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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #370: November 2, 2006

Why Japan Refuses to Go Nuclear

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Why Japan Refuses to Go Nuclear
(Peter Alford) The Australian,20867,20658132-2703,00.html


The article introduced is a very clear and objective analyses (or an introduction thereof) on the subject which is the very title of the article, explaining the reasons for Japan

There are three views introduced in the article. One is that the development of such arms places Japan at direct risk of a nuclear exchange with other countries, namely China, and - though not explicitly mentioned in the article - Russia. It would be politically as well as economically less expensive for Japan to avoid such conflict.

The second reason is that Japan's nuclear development will be against the U.S. policy agenda. The U.S. would simply not allow Japan to go ahead with nuclear armament if the current relationship of close allies were to be maintained. Here again, the overall cost including the loss of reputation being a good international citizen would be prohibitive.

The assessment on effectiveness toward North Korea in changing its policy is cited as the third reason. As the concept of deterrence is based on the assumption that your opponents are rational and pursue self-preservation, "it does not work against North Korea, an irrational or desperate opponent." Japan's own development, therefore, even if attempted, has no effect on North Korea's.

While the reasons stated in the article are all reasonable, there is more. It is something not fully explainable in terms of pros and cons, or cost-effectiveness, but something more basic built into Japan's social and political systems. It is perhaps the aftermath of the brutal defeat in the war, and to an extent an effect of itself a result of the war, the "pacifist" constitution, but most of the Japanese people firmly believe that it is peace - for over six decades now - that brought them the prosperity they enjoy now. It is not necessarily war per se, but military confrontations that by definition could lead to war the people would want to avoid if at all possible.

Indeed, this "pacifist" attitude in international fora has from time to time frustrated, leading to criticism, by the hawkish "extremes" - within the spectrum of the Japanese political scene but probably considered significantly moderate in other countries - but rarely upset the general public.

And the most fundamental reason, which to an extent supporting the reason above is the sheer resentment of nuclear arms by the people, brought up in the only country to experience the atrociousness of the weapon, which has been continuously recited in homes and schools ever since.

The article introduced provides a good logical explanation as to why Japan stays away from nuclear armaments - and will be doing so, but for the Japanese people it is too obvious. That is why a casual suggestion to begin studies on nuclear armament by LDP's policy research council chairman Shoichi Nakagawa was met with resentments from ordinary people - and that with neglect rather than vocal opposition. Thus Prime Minister Abe's statement following Mr Nakagawa's comment, after assessing the public sentiment, said, "There will be no debate within the Government on this (possibility of nuclear arms development)."

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