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Solidarity In Japan
By Steve Hawkins
On March 1, 1954, the US detonated a hydrogen bomb on the Bikini Atoll in a last ditch effort to rescue the French at Dien Bien Phu by intimidating the Vietnamese liberation forces. Radiation from this "test" caused the death of Mr. Kuboyama -- a crewmember of the Japanese fishing boat in the vicinity. The Japanese peace movement views this as the third attack against them by the US with nuclear weapons. In a spirit of international solidarity VVAW has co-operated with the Japanese movement to help rid Asia of the constant threat of US nuclear attack. A major obstacle to our goal is the Japan-US security agreement signed 1950. To this end, several VVAW members have gone to Japan, including Al Hubbard, who testified he brought nuclear weapons into Japan in 1965. This was the first time an American had verified the peace movement claims there, and consequently caused a great deal of public dissent.
It is a violation of the agreement to store, use or transport nuclear weapons on Japanese soil, through Japanese water right-of-ways or ports, or through Japanese airspace. It is also a violation to conduct direct sorties from Japanese territory against other countries -- ie, Vietnam. In 1971, Okinawa was reverted from US control to Japan, placing it under the same restrictions in regard to the US-Japan security agreements as Japan itself.
There are three basic reasons why we are in Japan today and why maintaining the military alliance is crucial to the US. Japan, like Great Britain, is an immovable aircraft carrier, capable of serving as an indestructable base for air operations throughout Asia. Second, it is an arsenal of military and strategic supplies. Third, Japan has a big shipbuilding industry and is a potential source for allied troops to be used against liberation struggles. A few minutes reflection on the Nixon Doctrine of using foreign people to fight each other rapidly points out the importance of the latter. This accomplishes both maintaining our control of these areas and reducing the visibility of our intervention. US military control of Japan is central to global US military strategy and is of special importance in Indochina and Asia. Japan was the main link between PACAF HQ and 7th AF HQ in Saigon and is a central location for intelligence coordination. Okinawa has a big SAC B-52 base used against Indochina, SR-71 photo-reconnaissance KC 135 refueling for B-52s from Guam, fighter squadron communications, and intelligence units.
This year's Bikini Day, I and Gary Staiger went to represent VVAW. I went to testify about the nuclear weapons I saw in Kadena Airbase, Okinawa, when I was stationed there. I also testified about the antipersonnel, chemical, incendiary, and electronic weapons I used in Vietnam. Gary met with the GI projects, VVAW chapters, and Pacific Counseling Service (PCS) folks. Joint actions were conducted with VVAW, PCS, and several Japanese groups in support of the GI Movement in Japan. I had in-depth meetings with the Japanese Diet (parliament) in both Tokyo and Okinawa, convening special sessions to investigate my allegations.
The influence of our presence will be felt for some time to come, as evidenced by the Japanese government granting permission for some bases to be inspected for nuclear weapons. Access had consistently been denied in the past. A statement from Prime Minister Tanaka and the director-general of his cabinet's Defense Agency said "Nuclear warheads to be equipped for 155 MM atomic cannon, nuclear landmines, and anti-aircraft artillery are defensive arms and the possession and introduction of such weapons into Japan is constitutional." This statement corresponds to what DOD Secretary Richardson said in a closed meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee in connection with the Japan-US military alliance on March 28 and what Nixon said in a televised speech March 29, proclaiming US policy of maintaining military and nuclear superiority. Tanaka's statement is a complete reversal of his previous position and in direct violation of the treaty.
The Okinawa Reversion Act stemmed directly from the Nixon Doctrin and had a primary goal of reviving Japanese militarism. According to Kiich Aichi, former Japanese Foreign Minister, the Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF) has a "conventional firepower greater than that of the Imperial force at their wartime peak." Recently, the US has turned over control of several nuclear-capable Nike missile sites to the SDF. Obviously the US wants the SDF to play a more equal role in the military strategy for Asia.
That the US has detailed contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons in Indochina was pointed out in an April 7, 1972 column of Jack Anderson in the Washington Post. Jim Walkley, a former USAF intelligence analyst, revealed that he worked on target planning at Hickam Field, Hawaii where the US command has developed and continually updates contingency plans for local nuclear warfare in Indochina. It is the aim of VVAW in cooperation with all progressive forces to do its utmost to prevent the tragic consequences of another nuclear attack.