U.S. military kept nuclear weapons on Okinawa prior to 1972: Pentagon

U.S. military kept nuclear weapons on Okinawa prior to 1972: PentagonThe U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Base in Ginowan, OkinawaAFP

WASHINGTON —

The U.S. government has declassified the fact it held nuclear weapons on Okinawa in Japan during the Cold War, though the matter had long been an open secret.

A Department of Defense website states the Pentagon has declassified “the fact that U.S. nuclear weapons were deployed on Okinawa prior to Okinawa’s reversion to Japan on May 15, 1972.”

The National Security Archive at George Washington University welcomed the disclosure, but pointed to U.S. Air Force photos depicting nuclear weapons on the island that have been publicly available for more than 25 years.

“However welcome the release may be, its significance is somewhat tempered by (that) astonishing fact,” the non-governmental research group said in a statement Friday.

The group added that the U.S. government had wasted an “inordinate” amount of time and resources by delaying the declassification.

Japan is the only nation to have been attacked with nuclear weapons. The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, killing more than 210,000 people and leading to Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Japan has since campaigned to abolish the weapons. Former prime minister Eisaku Sato won the Nobel Peace Prize largely for his “three principles”—that Japan will not possess, produce or allow nuclear weapons on its soil.

Okinawa remained under U.S. control until 1972, and many parts of the archipelago are still used for U.S. bases.

© 2016 AFP

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