Monday, April 28
Without the UN safety net, even Japan may go nuclear
Dan Plesch, The Guardian, April 28, 2003
The crisis with North Korea may force the Japanese to build the bomb
After North Korea, Japan may be next to build the bomb. This possibility is an additional reason for Russia and China - and, indeed, you and me - to be worried about the knock-on effects of the Korean nuclear crisis.
The notion of a Japanese bomb seems extraordinary because people think of Japan as a nation that has been anti-nuclear since Hiroshima. Japan is a world leader in supporting the UN and it is also at the forefront of UN disarmament efforts, especially to control the spread of rifles and handguns in the developing world. But there has been a long-standing debate in Japan about whether to build the bomb, and today domestic and international pressures are edging Japan towards the nuclear option.
Pressures to take a stronger military stance have already resulted in Japan having the world's fourth largest defence spending and a larger navy than Britain's. In 2002, the issue of Japanese nuclear weapons was put on the public agenda by government officials. Last June, Yasuo Fukuda, the chief cabinet secretary, confided to Japanese reporters that "depending on the world situation, circumstances and public opinion could require Japan to possess nuclear weapons". Shinzo Abe, the deputy cabinet secretary, said later that it would be acceptable for Japan to develop small, strategic nuclear weapons. Later, officials backtracked, leaving speculation that they had committed a deliberate diplomatic faux pas designed to air the issue. [...]