Takichi Nishiyama Ruling near in '72 secret pact leak Thursday, March 22, 2007

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) A former Mainichi Shimbun journalist is awaiting a Tokyo District Court verdict next Tuesday that hopefully will clear his name, after he was convicted over his report about a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japan that U.S. documents have effectively confirmed. Takichi Nishiyama, 75, was arrested and charged in 1972 together with a female Foreign Ministry secretary for talking her into bringing out classified internal documents for his reports about the negotiation process behind Okinawa's reversion from U.S. occupation. Both were accused of violating the National Public Services Law. According to the reports, Japan shouldered $4 million in costs for the reversion under the secret agreement, which has been consistently denied by high-ranking Japanese government officials. Their arrests initially drew public ire because they were perceived as having infringed on the people's right to know, but the issue turned into a sex scandal because the indictment stated Nishiyama "secretly had an affair" with the secretary and urged her to bring him the documents. He was found not guilty at the Tokyo District Court, but the Tokyo High Court overturned the acquittal, convicted him and handed him a suspended prison term, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1978. The secretary meanwhile never appealed the initial guilty verdict. After leaving the major daily in 1974, Nishiyama remained silent for 30 years, but the release of U.S. government documents in 2000 and 2002 that supported his claim about the $ 4 million secret pact prompted him to sue the state for damages in April 2005, arguing his career was ruined by "an illegal indictment." The two documents indicate that Tokyo assumed the $ 4 million cost the U.S. was supposed to pay to restore Okinawa's land to its original state and that Japan asked the U.S. to flatly deny the existence of the pact to the press. Seeking 33 million yen in compensation and an apology, Nishiyama says in the suit, "It is a state crime to submit a false treaty text to the Diet for discussion and approval, and it is an abuse of power to indict a reporter who tried to inform the public of a state crime." The government has dismissed Nishiyama's arguments and is seeking to have the suit rejected. Remarks by a former senior Foreign Ministry official, who acknowledged the secret $ 4 million pact, may bolster Nishiyama's damages claim. Bunroku Yoshino, who negotiated with Washington on Okinawa's reversion as director general of the ministry's then American Bureau, admitted the existence of the secret pact in February last year, telling news media, "Japan paid a total of $ 320 million to the United States in costs for Okinawa's reversion, which included the $ 4 million" needed to restore land plots that U.S. forces had used into the original farmland. He also said that then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato made a political decision to shoulder the $ 4 million. After the remarks were reported, Nishimura's lawyer, Katsumi Fujimori, asked Yoshino to meet him, but the request was rejected. Nishiyama told the court the U.S. documents and Yoshino's remarks prove he is the victim of an injustice.