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Professor spearheads move to release Okinawa documents

Date Posted: 2008-10-03

Convinced there were secret deals made between Japan and the United States as it negotiated Okinawa’s return to Japanese control, a group of influential journalists and professors is demanding release of secret documents believed in the hands of the government.

Yasuhiro Okudaira, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, is teaming with a pair of veteran journalists to argue secret agreements were made between 1969 and 1971 that put Japan picking up reversion costs involved with giving Okinawa back from American control.

Three documents declassified by the U.S. government a half-dozen years ago are being sought by Okudaira, journalist Toshio Hara and former television news anchor Tetsuya Chikushi.

The trio insists Tokyo still has copies of the documents, which they say will prove the secret agreements were made to keep the Okinawa reversion talks moving. The group is calling upon the government “to reveal the truth and hand it down to later generations” by handing over the documents, which they say will contain the initials of the Japanese negotiators. “The obstinate and stubborn attitude of the government, which does not respect historical facts,” the group insists, “is a defection from the public.”

Okudaira, Chikushi and Hara began their quest for the documents after the Tokyo High Court rejected a claim for the documents by a former Mainichi Shinbun reporter. Takichi Nishiyama, now 76, wrote of the documents’ existence at the time of the 1972 reversion, actions that led to his being convicted for his stories, which the government said were written using classified information illegally provided to him by a Foreign Ministry secretary.

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