122. Editorial Note

The issue of U.S. bases in Japan moved into the spotlight in early June 1968 when an Air Force plane based at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa crashed off the runway at Itazuke Air Base in Japan. The accident [Page 277]occurred on June 2 during a night training flight. The plane struck a building under construction at Kyushu University and narrowly avoided hitting a nearby storage building containing cobalt 60. The incident sparked student demonstrations and ignited smoldering opposition to United States bases in or around densely populated areas. Reports of the crash and its aftermath are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 15 JAPAN–US; and Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Japan, Vol. VII.

Responses evoked by the plane crash, combined with latent sentiments aroused by the visit of the nuclear-powered surface ship USS Enterprise, the alleged contamination caused by the nuclear-powered submarine USS Swordfish, and other incidents, erupted in large-scale demonstrations on June 7 throughout Japan and led to the build-up of “a lot of pressure against bases, to point where even our staunchest friends among conservatives are unable to dissociate themselves from anti-base demands.” (Telegram 9069 from Tokyo, June 8; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 15 JAPAN–US) The situation was brought to the attention of Secretary Clifford in a memorandum from Assistant Secretary Warnke, who pointed out the increased pressures developing in Japan around the issue of United States bases. In light of that situation and in view of the adverse balance-of-payments problems suffered by the United States, Warnke recommended a reexamination of the bases in Japan to determine whether any could be closed or consolidated. (Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, June 7; Washington National Records Center, OSD/OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330 73 A 1250, Japan 091.112)