More Talk of Japanese Nuclear WeaponsPosted: December 21, 2012
This is just a brief post, following up on a longer post I wrote about Japan’s nuclear program a few months ago. I wanted to observe that as a result of the recent elections in Japan, there is a new ruling coalition in the Japanese parliament. Noting the decided shift toward the right that this new parliament represents, this article from the Daily Telegraph makes the following observation:
The LDP’s ally, the Buddhist-backed New Komeito Party, will contribute another 31 seats to the total, giving Mr Abe a “supermajority” and the power to overrule parliament’s upper house.
Even more indicative of the rise of the right was the 54 seats that the Japan Restoration Party claimed.
Only founded in November, the party is led by unrepentant nationalist Shintaro Ishihara, the former governor of Tokyo, who has said he intends to restore the nation’s dented pride.
He has already suggested there is a need for Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons, expand the military and revise the pacifist constitution.
You can read more about Mr. Ishihara’s views on a range of issues, including nuclear weapons, here. This guy is the head of a party that controls 54 seats in Japan’s 480 seat lower house, and that is a part of the ruling coalition? Yikes.
This development reminded me of the comments made by Shingeru Ishiba, former Japanese Minister of Defense and now member of parliament and Secretary General of Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, about Japan’s interest in keeping its civilian nuclear program healthy so that Japan could use the capabilities afforded by its civilian program, to develop a nuclear weapon if it ever needed to do so. As I noted in my previous post, these comments were reported in a Wall Street Journal article in October of 2011:
Many of Japan’s political and intellectual leaders remain committed to nuclear power even as Japanese public opinion has turned sharply against it. One argument in favor rarely gets a public airing: Japan needs to maintain its technical ability to make nuclear bombs. “I don’t think Japan needs to possess nuclear weapons, but it’s important to maintain our commercial reactors because it would allow us to produce a nuclear warhead in a short amount of time,” Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister, said in an interview in a recent edition of Sapio, a right-leaning twice-monthly magazine. ”It’s a tacit nuclear deterrent,” added Mr. Ishiba, an influential parliament member who made similar remarks on a prime time television news show in August while serving as policy chief of Japan’s main opposition party.
So here are two quite influential members of Japan’s ruling governing coalition that have openly supported Japan’s nuclear program as being at least a potential source for development of nuclear weapons. And in Ishihara’s case, he appears to take the poitn further to argue that Japan should weaponize now.
IS EVERYBODY OK WITH THIS? Hey, IAEA, where are you on this one? If you really do think that you have the mandate to investigate and assess possible military dimensions of NNWS safeguarded nuclear programs, then shouldnt you be all over this case – a country with a stockpile of separated plutonium, all necessary technology to build a nuclear weapon, and influential government officials openly supporting nuclear weaponization?