By Steve Rabson
Abstract: The Navy ship containing nuclear bombs that a junior officer saw anchored off Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station in 1959 was only the most notorious of many U.S. violations of Japan’s official policy banning nuclear weapons. The Japanese government has a long history of secretly agreeing to their deployments, and feigning ignorance when they were revealed. The outrage that erupted in the press and in the Diet when former American Ambassador to Japan, Edwin Reischauer, spoke publicly in 1981 about nuclear-armed warships in Japan’s ports came close to bringing down an LDP government. In Okinawa local residents protested the large numbers and types of nuclear weapons based there during the U.S. military occupation (1945-72). Breaking its promise that they be permanently removed, the Japanese government concluded a secret nuclear understanding as part of the 1969 Okinawa Reversion Agreement that the U.S. government could bring them back whenever it decided there was “a great emergency.” In 2009 a high Japanese government official advocated their return to Okinawa in testimony before a U.S. Congressional Commission.