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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.

Keywords: opinion_item

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4 comments so far post your own

1 | At 11:21am on Oct 17 2006, Kjeld Duits wrote:
Straight Talk About Japan’s Nuclear Option
By Brad Glosserman, executive director at the Pacific Forum CSIS
2 | At 11:31am on Oct 17 2006, Kjeld wrote:
Nakagawa backtracks on comments that Japan should consider getting nukes

Shoichi Nakagawa, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) policy research council, said on Monday that he was opposed to possessing nuclear weapons and wants Japan to abide by its non-nuclear principles.

Nakagawa made the anti-nuclear remarks after he told a TV program on Sunday that Japan should consider possessing such weapons, causing a stir in domestic political circles.

Nakagawa's controversial comments on Sunday came after North Korea claimed it had conducted a nuclear test.

"We have to think about how to counter (countries such as North Korea) without having nuclear weapons," Nakagawa said on Monday. "I don't think it's contradictory for us to discuss the issue and abide by our non-nuclear principles." (Mainichi)

3 | At 11:37am on Oct 17 2006, Kjeld Duits wrote:
Abe affirms that Japan will still shun nuclear weapons

Kato hits Nakagawa's nuclear suggestion

The Japan Times
4 | At 11:55pm on Oct 17 2006, Donnica Loppe wrote:
I hope one day Japan will go nuclear and be next to USA and Russia as one of the Big Powers and have a heart of a lamb to help other countries that are not powerful as USA and Russia and Japan I believe one day keep it to yourself that one day Japan and The United States will let the pass go and leave for peace forevermore.
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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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