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Monday, October 16, 2006

Taboos Were Made To Be Broken

But that taboo of nuclear weapons has been shunned by the Japapnese. They are the only nation on the face of the planet to have been targeted by one, and for a very long time, the thought of having or using a nuclear weapon was a touchy subject in Japan. But on the heels of the North Koreans and their recent test, the WaPo reports that Japan is now talking about it a fact tyhat should have Kim Jong-Il and China worried.

Shoichi Nakagawa, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's policy research council, said he believed Japan would adhere to its policy of not arming itself with nuclear weapons but added that debate over whether to go nuclear was necessary.

"We need to find a way to prevent Japan from coming under attack," Nakagawa told a television program, referring to what Tokyo should do following North Korea's reported nuclear test.

"There is argument that nuclear weapons are one such option. I want to make clear that I am not the one saying this, and Japan will stick to its nonnuclear principles, but we need to have active discussions," he said.

Nakagawa also said the constitution does not prohibit the possession of nuclear arms, adding that having such weapons might reduce or remove the risk of being attacked.

Although some analysts have pointed out the possibility that Japan -- the only nation to suffer an atomic bomb attack -- would seek nuclear weapons in response to North Korea's announced test, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has flatly rejected the idea.

Japan has stuck to its self-imposed "three nonnuclear principles" that ban the possession, production and import of nuclear arms, and in the past, politicians who even questioned the ban have faced fierce criticism.

A former defense vice minister resigned in 1999 after suggesting in an interview that Japan should debate the acquisition of nuclear arms.

But faced with the threat of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, the nuclear taboo is easing among the public, and more lawmakers now challenge the ban without receiving the disapproval they would have in the past.

A nuclear Japan could very well reign in North Korea and keep it in check. Of course, if Japan opts to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan, and invoke an arms race, North Korea will easily be buried. Already isolated, they do not have the money to keep up with such a buildup. And we should not forget that in the middle of this debate is one that revolves around lifting the ban in their constitution of a military. They are well on their way down that road.

Arming itself with nuclear weapons will not just get the attention of Kim Jong-Il, but China, too. The last thing that China wants is rearmed Japan, and a nuclear armed Japapn would represent a significant shift of power in the region. As a technological and industrial powerhouse, Japan could outfit it's new military within a matter of a few months, and with assistance from the United States, their nuclear weapons program--if initiated--could be up and running with the same amount of time.

But the taint from World War II had to be broken. People had to look at what the region held for it, and right now it does not look good if they stay unarmed and unable to defend themselves. A nuclear Japan serves as a deterrent against North Korea's constant threats, and against Chinese expansionism. (Anyone who thinks that China has given up hopes of ever getting Taiwan, I suggest you rethink that idea. They want it, but they will not make such a move if Japapn gets nuclear weapons, or if they rebuild their navy, and challenge China for supremacy of the region's seas.)

The scars of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are long lived, and will serve as a reminder to Japan of the destructive forces they are contemplating harnessing. This debate will not be an easy one to conduct there, but it is one that's time has come. If Japan wants to be protected from North Korean and/or Chinese aggression, they have to have this debate. And I am sure that the world appreciates Abe's reservations, but even he will have to understand where this is coming from. It does not come from the idea that propelled Japan into World War II. It comes from wanting to make sure that they never suffer another Hiroshima or Nagasaki on a grander scale.

(Hat-Tip: Captain Ed @ Captain's Quarters)



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