, Japan when winds were favorable. Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, for example, would be out of range. Despite this limitation, Blue Eagle aircraft continued to deploy to Kadena during 1969 as part of SIOP Command and Control exercises. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, “CINCPAC Command History 1969,” June 18, 1970, pp. 45, 215. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
209 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1967,” Volume I, March 28, 1968, pp. 24-25. Secret; Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1972,” Volume I, August 31, 1973, pp. 45-46. Secret. Both documents partially declassified and released under FOIA.Back
210 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1966,” Volume I, June 3, 1967, pp. 86-87. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
211 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1967,” Volume I, March 28, 1968, pp. 24-25. Secret; Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1972,” Volume I, August 31, 1973, pp. 45-46. Secret. Both documents partially declassified and released under FOIA.Back
212 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1974,” Volume I, September 25, 1975, p. 96. Top Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
213 Ibid, pp. 97-98. Back
214 Ibid., p. 98. Back
215 Ibid. Back
216 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1975,” Volume I, October 7, 1976, p. 54. Confidential. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
217 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1978,” Volume I, September 28, 1979, p. 44. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
218 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1979,” Volume I, November 14, 1980, p. 34. NOFO/Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
219 U.S. Navy, “Command History of the Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet, 1 January 1981 – 31 December 1981,” Volume n.d. , p. 58. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
220 William M. Arkin and Joshua Handler, “Naval Accidents 1945-1988,”Greenpeace International and Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C., June 1989, p. 59. Back
221 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1991,” Volume I, October 30, 1992, p. 152. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
222 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1992,” Volume I, October 29, 1993, p. 139. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
223 Desmond Ball, Code 777: Australia and the US Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS), Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 1989, pp. 80, 8187, 100. Back
224 William M. Arkin and Richard W. Fieldhouse, Nuclear Battlefields: Global Links in the Arms Race (Cambridge, MA.: Ballinger, 1985), pp. 127, 128, 224. Back
225 U.S. Navy, “Command History of the Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet, 1 January 1985 – 31 December 1985,” n.d. , p. 21. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
226 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1991,” Volume I, May 31, 1972, p. 128. Secret. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
227 R. Jeffrey Smith, “6th Fleet at East on A-Arm Loss,” The Washington Post, October 17, 1991, p. A40. Back
228 Joshua Handler, “The U.S. ASROC, SUBROC and Terrier Tactical Naval Nuclear Weapons,” Greenpeace International, Washington, D.C., April 30, 1990, p. 2.
The scrapping of ASROC, SUBROC, and Terrier continued a trend evident since the late-1970s. Since then, eight U.S. naval nuclear weapons under development were canceled for one reason or another. This included the vertical-launch ASROC (Nuclear), the Standard Missile 2 (Nuclear), nuclear Harpoon, nuclear Phoenix, the Sea Lance anti-submarine warfare standoff weapon, insertable nuclear components, and a naval nuclear artillery projectile. Joshua Handler and William Arkin, “Nuclear Warships and Naval Nuclear Weapons 1990: A Complete Inventory,” Neptune Papers No. 5, Greenpeace International, Washington, D.C., September 1990, p. 1.Back
229 R. Jeffrey Smith, “6th Fleet at East on A-Arm Loss,” The Washington Post, October 17, 1991, p. A40. Back
230 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1991,” Volume I, October 30, 1992, p. 90. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
231 Ibid., p. 91. Back
232 Office of the Assistant Secret of Defense (Public Affairs), DOD News Briefing, October 1, 1991, noon. pp. 2, 4, 5. Back
233 Ibid. Back
234 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1992,” Volume I, October 29, 1993, p. 84. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
235 “World Leaders Laud Bush’s Arms Move,” The Washington Times, September 20, 1991, p. A6. Back
236 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1991,” Volume I, October 30, 1992, p. 91. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
237 David S. Steigman, “Nuke Removal Signals Changes,” Navy Times, October 14, 1991, p. 13. Back
238 Ibid., pp. 13, 14. Back
239 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1991,” Volume I, October 30, 1992, p. 91. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
First priority, however, was for transportation of Artillery Fired Atomic Projectiles (AFAP) from South Korea. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell specifically advised CINCPAC that the withdrawal of the weapons had to begin before the next meeting of the South Korean-U.S. military and security committees in November 1991. The speedy withdrawal was needed to prepare the ground for a joint declaration between the two Korean nations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. A draft declaration was signed in January, and formally exchanged at the Sixth Prime Minister’s meeting in Pyongyang on February 19, 1992. Ibid., p. 92; U.S. Air Force, “History of Pacific Air Forces 1 January-31 December 1992,” Volume I, July 14, 1993, p. 68. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
241 Susanne M. Schaefer, “Navy-Nukes,” Associated Press (Washington), February 23, 1992. Back
242 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1992,” Volume II, October 29, 1993, p. 553. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
243 Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, “CINCPAC Command History 1991,” Volume I, October 30, 1992, p. 91. Partially declassified and released under FOIA. Back
244 Carolyn Davidson, PS/HM Ambassador, British Embassy Tokyo, letter to Dr. Hiro Umebayashi, July 22, 1992. Back
About the Author
Hans M. Kristensen is a Research Associate with the Nautilus Institute’s Global Peace and Security Program, where he coordinates the Nuclear Policy Project’s Freedom of Information Act research on nuclear policy and operations in the Asia-Pacific region. He also coordinates the Non-Nuclear NATO Network, an Internet-based information project on NATO’s nuclear policy jointly operated by Nautilus and the Fourth Freedom Foundation. He was a member of the 1997-1998 Danish Defense Commission, and a Senior Research Associate with the Nuclear Information Unit of Greenpeace International between 1991 and 1996.As an independent military and foreign affairs analyst, Kristensen researches the role of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War era. The work, which has been supported by grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Ploughshares Fund, focuses on U.S. nuclear war planning in 1990s. Historical research includes the Strategic Air Command airborne alert program, naval nuclear operations and exercises, and nuclear diplomacy with a focus on the “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy. His work on U.S.-Danish nuclear relations led to the disclosure in 1994-1997 that the U.S. had secretly deployed nuclear weapons on Danish territory during the Cold War despite Denmark’s non-nuclear policy. The Danish government subsequently commissioned an investigation that concluded that Danish governments had turned a blind eye to indications that nuclear weapons were present.
In many democratic countries public scrutiny may be called for by law but with little real framework for researchers to pursue specific documents and information. In the United States, however, the revolutionary origin of the nation combined with a strong tradition for public oversight of the government, has created the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the unique law that establishes a formal process for public access to information about the government’s activities. Without this law, this paper would not have been possible.
Productive research through the FOIA, however, requires particular skills and approaches that take a long time to develop. Through my research career, I have been fortunate to work with some of the best researchers without whom I would not have been able to complete this paper. In particular, I would like to mention William M. Arkin and Joshua Handler, who taught me the art (and patience!) of FOIA research. My colleagues at Nautilus provided valuable project guidance and editorial comments; including Dr. Peter Hayes — whose year-long in-depth research of U.S. military operations in the Pacific produced many of the historical documents making this paper possible; Timothy Savage who contributed tireless editorial assistance; and Dr. Wade Huntley who approved and encouraged production of this paper. Sae-Ryo Kim and Suzanne Beck provided valuable research assistance.
I also want to acknowledge the work by the FOIA staff at the U.S. Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii and other U.S. military commands and agencies that processed the many FOIA requests. The Ships History Branch at the Naval Historical Center in Washington D.C. endured endless requests and Xerox-copying despite limited staff and resources, and the Department of Justice staff assisted when “bureaucracy” slowed FOIA processing down too much at the military agencies.
Last, but not least, I want to thank the Ploughshares Fund for making this work possible by its generous support to the Nautilus Institute’s Nuclear Policy Project’s FOIA research.
6 thoughts on “Japan Under the US Nuclear Umbrella”