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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 October 10 - 16  > U.S. forced Japanese government to ‘correct’ its statement in parliament about radioactive pollution from U.S. submarine
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2007 October 10 - 16 [US FORCES]

U.S. forced Japanese government to ‘correct’ its statement in parliament about radioactive pollution from U.S. submarine

October 12, 2007
It has been revealed that the United States pressured the government of Japan to retract its earlier explanation to the parliament that radioactive pollution detected in Okinawa’s ports was probably caused by U.S. nuclear-powered vessels.

Niihara Shoji, analyst of international affairs, made the revelation on October 8 at a rally in Yokohama by showing declassified U.S. documents that he obtained in the United States.

One of the declassified documents clearly states: “Results of analysis of radioactive nuclides in sea bottom mud from Okinawa (conducted May 22, 1972 by the JACRI)...showed an abnormally high rate of cobalt 60”

At the House of Councilors Audit Committee meeting on February 25, 1974, Japanese Communist Party representative Kato Susumu questioned the government about the high level of cobalt 60, one of the radioactive materials detected in the sludge collected from the bottoms of Naha Port and White Beach, at which U.S. submarines have been calling.

Ihara Yoshinori, then Science and Technology Agency Atomic Energy Bureau vice director general, said, “Part of the ‘high rate’ of cobalt 60 which was detected from the samples of sea bottom mud from Okinawa in the surveys conducted (at that time) or immediately after reversion is assumed to be due to SSNS.”

But three days later, on February 28, Ihara in reply to another lawmaker retracted his earlier explanation, saying, “The cause (of the unusually high level of cobalt 60 being detected) is not clear at all.”

The telegram about “Alleged radioactive pollution from SSNS,” which Niihara obtained in the United States, had been sent to the U.S. secretary of state on February 27, 1974.

The telegram shows that the day after the JCP representative raised the question, a U.S. Embassy counselor in charge of political and military affairs told the Foreign Ministry Security Division chief that Ihara’s remarks were “amazing,” and that steps be taken by Japan so that such remarks will never be raised in the Diet. Later, the Foreign Ministry official let Ihara know about the U.S. position. Ihara then said, “What I stated in the Diet was mistaken.”

The telegram also states that the U.S. Embassy counselor for political and military affairs also suggested that the foreign ministry broaden its explanation of causes of cobalt 60 to include naturally occurring cobalt 60 in the “abnormally high rate” of radioactive materials detected in Okinawa, and the Foreign Ministry division chief accepted the U.S. demand.

However, cobalt 60 is an artificial isotope and the U.S. secretary of state acknowledged that cobalt 60 is “not a naturally occurring radioactive isotope” in a telegram he sent on March 6, 1974 to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. This shows that Japan’s Foreign Ministry uncritically accepted all U.S. instructions, even if it was evident that they were scientifically incorrect.

Niihara said, “The document shows that the U.S. government takes it for granted that it can force the Japanese government to ‘correct’ its statements in parliament. Under the ‘U.S.-Japan alliance’ Japan is deeply subservient to the U.S.”
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