Japan at crossroads as stage set for dramatic rethink of defense policy

Mr. James Schoff with the Japan Times

Japan at crossroads as stage set for dramatic rethink of defense policy

-The Japan Times-

When former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe encouraged a discussion on what amounted to stationing U.S. nuclear bombs on the territory of the sole nation to be attacked with them, it wasn’t clear what kind of reaction he expected — or if he had ulterior motives.

Japanese, with images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seared into their minds, have long had what observers call a “nuclear allergy.” Even the mere discussion of allowing nuclear weapons into Japanese territory has proven toxic for politicians.

Although a handful of lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who are close to Abe quickly lined up to endorse his idea of discarding these taboos and examining a NATO-style nuclear-sharing deal with the United States, the concept quickly lost steam.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who represents a district in Hiroshima in parliament, called the suggestion an “unacceptable” violation of the country’s three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory. This, combined with the public’s nuclear allergy and a looming summer election, eroded momentum for any concerted discussions on nuclear weapon sharing.

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