Japan’s pro-nuclear weapon voices grow louder amid debate

TOKYO — A contentious debate over nuclear power in Japan is also bringing another question out of the shadows: Should Japan keep open the possibility of making nuclear weapons—even if only as an option?

It may seem surprising in the only country ever devastated by atomic bombs, particularly as it marks the 67th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima on Aug 6 and Nagasaki three days later. The Japanese government officially renounces nuclear weapons, and the vast majority of citizens oppose them.

But as Japan weighs whether to phase out nuclear power, some conservatives, including some influential politicians and thinkers, are becoming more vocal about their belief that Japan should have at least the ability to make nuclear weapons.

“Having nuclear plants shows to other nations that Japan can make nuclear weapons,” former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, now an opposition lawmaker, told The Associated Press.

Ishiba stressed that Japan isn’t about to make nuclear weapons. But, he said, with nearby North Korea suspected of working on them, Japan needs to assert itself and say it can also make them—but is choosing not to.

Most proponents don’t say, at least not publicly, that Japan should have nuclear weapons. Rather, they argue that just the ability to make them acts as a deterrent and gives Japan more diplomatic clout.

The issue dates back to the 1960s. Historical documents released in the past two years show that the idea of a nuclear-armed Japan was long talked about behind-the-scenes, despite repeated denials by the government.

Full article: Japan’s pro-nuclear weapon voices grow louder amid debate (Japan Today)