108. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State1

  • Subj: Nuclear weapons and Bonin negotiations
  • Ref: A. Tokyo 3060 B. State 857152
After Bonins negotiations meeting Dec 28, I spoke to Miki alone with only interpreters present about possible future use of Bonins for nuclear storage. I reminded him of our Nov 6 conversation on subject (ref A) and said I thought our concern could be accommodated at this time by my giving him top secret note advising him that in event contingency requiring nuclear storage we would wish raise matter and would hope request would be regarded in different light than for in Japan proper and would anticipate favorable reaction since request would not be made unless essential for vital security interests of area including those of Japan (ref B). (I mentioned ASW contingency as example of type of problem we had in mind.) I added that we would not expect any GOJ reply to my note.
Miki said that under a contingency in which USG would contemplate possibility of use of nuclear weapons in this area Japanese interests would also be so deeply involved that any request by us for nuclear storage would be considered in a vastly different atmosphere than that now prevailing. At such a crisis question of nuclear storage would have to be considered with respect to all of Japanese territory and not just a particular part such as Bonins. It would be very difficult to draw a distinction of principle between various parts of the country. In recent vigorous Diet debate he and PriMin had said nuclear issue not now involved in return of Bonins but had been careful to keep their freedom of action with respect to Okinawa. “Greatest domestic political problem GOJ faces over next few years is that of Okinawa nuclear issue.” He would greatly regret anything that could possibly leak out and muddy waters on fundamental Okinawa issue which GOJ had to face. Thus though even no reply was necessary or expected he much hoped we would not feel it necessary to transmit such a note.
I said problem was one of a formal official record to which reference could be made in the future and it seemed to me such a note was best method. Miki said he saw problem, wanted to think about it and again discuss with me.
Comment: Miki, of course, has a point. If knowledge of such a note and lack of any reaction from GOJ came into wrong hands, it could be used by opposition to belabor and embarrass Sato and Miki. On giving matter second thought I wonder how much value there is in such a note as compared with record embodied in my accounts of our official conversations on subject. Would appreciate Dept’s views.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 19 BONIN IS. Secret; Exdis; Priority. Repeated to CINCPAC for Sharp and with instructions to pass to OSD/ISA for Halperin.
  2. In telegram 3060 from Tokyo, November 6, U. Alexis Johnson reported on his November 6 meeting with Miki in which he put the Japanese on notice that the U.S. reserved the right to discuss the nuclear issue at the time negotiations on the Bonins were underway. (Ibid., POL JAPAN–US) In telegram 85715 to Tokyo, December 16, the Department of State informed the Embassy of the military aspects of the Bonins negotiations; see footnote 7, Document 107. (Ibid., POL 19 BONIN IS)