Does Japan want nuclear weapons?
This is an update to a previous post regarding the question of whether Japan has the intention to maintain the capacity to quickly construct and deploy nuclear weapons.
As reported recently in an editorial of The Mainichi, The Japanese Diet has passed a significant amendment to laws related to national security and nuclear policy, without arousing public awareness or controversy. The changes to the Atomic Energy Basic Law require that Japan's nuclear energy “should contribute to national security.” Judging by how little public reaction there has been to this change, it's doubtful that the general public, or even the legislators who dealt with the issue, really understood what this ominous phrase means.
For those who stop to think on it, the implication is obvious. This amendment turns Japanese policy into the most shameful hypocrisy. While pursuing nuclear weapons capability, Japanese leaders also love to spout fine words about maintaining its "three non-nuclear principles" that state that Japan Japan shall neither possess nor manufacture nuclear weapons, nor shall it permit their introduction into Japanese territory. This standard line has been repeated as recently as August 6, 2005 when Prime Minister Koizumi said these words in Hiroshima:
As the only nation in human history to be bombed with atomic weapons, Japan will continue to comply with its Peace Constitution and firmly maintain the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, with its strong commitment not to repeat the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan will lead the international community to promote international efforts for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation and devote itself to abolish nuclear weapons.
According to the Mainichi editorial, “The Diet spent only four days deliberating the bill after it was submitted, and failed to thoroughly discuss whether Japan's atomic energy policy should contribute to the country's national security.”
The phrase, "contribute to Japan's national security," was also added to the Aerospace Basic Act of 2008. The use of this phrase in the context of nuclear policy and missile and rocket technology can be clearly understood as a reference to maintaining nuclear weapons capability. These changes to existing laws conform with a policy of not necessarily possessing nuclear weapons, but certainly with one of maintaining the ability to construct and deploy nuclear weapons on short notice. And Japan certainly has the plutonium and the technological capacity to do so.