Thursday, July 23, 2009

Komori on Murata

Finally, to square that circle rightwing journalist and Washington's favorite Japanese guy, Yoshihisa Komori of the Sankei Shimbun added his support to Amb. Ryohei Murata's unburdening himself of the state secret that Japan allowed U.S. ships to carry nuclear weapons through national waters.

I am all for starting a discussion on Japan's relationship with all things nuclear--there have been at least three Japanese governmental studies on the feasibility of possessing nuclear weapons (I will discuss this later)--but I am not comfortable with a clearly orchestrated effort to initiate it. Most good scholars and analysts would be as there is less interest by Murata and his supporters in debate than in creating fear and uncertainty.

Before I discuss this issue a bit more, I want to share with you a translation of Mr. Komori's essay on his "shock" of first learning about the agreement from former Amb. Edwin Reischauer.

Security policy based on lies

SANKEI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly), July 19, 2009

by Yoshihisa Komori, editor-at-large in Washington

"There is a verbal agreement between the governments of Japan and the United States allowing U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons to pass through Japan's territorial waters and to call at Japanese ports."

I still remember hearing these shocking words for the first time from former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer at his home in a Boston suburb on one sunny day in May.

The memory of this event was evoked by the recent statements by former Vice-Foreign Minister Ryohei Murata and Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Yukio Hatoyama on the three non-nuclear principles. Both Murata and Hatoyama made their remarks regarding the "introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan" in line with the Reischauer statement of 1981.

The first half of the interview with Reischauer took place at his living room and the latter half in his backyard.

Back then, I was doing research on Japan-U.S. security issues as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on leave from the Mainichi Shimbun. The interview with Reischauer was primarily part of my research project. I had planned to ask questions without fail about nuclear introduction based on a plan by my superiors and colleagues at the Mainichi Shimbun. Reischauer's reply was surprisingly candid.

"The word 'mochikomi [bringing in]' used on the Japanese side and the word 'introduction' used on the U.S. side means two different things."

Insisting that the two words meant the same thing, the Japanese government declared that passage through Japanese territorial waters and port calls by nuclear-armed U.S. warships would be a violation of the principle of not allowing bringing nuclear weapons into Japan of the three non-nuclear principles.

The U.S. side, on the other hand, insisted that passage through and port calls would not be a violation of the three non-nuclear principles because they would not constitute the introduction of nuclear weapons and therefore they should be exempt from prior consultations between Japan and the United States.

"In English, 'introduction' strictly means the deployment and stockpiling of nuclear weapons on the ground. The Japanese government should explain the difference of the word 'mochikomi' to the general public."

Reischauer even told me that the Japanese government's declaring that nuclear-armed U.S. warships did not pass through Japanese territorial waters or enter Japanese ports, while knowing the difference in the meanings of the words, was tantamount to telling a lie.

The Mainichi Shimbun ran a scoop on this statement under the titles of "Nuclear-armed U.S. warships made port calls in Japan," "Japanese government aware of them," and "Former Ambassador Reischauer reveals." This naturally caused a sensation. The Japanese government was grilled at home and abroad over the fictitious nature of the three non-nuclear principles, but despite Reischauer's statement, it never acknowledged it had lied.

It has been 28 years since then, and former Vice-Foreign Minister Murata has called a lie a lie as an official in the government back then. Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama, too, is likely to press the government to admit the existence of the secret nuclear pact between Japan and the United States, as was pointed out by Reischauer.

I want to welcome the statements by Murata and Hatoyama. I strongly believe the Japanese government should go back and acknowledge the difference in interpretations of "introduction" with the United States. Otherwise, Japan will have to face the foundation of its security policy and challenges that are based on a bunch of lies. Security and defense policies based on lies are unacceptable.

I still cannot forget the sinking feeling similar to despair I had after reporting on the Reischauer statement and confirming the Japanese government's reaction to it. That was because I was made to feel that my studies on Japanese security policy and its objective rested on a pack of lies.

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