【PART 2】 The Mystery of Fukushima: Why Japan Cannot Stop Nuclear Power Plants?


24】 “Structure” of the JapanU.S. Atomic Agreement


Later, I discovered an agreement between Japan and the U.S. called the Japan-U.S. Atomic Agreement. It has the same legal structure as the SOFA. In other words, Japan alone cannot decide on the NPP issue, as is the case with the U.S. bases issue, no matter how much Japanese politicians proclaim their intention of “decommissioning,” “abandoning nuclear power” or “moving beyond nuclear energy.” A specialist who analyzed policy articles in detail concluded that the only thing Japan can decide alone without any approval from the U.S. is electricity charges.

Let me explain what I mean by the same legal structure. For example, in the Japan-U.S. SOFA, the governments of Japan and the U.S., at the request of the Japanese Government, shall review such arrangements and “may agree” that bases shall be returned.

The procedure seems legitimate at first sight, but “may” in legal terms means “does not need to.” Therefore this article means “bases will never be returned to Japan without the U.S. government’s approval, regardless of what serious problems they cause.”

Meanwhile, many articles of the Japan-U.S. Atomic Agreement are written with the phrase, “the parties shall …” “Shall” in legal terms means “is obliged to.” Consider the text in italics in the next article.

Article 12-4:

Before either party takes steps to cease cooperation under this Agreement, to terminate this Agreement, or to require such return [of nuclear materials, etc.], the parties “shall consult” for the purpose of taking corrective steps and “shall carefully consider” the economic effects of such actions, taking into account the need to make such other appropriate arrangements as may be required.

What this agreement indicates is that Japan’s intention alone can never terminate it; it is impossible without U.S. approval. Furthermore, I noticed when I reread the article that this agreement has an outrageous article as below.

Article 16-3:

Notwithstanding the suspension or termination of this Agreement or any cooperation here under for any reason, Article 1, paragraph 4 of Article 2 and Articles 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 14 shall continue in effect to the extent applicable.

There is nothing one can do but laugh. “Article 1, paragraph 4 of Article 2 and Articles 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 14″ covers almost all the articles! Almost every part of this important agreement “shall continue in effect” after termination of the agreement. Are there any such agreements between nations on earth? Of course, other than these official articles, there are sure to be other secret agreements as well, as we found from studies on the SOFA over the decades.

The problem is, Japan has no weapon — no constitutional bargaining power — having any effect on the power dynamics of such agreements. As I’ve explained, within the current legal structure the Constitution doesn’t function.

Therefore, even if Japanese politicians proclaim promises of “decommissioning” or “abandoning nuclear power,” or by any chance become prime minister, they cannot decide anything. If a prime minister tries to force change, due to the legal structure he will follow in the same footsteps of Mr. Hatoyama.