Gov’t to admit existence of secret pact on nuke introduction

The Foreign Ministry has decided to admit the existence of a secret Japan-U.S. pact under which Tokyo allows stopovers of U.S. military vessels or aircraft carrying nuclear weapons, ministry sources said Saturday.

During its in-house probe, the ministry found documents suggesting the existence of the secret nuclear agreement, according to the sources.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Saturday, ''The probe is now in the final stage, and we will announce the outcome in January,'' although he declined to reveal the details of the probe.

While Washington is required to consult with Tokyo before bringing nuclear weapons into Japan under the 1960 bilateral security treaty, the ministry has determined the documents indicate that stopovers of U.S. military vessels or aircraft with nuclear weapons are not subject to prior consultation, the sources said.

The documents have already been disclosed in the United States.

The in-house probe has been conducted under the instruction of Okada, who, after assuming the ministerial post in September, ordered his ministry to look into purported bilateral secret pacts -- two related to the revision of the security treaty and two related to the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty from U.S. control.

The government led by the Liberal Democratic Party consistently denied the existence of the secret nuclear pact, saying, ''As we have never faced demands for prior consultations, we have no other choice than determining that nuclear (weapons) have not been brought into Japan.''

But the new government under the Democratic Party of Japan will officially change that stance.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on Nov. 21, 2009)