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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #83: November 19, 2002

With disarmament off the agenda, will Japan go nuclear next?

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"With disarmament off the agenda, will Japan go nuclear next?",11581,841965,00.html
by Dan Plesch, Guardian Unlimited


It was in 1945 when U.S. fabricated the first nuclear bombs, and tested it by dropping them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing some three hundred thousand civilians. It was a very effective propaganda as well, as U.S.S.R., the fierce opponent during the Cold War, was kept quiet for a while after WWII, at least until they succeeded in developing their own weapon in 1949. The Western allies, in order to keep ahead in the armament race, were assisted, though somewhat reluctantly, by U.S. in developing their nuclear bombs. U.K. succeeded in 1952, and with a lesser support from U.S. and France joined the team in 1960. In the communist bloc at the time, China succeeded it in 1964.

By that time, some began to realize the armament race was a futile endeavor in various respects, and began to seek ways to remedy the situation. Eventually, after lengthy and tedious negotiations, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed in 1968, and brought into force in 1970.

The peculiar and deceptive nature of the treaty was pointed out from the outset. As the name implies, the treaty recognizes two types of nations, those who have them and those who don't. The haves are not to export the weapons or the technology to make them, and the have-nots are not allowed to develop the technology on their own. In effect, the treaty authorizes some countries to possess nuclear weapons, while others would be condemned if they strive for it. What, then, makes some countries legitimate illegal for others, other than the fact that some had already declared possessing the bombs at a certain timing in history? It is difficult to persuade a country endeavoring to seek safety of their people by enhancing its defense capabilities through measures, unlike chemical or biological weapons that are banned universally, such as nuclear bombs, which is allowed internationally for certain countries.

The writer of the article is a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense Studies, one of the most respected institutions of its kind, established in U.K. The article thoroughly covers the state of nuclear armament affairs in the present world. It points to this deceptive nature of the treaty as well, calling it "double standard" by U.S. and its allies. A question is raised as to why India or Pakistan is not accused for their nuclear arms development, while an attack against Iraq is being prepared for that cause, and North Korea is incriminated for it.

In the context of North Korea owning nuclear bombs, the writer suggests it is perceivable for Japan to develop the weapon on their own, as it already has sufficient technology to do so.

While this view may seem reasonable from the perspective of global security, it could be a very disturbing analysis for many Japanese. The experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, although the social memory is fading, is a trauma still apparent among Japanese people. The report of North Korea possessing nuclear bombs has annoyed many people, obviously, but there is not even a casual suggestion of Japan to counter North Korea in terms of nuclear armament.

It is evident that Japanese people consider it one of the fundamental principles of the country not to develop or carry nuclear weapons.

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