[FOUNTAIN]Japan’s nebulous nukes

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[FOUNTAIN]Japan’s nebulous nukes

“Non-production, non-possession and non-introduction of nuclear weapons.” Former Prime Minister Eisaku Sato of Japan declared these three non-nuclear principles, although Japan is the world’s only victim of atomic bombs. Mr. Sato won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 in recognition of his efforts for non-proliferation. Afterward, however, many questions have arisen over the three non-proliferation principles. Japan’s foreign minister documented a confidential report on its foreign policies in 1969 when Mr. Sato was in office. After six months of debate and discussion, six core government officials concluded that Japan would pursue a policy to not possess nuclear arms for the time being, but that it should always have the economic capacity and technology to produce nuclear devices.
The fact that Mr. Sato won the Nobel Peace Prize has become controversial. A book published in 2001 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee pointed out that Mr. Sato said one thing but did another. One of the authors wrote that selecting Mr. Sato as the Nobel Prize laureate was the Nobel Committee’s biggest mistake. Mr. Sato is also the great uncle of Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
Since 1975, U.S. Navy vessels have stopped calling at Kobe, Japan’s biggest port city, because Kobe authorities made it mandatory for all naval vessels entering its port to submit letters that guarantee that they have no nuclear weapons aboard. It appears that the three non-nuclear principles have been weakened. Ships carrying nuclear weapons, for example, often enter other ports in Japan, such as those in Yokosuka or Okinawa, and that is hardly confidential now.
Political scientists and journalists often say that the three non-nuclear principles have been broken, and only two and a half principles are left.
Shoichi Nakagawa, the chairman of the Policy Research Council of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, has repeatedly called for debate on nuclear armament. Prime Minister Abe says that there are no changes in the three non-nuclear principles, but he defended and supported Mr. Nakagawa.
Japan is reportedly able to produce nuclear arms within three to six months if it decides to do so. But the United States does not like the idea and the Japanese people also resist it. However, things can change if North Korea remains a nuclear power.
If the North moves forward with nuclear arms, it could produce a boomerang effect that brings bigger threats to the North, instead of providing a means of self-defense.

*The writer is Tokyo correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yeh Young-june

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