The National Security Archive is today releasing on its World Wide Web site a set of recently-declassified U.S. documents obtained by Dr. Robert Wampler, Director of the Archive's U.S.-Japan Project, which shed important new light upon the role Okinawa and U.S. military bases on that island have played in U.S.-Japanese relations and American strategy in the Pacific. These documents were in part the basis for a documentary entitled "The Truth About the Okinawan Reversion After 25 Years: The Role of U.S. Bases as Shown in Classified Documents." NHK-Japan Broadcasting aired the documentary on its "Close-Up: Gendai" news program on the evening of May 14th (JST).
By far the most important and news-worthy of the documents are those which relate to NSSM 5, the National Security Council study produced in the spring of 1969 which analyzed the U.S. objectives and negotiating position on Okinawan reversion, with particular attention given to the question of the future of U.S. nuclear weapons based on the island. The documents relating to this report are:
(1) Memorandum, Ambassador Brown to Secretary Rogers, 4/29/69, Subject: NSC Meeting April 30 - Policy Toward Japan: Briefing Memorandum (Secret), with attached -
(2) Memorandum, Davis to Office of the Vice President, etc., 4/29/69, Subject: U.S.-Japanese Relationship: Summary (Top Secret), with attached
(3) NSSM 5 - Japan, Table of Contents and Part III: Okinawa Reversion (Secret)
(4) NSDM 13: Policy Toward Japan, 5/28/69
(5) Memorandum of Conversation, Nixon/Sato, 11/19/69 (Top Secret/Sensitive)
Documents 1-3 were originally marked by State Department reviewers as to remain secret "until expiration of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty." These documents provide a detailed discussion of the issues surrounding U.S. nuclear weapons in Okinawa and their fate following reversion, and makes recommendations as to the position the U.S. government should take in negotiations with Japan on this issue. Page 2 of the first document and pages 2-3 of the second one provide an overview of the issues, based on the more detailed discussion found in the attached NSSM 5 extract. This extract can only be found in one place, an obscure State Department record collection which Dr. Wampler discovered at the U.S. National Archives. The National Security Council had previously denied release of the material found in document No. 3, including even the descriptive information found on the table of contents. Dr. Wampler noted that Document No. 3 contains "a detailed discussion of U.S. military rights and interests regarding nuclear weapons on Okinawa, in terms of nuclear storage and freedom for nuclear operations in the Pacific and Asia. Until now, both Washington and Tokyo have maintained a veil of secrecy wrapped in refusals to comment on these subjects." (see pages 21-26 of Document No. 3) Of especial importance, Dr. Wampler notes, is the statement on page 25 under '(4) Only Transit Rights for Nuclear Armed Planes and Ships': "Japan now acquiesces in transit by naval vessels armed with nuclear weapons. This right would automatically extend to Okinawa. (This is sensitive and closely held information)." [emphasis added]
The policy paper which resulted from this analysis and the ensuing discussion within the U.S. government is Document No. 4: NSDM 13: Policy Toward Japan, dated May 28, 1969. Document No. 5 records President Nixon's meeting with Prime Minister Sato on November 19, 1969 at the White House during which they discussed these issues. This record is similar to the account which appeared in the memoirs of the late Prof. Kei Wakaizumi, Sato's secret emissary who conducted negotiations on Okinawa with Henry Kissinger, Nixon's National Security Advisor. lending credence to Wakaizumi's claims that a secret arrangement on the emergency reintroduction of nuclear weapons into Okinawa following reversion was part of the Okinawa agreement.
The other documents which NHK is highlighting in its documentary and reports are:
(6) Memorandum of Conversation, Rusk/Sato, 1/13/65, Subject: U.S.-Japan Relations and Related World Problems (Secret)
(7) Senior Interdepartmental Group Memorandum, 6/6/66, with attached paper, "Our Ryukyus Bases"
(8) Memorandum of Conversation, William Bundy/Japanese Ambassador Shimoda, 7/10/67, Subject: Okinawa and the Bonin Islands (Secret/Exdis/Need to Know)
(9) Memorandum JCSM-406-67, JCS Chairman Wheeler to Secretary of Defense McNamara, 7/20/67, Subject: Future Use of Ryukuan Bases (Top Secret)
(10) Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 8/7/67, Subject: Reversion of Okinawa and the Bonins (Top Secret)
(11) Memorandum of Conversation, Rusk/Sato, 11/15/67, Subject: Ryukyus and Bonins (Secret/Exdis)
(12) Memorandum, Sneider to Bundy, 12/24/68, Subject: Trip Report: Okinawan Reversion on the Front Burner (Secret/Exdis) with attached memoranda: Japan-Okinawa-Short Term, and Japan-Okinawa Reversion
(13) State Department Cable Tokyo 212, American Embassy Tokyo to Secretary of State, 1/11/69, subject: Ambassador Johnson/Foreign Minister Aichi discussion re Okinawa.
All of these documents provide new insights into U.S. interests and policy objectives with regard to the military importance of Okinawa and how to mesh U.S. military requirements with the political problems created for U.S.-Japanese relations by the continued U.S. presence on the island, and in particular by the nuclear role played by these forces. "These are records of particularly high-level discussions between U.S. and Japanese officials and leaders," Dr. Wampler emphasized, "giving a unique perspective on how these issues were being managed at the highest levels as both governments struggled with the dilemma posed by Okinawa, a dilemma which still bedevils the alliance."
The National Security Archive,
The Gelman Library, George Washington University
2130 H Street, NW, Suite 701, Washington, DC 20037
Phone: 202-994-7000 / Fax: 202-994-7005