Monday, August 30, 2010

We Would Like To Caveat That

Over at sigma1, Corey Wallace has produced a review of the final version of report of the Council for National Security and Defense Buildup in the New Era (Arata na jidai no anzen hosho to boeiryoku ni kan suru kondankai), the non-partisan, non-bureaucratic advisory commission charged with drawing up an outline for the eventual the National Defense Policy Guidelines (for background see "Japan's National Defense Program Guidelines" and "Preparing for the NDPG", both courtesy of Twisting Flowers). The commissioners delivered their final version of the report to the Prime Minister last Friday (Photo).

Wallace quotes from the English summary, which lays out the basic points in the report. Unfortunately, the summary fails to give a sense of the push and pull that went into the preparation of the report. In particular, the summary fails to mention a big step outward taken in the original draft that subsequently has been largely withdrawn.

The topic in question is Japan's Three Non-Nuclear Principles - i.e. that Japan will not possess, will not produce and will not allow the transit of nuclear weapons over its territory or through its territorial waters (motazu, tsukurazu, mochikomasasezu). Revisions of principles one and two were not on the agenda. However, number three -- non-introduction -- was on the agenda, as a part of Japan's ability to defend itself as a non-nuclear nation surrounded on three sides by nuclear powers (China, Russia and the DPRK, for those keeping score). It seemed odd to the authors of the report that Japan purposefully tie the hands of its ally, the United States, in responding to a threat posed to Japan's security by nuclear weapons, with a principle that American weapons platforms bearing nuclear weapons cannot even transit Japan's territories and territorial waters. It seemed to the commission a daft restriction to place upon an ally, so they wrote:

"For the security of Japan, what is most important is that for those countries possessing nuclear weapons 'that they be forced to not use them.' So for us to unilaterally tie the hands of the United States and the United States only beforehand based upon a principle, is definitely unwise."
As the author of Twisting Flowers surmised back in July, the opening of of a back door for a weakening of the "will not accept the introduction" principle did not survive intact a review by the powers that be inside the Democratic Party of Japan. The sentence above still remains--but it is prefaced now by a declaration:

"Emphasizing, in terms of the three non-nuclear principles of 'Japan will not possess, will not produce and will not allow the transit,' there is no situation compelling a revision for purpose of providing for the security of Japan at this time. However, at the heart of the matter...
So the Three Non-nuclear Principles remain inviolate in the eternal present...but at some future date indescribable except as being the time when applying the Third Principle will seriously damage the U.S. military's ability to protect Japan, the Third Principle will be extremely foolish to obey.

So that's that.

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