As I noted yesterday, the Japanese government released two reports
(an official report and an experts report) on the so-called “secret agreements” regarding the storage and transit of US nuclear weapons in Japan, as well as a massive amount of declassified supporting documentation.

Unfortunately (for me at least), this treasure trove is entirely in Japanese.

Below is the text of an article in the Yomiuri Shimbun, identified by reader Julia, which is the best description of the contents that I have found so far:

A Foreign Ministry panel of experts concluded in its report released Tuesday that there were three secret deals between Japan and the United States out of four alleged deals it has been investigating, including one on the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan concluded when the bilateral security treaty was revised in 1960.

[snip]

The six-member panel of experts classified secret agreements into two types: narrowly and broadly defined pacts. Narrow deals carried official agreements, but the government accepted obligations or cost burdens without informing the general public of the agreements. Broad secret deals were those without clearly documented arrangements that represented “tacit agreements.”

Although the panel could not confirm there was a clear secret agreement made at the time of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1960 between Japan and the Untied States over bringing nuclear weapons to Japan by U.S. forces, it recognized a “tacit agreement” to effectively tolerate port calls by U.S. vessels carrying nuclear weapons, categorizing it as a broadly defined secret agreement.

Concerning combat operations of U.S. forces in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, there was a “narrowly defined secret pact” compiled at the time of the 1960 treaty revision as the panel confirmed the existence of documents to prove that Japan promised the United States use of U.S. bases in Japan without prior consultations if the occasion arose.

On an agreement to cover cost burdens for the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japan from U.S. control, documents found in the United States, signed by the Foreign Ministry’s then American Bureau chief, did not bind the two nations and therefore cannot be called a narrowly defined secret deal, the panel concluded.

However, the panel recognized that the Japanese government shouldered costs for restoring land plots that the U.S. forces had used to their original condition—costs which should have been paid by the U.S. government—thus constituting a broadly defined secret pact.

However, the panel did not recognize the minute of an accord in 1969, believed to have been exchanged between then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and then U.S. President Richard Nixon during negotiations on the reversion of Okinawa to Japan, made public by a relative of Sato in December, as a secret agreement to allow nuclear weapons into Okinawa Prefecture in times of emergency, although the panel authorized the minutes as “genuine.”

The minutes did not have binding power after the Sato administration, according to the panel, which also cited other reasons.

As I read this, Japan allegedly agreed to four secret deals: two following the 1960 Security Treaty relating to (1) port calls and (2) the introduction of nuclear weapons in the event of renewed fighting in Korea and two following the 1972 reversion to Okinawa relating to (3) compensation to local landowners — it seems Tokyo agreed to pay the compensation to avoid revealing that nuclear weapons had been present in Okinawa — and (4) the Sato-Nixon accord on reintroduction of nuclear weapons that caused all the uproar in December.

Interestingly, the panel concluded that the Sato-Nixon understanding was the only allegation that did not constitute a secret understanding. The document is genuine, but apparently not binding. This Asahi editorial captures my thinking perfectly: “We do not understand how the panel reached this conclusion.” No kidding.

Of course, the answer may lie in the reams of Japanese documents that might as well be written in Klingon as far as I am concerned. Fortunately, we have some great Japanese speaking readers who’ve helped out on past issues like the Okada letter and an article in Sankei, including blogger Michael Cucek.

I really hope this interests you all as much as it does me.