February 9, 2010
Japanese Split on Exposing Secret Pacts With U.S.
For decades, Japanese leaders have gone to great lengths to deny the pacts’ existence, despite mounting proof to the contrary from the testimony of former diplomats and declassified documents in the
Now, the so-called secret treaties are causing problems again, this time in how
The new administration in
The problem is that the inquiry is coming at a delicate moment in
However, those involved in the investigation in
Mr. Okada and the others stressed that the existence of the treaties had already been made public in the
“The prime minister and I cannot just stand before Parliament and deny the secret treaties, as has been done until now,” Mr. Okada said. “We are just doing what the
Diplomatic experts agree that exposing the treaties will have little or no direct effect on the alliance, partly because the
But the investigation could have unintended consequences if it uncorks long-suppressed public debate on a point that Tokyo has, until now, purposefully left vague: whether Japan, which officially bans nuclear weapons from its territory, can continue to rely on the United States’ nuclear umbrella, which may require it to allow carrying such weapons on American ships and planes in a time of crisis.
This could lead to calls to remove the American bases, rewrite
“This is the biggest contradiction of the postwar period,” said Masaaki Gabe, a professor of international relations at University of the Ryukyus in
According to experts, there were four known secret pacts, made when the two countries revised their security pact in 1960 or during negotiations for the return of the southern islands of Okinawa to
His revelations provoked a battle pitting the public’s right to know against government demands for secrecy that many here likened to the Pentagon Papers in the
Public attention quickly turned to his arrest and the details of his affair with a Foreign Ministry worker, which he admitted took place.
However, he says the tabloid aspects of the case were highlighted by prosecutors to divert public attention from discussion of the secret pacts themselves. Japan’s Supreme Court found Mr. Nishiyama guilty of obtaining state secrets in 1978, and he has been filing lawsuits ever since, seeking an official apology and the disclosure of documents related to the treaties.
“Why do the Japanese people only learn about their own government from documents disclosed in the
Mr. Nishiyama and a handful of civic groups seeking evidence of the pacts got a boost in 2000, when the
“After dozens of years have passed, you cannot keep distorting history,” said Mr. Yoshino, now 92.
Mr. Okada, the foreign minister, said he was aware of the criticism that the investigation was anti-American, which he called a misunderstanding. He said exposing the truth would actually strengthen the alliance by righting a past wrong that had led many Japanese to doubt the sincerity of their own government and the
“Telling the facts to the people is extremely important for democracy,” he said, adding that the change in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs