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U.S. used secret nuclear pact to pressure Japan to enable U.S. nuclear subs to pass through 5 Japanese straits

Declassified U.S. documents show that the United States had pressured Japan to exclude five Japanese straits, including Soya, Tsugaru, and Tsushima, from the enforcement of the 1977 Territorial Waters Act that extended Japanfs territorial water limit to 12 nautical miles from the three mile limit so that free passage of U.S. nuclear submarines would be secured.

Niihara Shoji, an international affairs analyst, revealed this based on declassified documents obtained from the U.S. National Archives.

With the 12-mile limit coming into force, these five straits would have belonged to Japanfs territorial waters and eventually blocked U.S. submarinesf free passage.

In 1977, in advance of the Convention on the Law of the Sea coming into effect to establish the 12-nautical mile economic zone, the Japanese government in a bylaw to the Territorial Waters Act provided that the five straits gfor the time beingh will remain under the three mile limit.

Then Japanese Communist Party representative Masamori Seiji at a House of Representatives committee meeting on April 21, 1977, questioned the government: gIf the 12-mile limit is applied to these five straits, passage of U.S. vessels through these straits will conflict with Japanfs Three Non-Nuclear Principles (not to possess, manufacture, or allow nuclear weapons to be brought into Japan). I suspect that the government kept these straits under the previous three-mile limit in order to evade opposition partiesf criticism.h

What Masamori pointed out has been proven to be true by Niiharafs latest revelation.

According to a 1972 document, "Commander in Chief Pacific Command History", the commander said five straits in Asia, including Soya and Tsugaru of Japan, are "considered to be essential to U.S. interests."

Inability to use these key straits could cause a direct impact on U.S. submarine operations in support of its anti-Soviet, China nuclear war scenario called the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) if the passage of nuclear weapons-carrying vessels was restricted, the document said.

The U.S. State Department asked the U.S. Embassy in Japan in a letter in June 29, 1974 to warn Tokyo, as follows; gOn specific instructions from the president, repeatedly confirmed, the United States delegation has made it clear that it cannot accept a Law of the Sea that does not protect unimpeded transit through and over straits used for international navigation.h

Why did the Japanese government yield to U.S. pressure toward excluding the five straits from the 12-mile limit? This was due to the fact that Japan was bound by bilateral secret agreements with the United States to allow the U.S. to bring in nuclear weapons into Japanese territory, pacts concluded in 1960 when the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised.

This extraordinary decision to keep the five straits under the three mile limit is still valid today. Coupled with the bilateral secret pacts on nuclear weapons, this mechanism is functioning to allow the free operation of U.S. nuclear submarines within Japanfs territorial waters. This is not just a thing of the past.

- Akahata, October 12, 2009


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