Japanese Nuclear Armament
An American expert on Japan said that Japan could pursue nukes using North Korea and China as a pretext.
“Most of the Japanese people are still against having nuclear weapons. However, due to recent developments in the domestic and international arena, they might rethink the issue,” said Richard J. Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science, director of the Center for International Studies at MIT, and Japan expert at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), in an October 22 report.
The professor cited North Korea and China as Japan’s external security threats that might stoke the atmosphere of crisis in Japan and therefore the country’s nuke development. He commented, “Japan’s biggest concern is North Korea. If the North Korean regime collapses or is attacked by outside forces, it is possible that Pyongyang will launch a nuclear attack on Tokyo with the nothing-to-lose mentality. On top of that, it’s doubtful whether the North can control its own nuclear arsenal.”
The MIT professor also said that if China, which has dramatically increased its defense budget in recent years, accelerates the development of nuclear weapons, the US nuclear umbrella will shrink. He said that in that case, Japan will reconsider nuclear armament.
However, he pointed out that owing to the concentration of its population in capital cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, the country will suffer tremendously if attacked. Therefore, Japan’s efficiency of retaliation using nukes appears to be low. Furthermore, diplomatic costs for nuke development will be high.
The expert at NBR added that if Tokyo pursues nuclear arms, S. Korea will follow suit. As a result, the nuclear arms race may begin in the region, and the US-Japan alliance can be damaged as well.
He concluded by saying, “Given the uncertainty of the security environment in Northeast Asia, including an unpredictable N. Korea, Tokyo can change its course some day. Currently, there are few Japanese or American people who openly support Japan’s development of nuclear capabilities, but we should consider the possibility of its nuke development.”