Japan Going Nuclear?
Monday, October 16, 2006 Posted: 07:16 PM JST
I was so busy reporting on North Korea's alleged nuclear test last week, I didn't get a chance to post anything on my blog. Not that it was necessary. Everybody and his grandmother wrote about the test.
Naturally, the discussion is now shifting to the consequences of last week's events. With the biggest question in the minds of many, will Japan go nuclear?
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Policy Research Council Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa said yesterday that, "To prevent an attack, several politicians are discussing whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons." He made his comments during a talk program on TV Asahi. According to the top LDP politician Japan's war-renouncing Constitution doesn't ban Japan from possessing nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately made an announcement that Japan "would abide by its non-nuclear principles even if North Korea goes so far as to declare that it possesses nuclear weapons." Nakagawa was severely criticized over his comments by several top politicians.
"There is no such discussion now," said Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma, "Japan's best option is to remain under the nuclear umbrella of the United States and maintain its security treaty with the U.S." Former LDP secretary general Koichi Kato expressed his fear that comments like Nakagawa's, would make Japan "misunderstood around the world."
Technologically, it certainly wouldn't be very difficult for Japan to create nuclear weapons. The country has lots of experience with nuclear technology because it possesses some fifty nuclear power stations --"although this is quite different from creating a bomb"--, it has a sufficient supply of smart scientists and the US would probably not object too much.
But I don't see it happening. Japan is the only nation to have suffered nuclear attacks and is very much aware of how terrible these weapons are. More than any other country. The Japanese in general strongly believe that nuclear weapons are absolutely immoral. Aside from a coup or a North Korean nuclear attack on Japan, it would be impossible to get the nation to accept such weapons.
Strategically, it would be a dumb move. Japan sees China as a competitor in the emerging Asian power struggles. The country is already seen as a threat by some in Japan. China would certainly increase its nuclear capabilities if Japan made this move. Other Asian countries would soon follow, starting a new nuclear arms race. That is the last thing Japan would want to happen.
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