Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Archives: Japan ex-PM and Peace Nobel Prize Sato told US to use nukes if China strikes Japan!

Sato and Nixon

Shocking? No, politics.

In 1965, Japan's then prime minister Eisaku Sato asked the U.S. to deploy nuclear weapons against PRC if war broke out, according to newly declassified government files released to the public.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato made comments in a January 1965 meeting with former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that suggested he accepted port calls by U.S. nuclear-armed vessels, declassified documents have shown.

The information emerged in diplomatic documents released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. The ministry's historical documents hint that there was a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over bringing nuclear weapons into Japan.

The irony is that Sato obtained the Nobel prize* in 1974 "in recognition of Japan's entry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty"!

During his first trip to Washington Sato told then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that US military forces could launch a nuclear attack on the PRC by sea if needed. Sato also told McNamara that although Japan was technically capable of building atomic weapons, it had no intention of doing so. In the meeting, McNamara also reportedly asked the possibility of Japan exporting weapons. Referring to a space development rocket that Japan was producing, Sato said, "If the need arises it could be put to military use."

In 1969, Sato struck a deal with U.S. president Richard Nixon to repatriate Okinawa and remove its nuclear weaponry: this deal was controversial because it allowed the U.S. forces in Japan to maintain bases in Okinawa after repatriation.

Sato had entered the Diet in 1949 as a member of the Liberal Party, and gradually rose through the ranks of Japanese politics, becoming Chief Cabinet Secretary to Shigeru Yoshida, and in 1952, minister of construction. After the Liberal Party merged with the Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party, Satō became Minister of Finance in the governments of Nobusuke Kishi (his brother and ex-war criminal) and Hayato Ikeda.

These documents are already matter of bitter discussions. As the Mainichi shimbun pointed out in its English edition today:

"Historical records released in the United States in 1999 show that before the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised in 1960, Japan and the United States secretly agreed that calls by U.S. nuclear-armed vessels to Japanese ports would be exempt from preliminary arrangements outlined in the security treaty's accompanying documents. Commenting on the latest information, Foreign Ministry official Kazuhiro Suzuki said that there was no secret nuclear agreement between Japan and the United States. He said it was thought that the prime minister's comments were an expression of general expectations of U.S. nuclear deterrence from the sea if war were to break out."

Peace Nobel Prize...? A document about a period of tumultuous relation between Japan and the US, declassified in a period of on going master-slave tumultuous relationship!

NB: * Eisaku Sato received the Nobel Peace Prize (with Sean MacBride in 1974) in recognition of Japan's entry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and emergence as a peaceful world power. He died in Tokyo the following year.

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