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Japan-U.S. alliance and SDF -- Part V Secret pact on ‘US control’

July 22,2010
The U.S. forces in Korea were supposed to give back the right to command wartime operations to Korean troops in 2012. However, the USFK changed its mind in June and extended the term of commanding for another three years. The wartime command is a serious matter related to national sovereignty.

In Japan, there is no such provision existing between Japan and the United States. In fact, there is – a secret agreement.

In its stead, an agreement secretly made in regard to the “Japan-U.S. combined command” under which Japan’s Self Defense Forces will be placed under U.S. control for “Japan’s emergencies” is in place. From 1951 to 1960, during the process of forming a Japan-U.S. security structure, this agreement was made with many other secret deals for the purpose of hiding inconsistencies with the war-renouncing Japanese Constitution.

Draft Administrative Agreement

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year released a set of declassified documents. According to these documents, it was on December 21 of 1951 when the U.S. government first put forward the secret deal as part of the Draft Administrative Agreement.

Article 22, Paragraph 2 of the Draft Administrative Agreement stipulates that the United States “may, in agreement with the Government of Japan, establish a combined command and designate a commander thereof, such a Commander would exercise operational command over all United States Forces in the Japan area and over all Japanese security organizations in Japan, except local police, capable of contributing to the defense of Japan.”

The Draft Administrative Agreement should have been a temporary agreement before an official agreement between independent countries in the wake of the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed. However, the structure of occupation the U.S. had over Japan did not change at all.

Minister of State at that time Okazaki Katsuo was in charge of Japan-U.S. negotiations regarding the administrative agreement. He knew in advance that the agreement would provoke a fierce backlash from both ruling and opposition parties in Japan. During the 2nd round of the negotiations held unofficially on January 31 of 1952, he expressed his view that “what Article 22 states is as a matter of course” but “from Japan’s legal and political perspectives, the government of Japan finds it difficult to agree to incorporate such provisions” into the official administrative agreement.

As a result, he and his counterparts secretly agreed to not leave any description on the combined command “either in exchange of notes or meeting minutes in the 15th round of unofficial talks on February 23, 1952.”

The Japan-U.S. Administrative Agreement was concluded on February 28, 1952 and Article 24 states, “In the event of hostilities, or imminently threatened hostilities, in the Japan area, the Governments of the United States and Japan shall immediately consult together with a view to taking necessary joint measures for the defense of that area.”

However, the secret promise on a combined command was in the background of this official provision in a form of an oral agreement. When the Self-Defense Forces were inaugurated in July 1954, both governments reconfirmed the secret agreement.

Secret pact on combined command still valid

The Japan-U.S. Administrative Agreement was carried over to the existing Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in the wake of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty on January 19, 1960. Accordingly, the Article 24 provision disappeared. However, similar provisions have been included in Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

It is difficult to examine the validity of the secret agreement on a combined command because it is in the form of an oral agreement. The SDF military integration with U.S. forces continues to take place. The SDF command functions are also to be integrated with the U.S. command based on the ongoing U.S. military realignment plan. Looking at these developments of the SDF from its birth till now, the secret agreement appears to be still in force.
- Akahata, July 22, 2010
(To be continued)

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