Kissinger’s Japan Ties Included Talks on Return of Okinawa; Former U.S. Official’s Writings Appeared in Yomiuri Shimbun

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Henry Kissinger, left, shakes hands with then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who died at 100 on Wednesday, had a close relationship with Japan for a long time, having attended the Japan-America Student Conference as a student. He visited Japan many times after his retirement from government positions, and made proposals on Japan’s role in the international community, including through his participation in the Trilateral Commission, a policy recommendation body formed by private-sector experts from the United States, Japan and Europe.

Kissinger was also involved in negotiations that led to the 1972 return of Okinawa to Japan. As national security advisor to then President Richard Nixon, he negotiated with international politics expert Kei Wakaizumi, an emissary for then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, on the secret promise that Japan would allow the United States to bring nuclear weapons to Okinawa in case of emergency, in exchange for Okinawa’s return.

Sato held his first meeting with Nixon in Washington in November 1969. They went into a small room next to the Oval Office and signed an agreed minute, in accordance with the scenario Kissinger and Wakaizumi had prepared.

The document stipulated the United States would remove all nuclear weapons from Okinawa by the time of Okinawa’s return to Japan, but that Japan would acknowledge that the United States retained the right to bring nuclear weapons back to Okinawa in case of emergency.

Author and pundit

Kissinger authored many books, including the world-renowned “Diplomacy,” depicting the history of international politics centering on Europe and the United States since the 17th century.

From 1992 to 2009, his writing appeared in the “Insights into the World” column of The Yomiuri Shimbun.

“Diplomacy is not an academic seminar; it is about an accommodation of real national interests in a manner that serves the larger interests of the parties and, hopefully, of the international order,” Kissinger said in one such column.