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[EDITORIALS]No good in a nuclear Japan

Sept 06,2006
Yasuhiro Nakasone, the former Japanese prime minister, said Japan is currently dependent on U.S. nuclear weapons and that the country needs to look into making nuclear weapons in case of a possible upheaval in the international situation, such as a rupture of the U.S.-Japan security treaty.
Mr. Nakasone is the chairman of a subcommittee of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s constitution drafting committee.
Shinzo Abe, who is likely to be elected chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party in this month’s election and take office next month, also plans to amend the Constitution so as to facilitate Japan’s transition into a major military power.
It is noteworthy that an unofficial spokesman of Japan’s conservative politicians publicly mentioned “the need for nuclear armament,” which has been taboo in the country.
Of course, there are many obstacles to Japan building a nuclear weapon. One of these is the strong domestic opposition. For example, an official at the Japanese Embassy here said, “For Japanese people, who were the victims of nuclear weapons, it is impossible to even imagine possessing nuclear weapons.”
What’s more, the United States has been scrutinizing “nuclear dominoes” in Northeast Asia so as not to lose its leadership. China, which possesses nuclear weapons, will not just sit and watch this.
But some factors might make it possible for Japan to have nuclear weapons. Above all would be a North Korean nuclear test. In addition, the United States might change its position if relations between the United States and China become shaky due to conflicts over Taiwan. The fundamental U.S. strategy for Northeast Asia is to maintain balance in the region through its alliance with Japan.
A discussion among Japanese politicians on having nuclear weapons would make the already unstable situation in Northeast Asia much worse. This is especially true because Japan has the money, technology and raw materials to make nuclear weapons. According to the data from its Ministry of National Defense, Japan possesses 15 to 70 tons of plutonium and the world’s third- strongest nuclear industrial infrastructure. Unlike North Korea, Japan would be able to develop nuclear weapons in months.
South Korea cannot accept Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons, to say nothing of the North’s. We should prepare for the worst case ― a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.


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