Japan has tried to destroy secret nuke documents: report
Japanese Foreign Ministry bureaucrats had ordered the destruction of copies of a 1960 secret nuclear agreement between Japan and the United States just before the information disclosure law took effect in 2001, The Asahi Shimbun reported Saturday.
The order covered related documents, including a memo explaining the secret pact that was passed down to successive administrative vice foreign ministers, the newspaper quoted former officials as saying, Xinhua reported.
The secret agreement allows U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons to call at ports in Japan and U.S. aircraft armed with nuclear warheads to pass through Japanese airspace without prior consultation with the Japanese government. The pact creates a loophole in Japan's three non-nuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons to be brought into Japan.
The Japanese government has continually denied the existence of the secret pact, but U.S. documents and statements from former U.S. and Japanese diplomats strongly suggest otherwise.
A former high-ranking government official told The Asahi Shimbun that "I heard that the documents were all destroyed just before the information disclosure law took effect (in April 2001). "
The former official said documents prepared only on the Japanese side were also targeted, including a government manual on how to respond to questions regarding the 1981 testimony of former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer on the existence of the secret pact.
However, the former government officials acknowledged that they did not actually witness the burning or shredding of the documents, the report said.
The pact's existence was validated in 2000 through declassified U.S. State Department documents.
In addition, Ryohei Murata, a former administrative vice foreign minister, acknowledged in a recent interview that when he took over the post in the late 1980s, his predecessor handed over a single piece of clerical stationery that explained the secret agreement.
Murata said he explained the secret agreement to two foreign ministers during his tenure.
The practice of explaining the pact to foreign ministers apparently ended in 2001, when Lower House member Makiko Tanaka assumed the post.
Another former administrative vice foreign minister would not confirm if the secret agreement existed.
"No document recording the secret pact remains. There is no way one can present something that does not exist," the former vice minister said to the newspaper.
In the latest evidence, Kyodo News reported on Saturday the Foreign Ministry had kept the English-version document of a secret Japan-U.S. pact, quoting an unnamed former senior ministry official.
The document had been placed under the strict supervision of the ministry's North American Affairs Bureau and Treaties Bureau, which is now International Legal Affairs Bureau, said the official who served as director general of the Treaties Bureau.
It is the first time that the existence of the English-version document at the ministry has been revealed, Kyodo said.
A former vice foreign minister has already confirmed the existence of a Japanese-version of the document in the ministry.