Japan’s muted pro-bomb voices become louder as nation debates phasing out nuclear power(Link)
TOKYO — A contentious debate over nuclear power in Japan is 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 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.
The two issues are intertwined because nuclear plants can develop the technology and produce the fuel needed for weaponry, as highlighted by concerns that Iran is advancing a nuclear power program to mask bomb development...
Part of "interesting" is, sadly, sarcasm. The writing is often higgledy-piggledy, like the last paragraph quoted above. Until nuclear power plants grow arms and eyes, I would find it hard for any of them could develop any technology. Nuclear weaponry does not need fuel. And, as the Iranian nuclear fuel technology programs...oh forget, the paragraph is a lost cause.
Later in the article is the howler: "Japan has 45 tons of separated plutonium, enough for several Nagasaki-type bombs." As a commenter to the article has noted, 45 tons of separated plutonium can be converted in a bit more than "several" Nagasaki-type bombs.
As for the presumption behind the article, that defense and security commentators have heretofore been quiet about drawing a direct line between the operation of nuclear power plants and a nuclear deterrent, this is simply not true. Indeed, the article itself points out that an "outspoken" Ishihara Shintaro and Abe Shinzo have been asking for Japan to make more vigorous use of its virtual deterrent (Note to self: do not include in any argument evidence that contradicts the thesis).
The article concludes with this weird quote:
"If people keep saying (nuclear energy) is for having nuclear weapons capability, that is not good,” Suzuki said. “It's not wise. Technically it may be true [my emphasis - MTC], but it sends a very bad message to the international community."When something is technically true, saying the opposite is technically false. Technically.
The end quote indicates the story that Kageyama has missed: that talking about a civilian nuclear power program as a virtual nuclear deterrent is just nuts.
In isolation, the position sounds rational: Japan is surrounded by nuclear weapons states; Japan needs a backstop should the U.S. withdraw its nuclear umbrella; North Korean threatens Japan so Japan should be able to pose an equal and opposite threat to North Korea; the international non-proliferation system, with its nuclear and non-nuclear states, is not only unequal, it has outliers and rogues like Israel, India and Pakistan who remain solidly encased in the international community.
However, the position cannot be put forward in isolation. When one tries to map out step-by-step scenarios where the U.S. abandons Japan, or where Japan unilaterally declares itself a nuclear weapons state, or where Japan pulls a South Africa/Israel assembled-in-secret trick -- and then one takes the further step of imagining how regional actors and the international community would react, one realizes one has fallen off the edge of the world.
To put in another way, Herman Kahn may have asked you to think the unthinkable, and you can flatter yourself thinking yourself up to that task. However, Aesop's much older Fables should remind us all that while, yes, having a bell on the cat would be nice...