|The Peace Statue at Nagasaki Peace Park|
Nuclear policy minister Goshi Hosono said, “The safeguards are in place to prevent nuclear proliferation. The word 'security' precisely means the prevention of nuclear proliferation.”1
Despite Hosono’s explanation, the amendment provoked security concerns in neighboring countries, especially South Korea, and these countries urge Japan to delete or revise the words in question. The Chosun Ilbo, one of the major newspapers in South Korea, published the article concerning vulnerability of Korea after Japan’s nuclear armament.
“Unless South Korea gains a full understanding of the security structure in Northeast Asia and take stern measures,” the article warns, “it will once again end up sandwiched between two terrifying threats, this time one nuclear-armed country in the North and another in the East.”2
Scholars argue that Japan’s nuclear ambition is due to three main security concerns: 1) increasing threat from China, 2) North Korea’s continuing nuclear weapon programs, and 3) declining the US ability to control global and regional issues.3 Furthermore, the continuing territorial dispute over the Northern islands with Russia would also contribute to increasing popularity of nuclear weapons.
Is Japan actually going to acquire nuclear weapons?
Japan is the only country that experienced nuclear weapon attacks. In light of the tragedy, Japan created the Three Non-Nuclear Principles of “not possessing, not producing, and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons.” In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Peace Memorial Ceremony is held every year on the day of the atomic bombings, broadcast on TV for all regions in Japan, in order to remember the horror of nuclear weapons and pray for hibakusha, victims of nuclear weapons, and the word peace without nuclear weapons.
As one of the Japanese, I strongly believe that japan's nuclear armament is unlikely because majority of Japanese people have strong feeling against nuclear weapons. That is why Japan has never acquired the bomb despite its security concerns and capability to do so. Thus, despite such political will to pursue nuclear armament, people in Japan will never accept the government to pursue nuclear weapons.
In order to reflect the people’s will, prevent nuclear proliferation in the region, as well as maintain the international status as a leading state for the world free of nuclear weapons, the Japanese government should reconsider the amendment and include a clear statement that rejects such intention to acquire nuclear weapons.
1 ”'National security' amendment to nuclear law raises fears of military use,” The Asahi Shimbun, June 21, 2012
2 “S.Korea Could End Up Sandwiched Among Nuclear Powers,” The Chosun Ilibo, June 29, 2012.
3“Japan’s (Un)clear Nulcear Ambition,” IDSC, July 11, 2012.