Diet panel chief to demand gov’t admission on secret Japan-U.S. pact

Taro Kono, the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, told Kyodo News on Friday that he intends to demand that the government admit to the existence of a secret Japan-U.S. pact that has outlined the handling of U.S. forces' nuclear weapons since 1960.

Kono, a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, made the remarks after meeting former Vice Foreign Minister Ryohei Murata, who in various media interviews has testified to the existence of the pact, on Friday in Kyoto.

''I have judged from the testimony of Mr. Murata that there was a secret accord,'' Kono said. ''The Foreign Affairs Committee will not tolerate the government repeating the answer that there was no secret deal.''

His remark indicates that the lower house will demand that the government correct its remarks to parliament denying the existence of the deal.

But Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone has said, ''There was no secret accord. We do not intend to probe this again.''

U.S. diplomatic documents declassified in the late 1990s substantiate the existence of the deal.

After the lower house committee discussed the issue of the secret deal, Kono told a press conference on July 1 that the panel will conduct an investigation.

Kono said he will reveal the results of the investigation early next week.

Murata broke his silence when he told Kyodo News and other media late last month that it was a ''secret duty'' of vice ministers to inform foreign ministers of the secret accord.

Under the deal, which the two countries agreed on in revising the Japan-U.S. security treaty in 1960, Tokyo would give tacit approval for the stopover of U.S. military aircraft or vessels carrying nuclear weapons, although the treaty stipulates the need for Washington to hold prior consultations with Tokyo before bringing nuclear weapons into Japan.

The Japanese government upholds the ''three nonnuclear principles'' of not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory.

Kono told Kyodo News that Murata told him as much on Friday.

Murata served in the Foreign Ministry's top bureaucratic post from 1987 to 1989.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on July 10, 2009)