OCTOBER 19-24, 1976
On 22 October, the Soviet Ambassador to Japan Dmitri Polyansky again agreed with Japanese Foreign Minister Kosaka on an early return of the MiG-25, but the one stumbling block remains Soviet insistence of preshipment inspection of the aircraft at Hyakuri AB. The Japanese have refused admission of Soviet officials to the base.
This delay is believed to have contributed to indefinite postponement of Japan-Soviet economic talks scheduled to be held for three days beginning 25 November.
OCTOBER 25, 1976
In spite of the above difficulties Koji Koyama, Chief of the Ibaraki Prefecture Police Guard Division stated that the National Police Agency has requested the Foreign Ministry to ship out the MiG-25 on October 31.
OCTOBER 26, 1976
According to US military sources, the Russian defector Lt. Belenko is described as an intelligence pilot with an almost photographic memory and the “same colorful style” as American fighter pilots. He is said to have a penchant for salty language and bravado in revealing that he had had an ambition to shoot down a SR-71 reconnaissance plane.
Belenko was apparently known to US intelligence before his defection. His name appeared in US intelligence files as holding dissident views while he was stationed in Eastern Europe before his most recent posting in Siberia, although it is unclear whether any contract was made.
Belenko is undergoing a round of debriefings and discussions with experts that will take him to various parts of the US. Some have been held at a Central Intelligence Agency “safe house” in the Virginian countryside about 80 km from Washington.
In Japan, the MiG-25 aircraft itself is lying disassembled in 13 crates awaiting its return to the Soviet Union.
OCTOBER 27, 1976
In further comments on the performance of the MiG-25, ASDF experts found that the engine emitted no exhaust smoke, unlike the ASDF phantoms. Only a heat haze was seen from the exhaust openings of the Soviet fighter.
Also, the fighter’s landing gear was found to be unusually large. For example, the wheel diameter of 120-cm is nearly twice that of Phantom fighters. The experts have learned that this is for landing on any level ground as well as concrete runways. The tire pressure of the landing wheels was found to be very low, just like a rubber ball, so that Soviet fighters could land and takeoff from plains in the continental Soviet Union.
The MiG-25 was built rather for defense than for office. The fighter has no inlet for fuel supply in flight, indicating that the flight range of the plane is limited. Moreover the fighter has no bays to hold bombs and although the MiG-25 has 4 pylons, they are not strong enough to carry strategic nuclear bombs or air-to-surface missiles. Rather they appear for air-to-air missiles.
On another subject, at a speech before the plenary session of October 25th of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee, Brezhnev started that the MiG-25 incident has seriously clouded ties between Japan and the Soviet Union. However, he also re-emphasized the importance of such ties and the desire to promote cooperation with Japan.
OCTOBER 28 – NOVEMBER 9, 1976
During this time span, little information has been presented on the MiG-25 while conclusion of negotiations on its return to the Soviet Union are awaited.
On 8 November, Vice Director General of the Defense Agency, MAEUYAMA Ko, addressed the Japan Press Club and commented on the MiG-25. He stated that the aircraft was originally designed to counter the US-70 high altitude bomber, which now has been dropped in favor of the B-1. The MiG-25, however, is still highly effective against the SR-71. The aircraft was found to embody the basic Russian aircraft designing philosophy that a military aircraft must be easy to maintain and reliable. Maruyama said the MiG-25 was a plane designed by scholars who tend to be conservative but produce reliable aircraft, as opposed to engineers who tend to be more progressive and introduced new ideas.
Japanese defense experts were impressed with the intricate combination of various components and materials in the MiG-25. Maruyama commented that in the Soviet Union, a weapon is not produced as a commercial product and therefore frills such as smooth exteriors and embellishments are not considered necessary.
Maruyama started that the information obtained by the MiG-25 does not make it necessary for Japan to modify its defense programs.
NOVEMBER 10, 1976
It was announced that an agreement concerning the technical transfer of the MiG-25 was reached between TOGO Takehiro, Chief of the 1st East Europe Division of the Foreign Ministry and Victor V. DENISOV, Counsellor of the Soviet Embassy in Japan.
The MiG-25 will be shipped from Hitachi Port to the Soviet Union aboard the TAIGONOS, a 4,673-ton Russian lumber freighter. About 20 Soviet military experts will inspect the plane at the port.
The plane will be transported from Hyakuri AB to Hitachi, a distance of about 70-km, by land in the predawn hours of 12 November. It is expected that the inspection will take about 3 days and the ship will leave the port on the night of 14 November or morning of the 15th.
The Japanese demand that the Soviet Union pay compensation for damage the plane inflected on airport facilities and for expenditures incurred in transporting the aircraft from Hyakuri AB to Hitachi Port was not resolved during the negotiations.
A check of the outward appearance of the plane will be made on the wharf and a detailed inspection will be carried out after the plane has been loaded on the ship. Japanese representatives will be present at both inspections. Also, transfer documents will be exchanged between the Defense Agency and the Soviet official who accepts the MiG-25.
Japan-USSR relations are expected to improve after a suitable cooling-off period. However, the Foreign Ministry believes that there is no need for Japan to take the initiative since the MiG-25 incident was not caused by Japan. It is expected that it will take until the end of the year for things to settle down. Consequently, regular meetings between the foreign ministries of the two countries scheduled for this winter are expected to be postponed until 1977.
NOVEMBER 11-12, 1976
On Thursday night, 11 November, the parts of the MiG-25, paced in 25 stainless steel containers, were put aboard three trailer trucks and five other large trucks by about 40 workers. The loading was carried out in rain beginning at 10:00 am.
JDA officials visited the Ibaraki Prefectural Government and other local government offices Thursday afternoon to seek their cooperation in the shipment of the plane from the air base to the port.
The TAIGONOS was scheduled to arrive at about 5:30 am on 12 November.
In the meantime, it was reported that Soviet fishing boats have started appearing in unusually large numbers off Hitachi Port since 10 November, forcing the smaller Japanese fishing boats to return to port. By 11 November, the number of Soviet fishing boats had increased to over 50 and they approached close to the three nautical mile territorial waters limit. However, the Maritime Safety Agency denies there is any connection with the MiG-25 problem and says that the Soviet fishing boats have just moved south from off Hokkaido following the schools of mackerel and mackerel pike.
On the other hand, the MSA has dispatched 5 patrol boats in connection with the shipping out of the MiG-25.
It was announced that 8 Soviet officials and 14 Japanese Foreign Ministry officials as well as 20 JDA officials will take part in the inspection.
NOVEMBER 13, 1976
On Friday morning, 12 November, the dismantled MiG-25 was loaded aboard the TAIGONOS. During the transport of the plane from Hyakuri AB to Hitachi via Route 6, all traffic was stopped and 1,940 policemen from Ibaraki Prefecture was mobilized to guard it along the way. The caravan began at 3:00 am and arrived at the port at 6:10 am. Delivery of the aircraft to the Soviet side was handled by Col INABA Yoshiro of the Air Staff Office. After a simple check at dockside, shipboard loading began at 8:00 am and was completed in 3 hours. Loading charges are to be born by the Soviet Union.
NOVEMBER 14-15, 1976
On the 14th, after a final check by Soviet alone, documents of transfer were signed and all return procedures for the MiG-15 was completed. Although the TAIGONOS is authorized to remain in port until noon of the 15th, the Soviets have informed Hitachi port authorities that it will depart around 8:30 am.
NOVEMBER 16, 1976
The “MiG-25 Incident” came to an end with the dismantled aircraft aboard the TAIGONOS which departed Hitachi Port for Vladivostok at 11:50 am on November 15. On the same day, YANAGIYA Kensuke, Director-General of the Public Information Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry issued a final statement of the matter, describing the Japanese Government’s handling of the incident as “justifiable.”
The following is a summary of the article which appeared in the 14 OCT 1976 issue of a weekly periodical entitled SHUKAN GENDAI. The article is highly critical of the Japanese handing of the MIG incident and attempts are made to substantiate opinions with statements from military critics, defense-related officials (mostly anonymous), etc.
The article protests US assistance in dismantling the MiG-25, describing it as the “greatest shame.” Claim is made that the Soviet Union made eleven protests to the Japanese Government during the month of September and the question is raised for whom and for what purpose was the aircraft taken apart and investigated, provoking Soviet anger. Emphasis is place on the repercussions Japan has suffered as a result, for example, the cool reception given to Foreign Minister Kosaka by Gromyko at the UN, the seizure of 6 fishing boats off Hokkaido, and the feared postponement of a scheduled economic meeting between the Soviet Union and Japan in November, all pointing to a quick-freeze of Soviet-Japanese relations.
The claim is made that the information obtained by JDA on the MiG-25 was limited to the body structure and that the inner parts of the aircraft such as the radar system were taken aboard the C-1 and transported to the US for analysis. As supporting evidence, reference is made to a NEWSWEEK article (Sep 26) which carried detailed information about the MiG-25 and also to the fact that Kosaka told Gromyko that it would take two or three weeks to return the aircraft. Citing an anonymous JDA official, the article points out that no matter how much investigation was carried out, the MiG-25 poses no threat to Japan because of its limited range, that the aircraft is aimed more at China and that it was essentially the US who was intent on probing the Soviet defense net. The claim is made that it was the US who had controlling authority over the dismantling and analyses at Hyakuri AB, citing the frank admittance by JDA that they did not have the expertise for such an operation. It is stated that because of the difference in level between US and Japanese technicians, the US side would not instruct the Japanese in any matters of which the Japanese did not have knowledge already. Also, it is claimed that the SDF had to made use of civilian assistance because the SDF air “orderers” and “users” and have no technicians. Criticism is also directed toward the coast of using the US Galaxy for transport.
Criticism again is directed toward the fact that although JDA claimed to have requested US assistance in inspection of the MiG-25, the original government intent was actually to immediately return the aircraft and that the decision to keep the aircraft for inspection was a result of intense pressure brought to bear by the US. It is stated that the subject of inspection was a matter of great controversy between the civilians and uniformed services within JDA itself which culminated in threats of resignations by ASDF officers.
The conclusion of the article is that Japan has obtained no benefit from the investigation of the MiG-25 and that in casting aside Japan’s political and economic interests for military interests, Japan’s own interests have been discarded for those of the U.S.
DECEMBER 29, 1976
The MiG-25 incident was ranked third among the top ten domestic news stories in Japan for 1976, following payoff scandal and the loss of a majority by the Liberal Democratic Party in the Lower House general election.
With a toy model of the MiG-25 soon to appear on the market, it seems that the incident will remain a topic of conversation for some time to come