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Japan Concluded Nukes Would Not Pay Off

Posted February. 20, 2003 23:13,   


The Japanese Defense Agency examined in depth the possibility of arming Japan with nuclear weapons right after the North Korean nuclear crisis in 1995, and concluded in a report that the nuclear armament would not bring any benefits, reported Asahi Shimbun yesterday.

The report was undertaken upon the direction of then Japanese Prime Ministry Tomiichi Murayama. Upon the order, civilian military experts and top brass of the Defense Agency reportedly prepared it. This is the first time, however, the full content of the report became known to the general public.

The Japanese government has enforced the conclusion of the report that developing nuclear weapons is not in the nation`s best interests, reported the newspaper. It is still being enforced by the current Koizumi`s cabinet.

The following are the excerpts from the report:

▽ Return for nuclear weapons capability = Japan would effectively destroy the basis for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; the reliability of the U.S. nuclear umbrella would be undermined and Japan would be viewed as distrustful of its military alliance with the United States; neighbors would fear that Japan was taking a more independent defense policy stance. The report also stated that Japan`s narrow land mass and concentrated population made the political and economic costs of setting up the infrastructure to enable development of nuclear weapons exorbitant. The United States and Europe would not allow the balance of power in Asia to be tipped over since instability in Asia, as one of the important markets in the world, would pose serious problems to them.

▽ Choice of Japan = The report said that development of nuclear weapons would have several drawbacks. Development of nuclear weapons would not help build up trust with neighbors. The report concluded that, as long as Japan supported nonproliferation, relying on the American nuclear deterrent was the best option.

▽ North Korea = North Korea`s nuclear potential was an important issue to the United States, which has benefited most under the Nonproliferation Treaty. The North-US dialog is a political issue the United Sates should not fail to handle. Thus, the United States would not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear capability. While North Korea`s nuclear potential was an important national security issue, that issue would not serve as a condition for discussing the possibility of Japan itself possessing nuclear weapons.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com