This article was last updated on May 18, 2022
Back in early March 2022, a rather profound statement by one of Japan’s former Prime Ministers about nuclear sharing has set the stage for a major and threatening change for China in the Far East.
Let’s examine this potential change and how the major power in the region has recently responded.
Here is the article from Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, dated February 28, 2022:
Here are some key quotes from Abe’s appearance on Fuji Television Network which is discussed in the article with my bolds:
“Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe floated the idea of Japan “sharing” in the possession of nuclear weapons, as is practiced by some NATO members, a possibility flatly rejected by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Abe expressed his belief on a TV program aired by Fuji Television Network Inc. on Feb. 27.
The former prime minister was discussing NATO’s nuclear deterrence concept with which multiple countries share nuclear capabilities, when debating the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Among NATO members, the United States has deployed nuclear weapons in certain countries in Europe for when they might need them.
“Although Japan is a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and has adopted the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, we should not regard a discussion on how the world’s security is maintained as taboo,” Abe said….
Abe said in the TV program, “As Shoichi Nakagawa was lambasted for saying we should discuss (possessing nuclear weapons), people avoid debating it. However, I believe that we should discuss the issue.”
Abe also said people are talking about how Ukraine’s fate might have been different if the country had not given up its nuclear weapons in the 1990s.
Although he said that it is important to make progress toward achieving the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons, Abe also stressed, “We should discuss various options, as far as how defending this country (Japan) and its people is concerned.”…
Kishida (Japan’s current Prime Minister) said nuclear sharing would mean that a country makes use of the U.S. nuclear deterrence capabilities for its own defense.
That would allow the United States to deploy its nuclear weapons in the country even in peacetime and maintain an arrangement in which the country can load nuclear weapons onto its own fighter jets in the event of emergencies.“
The nuclear sharing/deterrence concept is used by NATO to allow member nations without nuclear weapons to share nuclear weapons owned by the United States. Beyond the alliances three nuclear states (the United States, United Kingdom and France), five other nations participate in the nuclear sharing program; Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. Seven other nations participate in the Support of Nuclear Operations With Conventional Air Tactics (SNOWCAT) which provide assistance in nuclear missions using conventional air support.
These nations include the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland and Romania. While the United States and NATO do not disclose exact figures for its nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, it is estimated that there are 100 U.S.-owned weapons located at six bases; Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel Air Base in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi Air Bases in Italy, Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey.
Currently, Japan, the only nation in the world that has been the “beneficiary” of nuclear weapons use, has a Three Non-Nuclear Principles philosophy to nuclear weapons which was implemented in 1967 as revealed in the following quote from then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato:
“My responsibility is to achieve and maintain safety in Japan under the Three Non-Nuclear Principles of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons, in line with Japan’s Peace Constitution.“
Obviously, the presence of nuclear weapons in Japan would have a profound impact on the balance of power in the Far East. China has taken notice of this development and, given the instability of the region over Taiwan, the world should be paying attention. A recent opinion piece in China Daily, a daily newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party, provides insight into China’s interpretation of Shinzo Abe’s suggestion:
Here are some quotes (with my bolds) from the opinion piece, keeping in mind that atrocities that imperialist Japan inflicted on China prior to and during the Second World War (between 1937 to 1945 aka the Second Sino-Japanese war):
“Some former Japanese politicians and senior officials of the Liberal Democratic Party have advocated “nuclear sharing”, claiming that the deployment of nuclear weapons by the United States in Japan should not be a taboo subject for discussion. The Japan Restoration Party, a right-wing opposition party, also submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to discuss nuclear sharing.
Although the Japanese government has said it still adheres to the three non-nuclear principles of “no possession, manufacture and import of nuclear weapons”, it has said that it is an issue for discussion. This attitude of the Japanese government undoubtedly shows its support for “nuclear sharing“.
So-called nuclear sharing is a Cold War nuclear deterrent arrangement between the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.
The Cold War is long over, and “nuclear sharing” should have been relegated to the trash can of history. However, the US and its NATO allies continue to maintain the practice, despite many arguing that the policy violates the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as these so-called shared nuclear forces are highly opaque, increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation and conflict….
The world cannot help but ask what does Japan want with nuclear weapons? The root cause is undoubtedly that Japanese militarism still lingers on. Some forces in Japan are still clinging to outdated security concepts. The international community must not condone Japan’s nuclear ambitions.
Japan should abandon the idea of nuclear weapons, earnestly fulfill its international obligations on nuclear non-proliferation, honor its commitment to the three non-nuclear principles and safeguard global and regional peace and security with a responsible attitude.“
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?
When considering China’s views on arming Japan, history must be our guide. China was invaded and occupied by the imperialist Japanese military between 1931 when Japan invaded and occupied Manchuria and 1945 when Japan surrendered to Allied Forces. Massive attrocities were committed (i.e. the Rape of Nanking which resulted in the deaths of at least 300,000 people in two months) and recent calculations by China show that at least 35 million military and non-military people were killed over the 14 year period. It is any wonder that China still distrusts Japan?
Should Japan’s leadership seriously consider tossing aside the Three Non-Nuclear Principles that it has upheld for over five decades all in the name of furthering Washington’s goals in the Far East, particularly when it comes to Taiwan, we can assure ourselves that China’s warning will be accompanied with actions that could ultimately lead to a nuclear war.
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