United States and Japanese officials have agreed to allow the Navy to station a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japan for the first time, the Navy said yesterday.
Although U.S. troops have been based in Japan since World War II's end, the Japanese public has long been wary of a U.S. nuclear presence because of concerns about possible radiation leaks. The decision comes 60 years after the United States brought the war to an end by dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"The security environment in the Western Pacific region increasingly requires that the U.S. Navy station the most capable ships forward," a Navy statement said. The carrier's deployment, it added, will "fulfill the U.S. government's commitment to the defense of Japan, and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East."
Nuclear-powered warships have visited Japanese ports more than 1,200 times since 1964. The Navy said the United States has provided firm commitments to Japan's government on the safe use of Japanese ports by the nuclear-powered warships, and it pledged to observe strictly all safety precautions.
This is the second deal to come to light this week between the two governments, in advance of high-level meetings today and tomorrow at the Pentagon between officials of the U.S. Defense and State departments and Japanese military and foreign ministers. On Wednesday, U.S. officials struck a deal with Japan to build a heliport at an American base in Okinawa.
The nuclear-powered carrier would replace the USS Kitty Hawk, a diesel-powered carrier based in Yokosuka, Japan.