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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 June 20 - 26  > A nuclear weapon in Okinawa would not defend but endanger Japan
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2018 June 20 - 26 [US FORCES]

A nuclear weapon in Okinawa would not defend but endanger Japan

June 26, 2018
Akahata ‘current’ column

Steve Rabson, professor emeritus of Brown University in the U.S., in his article in the digital magazine Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Focus dated June 1 looked back into the past and said that he was worried that he, his fellow soldiers, and Okinawans had been put in danger.

When Okinawa was still under U.S. occupation, Rabson was stationed there as a member of the U.S. Army. He had anxieties about “Nike Hercules” nuclear missiles then deployed on the island. This surface-to-air missile is around 12 meters in length and weighs around 5 tons, according to a U.S. military report.

At that time, the U.S. military thought that conventional anti-aircraft missiles were insufficient to deal with attacks from Soviet military aircraft in large formation. The nuclear warheads of Nike Hercules missiles were designed to be detonated in the air to destroy enemy planes. It was a matter of course for Rabson to fear that such an explosion would destroy the aircraft but at the same time scatter radioactive fallout on the ground.

In 1959, a Nike Hercules missile at the U.S. Naha Air Base was accidentally launched and fell into the sea. This accident, which could have resulted in a nuclear explosion which would have wiped out the entire city of Naha, was depicted in a TV documentary on Okinawa and the deployment of nuclear weapons aired on NHK in September 2017, shocking viewers.

In 1967-68, Rabson was assigned to an ammunition storage depot in the Henoko district, northern Okinawa mainland. He assumed that nuclear weapons were stored at the facility at that time. Security was so tight at the site that military personnel there were instructed to arrest and question any persons, even including local residents who just stopped their cars on the road near the depot.

Currently, the Japanese government is pushing forward with the construction of a new U.S. military base near the Henoko storage site. The Japanese and U.S. governments are known to have made secret agreements that the U.S. maintains the right to redeploy nuclear weapons to Okinawa in the event of emergency and that the ammunition storage depot in Henoko is kept fully functional and in operating condition. Rabson wrote, “Nuclear weapons do not ‘defend’ Japan, but make an attack on the country much more likely in the event of war.” The Henoko base construction will pave the way for more nightmares to come.

Past related articles:
> Japan’s high-ranking diplomat agreed to US proposal on nuclear facility construction in Okinawa [March 5, 2018]
> Gov’t must abolish ‘secret agreement’ with US over bringing-in of nuclear weapons to Japan [May 12, 2016]
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