The U.S. government told Japan that it stored poison gas in Okinawa before the southern island prefecture’s 1972 reversion to Japanese sovereignty from U.S. control, as a way to counter North Korea’s purported possession of such gas, declassified Japanese diplomatic documents showed Thursday.

A secret cable dated Sept. 14, 1970 revealed that Yasuhiro Nakasone, then chief of the Defense Agency, met then U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird on the same day during Nakasone’s trip to the United States.

Laird was quoted by the cable as telling Nakasone that poison gas was brought into Okinawa in 1962 under then U.S. President John F. Kennedy based on the recommendation of Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense at the time.

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