Friday, October 28, 2005
JAPAN yesterday agreed to let the US Navy for the first time base a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the country, despite a strong outcry and fears over nuclear leaks. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said he accepted the US plan to deploy a nuclear-powered carrier in Yokosuka, 50km south of Tokyo, in view of "the importance of a continued presence of the US Navy in and around Japan for the country's security and international peace". The US Navy announced that "one of its nine Nimitz-class aircraft carriers will replace USS Kitty Hawk as the forward-deployed carrier in the Western Pacific, and will arrive in Yokosuka, Japan in 2008". Yokosuka has since 1973 been the home port for US conventional carriers such as USS Midway or USS Kitty Hawk.
USS MIDWAY (CV-41)Yokosuka Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya has strongly protested the decision, and about 300,000 people have signed a petition opposing the plan. Governor Shigefumi Matsuzawa of Kanagawa Prefecture, which encompasses Yokosuka, said in Washington the decision was "extremely deplorable because it has ignored local wishes". "I will urge the Government to renegotiate with the US Government," he said. Japan Confederation of A and H-bomb Suffers Organisation secretary-general Terumi Tanaka said: "The deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at a Japanese port is the same as having nuclear weapons. "Everybody can understand what will happen if it were attacked from outside or being involved in a fatal accident." The US Navy said in a statement: "The security environment in the Western Pacific region increasingly requires that the US Navy station the most capable ships forward." It said that since 1964 US nuclear-powered warships had visited Japanese more than 1200 times without a single accident. The decision comes 60 years after the US brought World War II to an end by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Successive Japanese governments have maintained the "three non-nuclear principles" – the policy of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan.