Does Japan really want nuclear weapons?
作者Rrichard A. BitzingerDoes Trump want a nuclear Japan?” readsthe headline on a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Thearticle, authored by noted academic Walter Russell Mead, arguesthat an “American retreat from the Pacific” – caused by avacillating Trump administration with a less-than-sterling securitycommitment to Asia – could lead Japan to conclude that “goingnuclear” might be its best recourse. And in good ol’-fashioneddomino fashion, South Korea and Taiwan might follow suit.
Mead argues that some in the administration of US PresidentDonald Trump might even welcome the idea of a nuclearized Asia. Andindeed, if the United States were to remove Japan from its securityguarantee – especially covering it under the US nuclear umbrella –Tokyo might seriously consider becoming a nuclear power.
Moreover, it is generally conceded that Japan has thetechnological capacity to build an atomic bomb in a relativelyshort time – months, perhaps, a few years at the most. The realquestion, however, is: Does Japan want to be a nuclear power?
Building the bomb is the easiest part
In the first place, Japan would likely find that becoming anuclear-weapons state is a lot harder than it or most othersthink.
It is not simply a matter of building an atomic bomb. Yes, ifJapan were to build a nuclear bomb and test it, it would haveresonance throughout Asia, and, indeed, the rest of the world. Butit would require much, much more for Tokyo to create a crediblenuclear deterrent.
In the first place, Japan would need to test and re-test itsnuclear capabilities. Yes, supercomputers can simulate some of thecharacteristics of a nuclear explosion, but ultimately Japan wouldprobably have to conduct several tests, over the course of severalyears, to create a reliable nuclear force.
But how would it deploy such a weapon? On aircraft? Japan hasno nuclear-capable aircraft, no bombers or specialized strikeaircraft. The country’s Air Self Defense Force does operate severalUS-designed fighter jets, especially as the F-15, which couldconceivably be adapted to carry nuclear weapons. But that wouldrequire US permission to open up the plane’s “black boxes” – itselectronics and sources codes – in order to nuclearize theseaircraft; it is hard to see that happening.
Japan could put its nuclear weapons on missiles. That wouldrequire miniaturizing a nuclear weapon to fit on a missile and thendeveloping the missile itself. Japan has a vibrant space-launchindustry, but they are the wrong kind of rockets for a nuclearforce. A specialized solid-fueled missile would have to be builtalmost from scratch.
Even then, where would Tokyo put these missiles, whether insilos (which would be vulnerable to earthquakes) or on mobilelaunchers? Japan is a small and populous country; what region ofthe country would want to accept these weapons, especiallysince they would make any such place a high-value target for anenemy first strike? It is likely that many local communities wouldcopy Okinawa in strongly protesting the militarization of theirback yards.
Japan could deploy these missiles on submarines, which wouldrequire a specialized submarine-launched missile, encapsulated forunderwater launch. The country would also have to develop a wholenew ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN), most likelynuclear-powered, meaning another technological hurdle (small,extremely safe nuclear reactors) that needs to be overcome.
All this would not be cheap. It cost Britain ￡15 billion (morethan US$19 billion) to create a four-boat fleet of Vanguard-classSSBNs – and London simply bought submarine-launched Trident IImissiles off the shelf from the United States (something Washingtonwould likely not do for Tokyo).
More than missiles
At the same time, Japan would have to build up a wholesupporting infrastructure for its nuclear weapons. Specialized,extremely secure storage facilities would have to be built atairbases and naval stations to secure them. Nuclear engineers wouldhave to be trained to maintain and handle these bombs andwarheads.
Japan would have to come up with a specialized command andcontrol to safeguard the use of nuclear forces. Security devicescalled permissive action links would have to be fitted to eachweapon to prevent the unauthorized arming or detonation of anuclear device. Such PALs would have to be highly encrypted toprevent their being hacked.
Tokyo would then have to devise protocols for arming and usingits nuclear forces. Most likely the prime minister would controlthe “nuclear football” containing the launch codes, and he or shewould be the final authority for the actual release of nuclearweapons. But what about submarine-launched nuclear forces? Evenwith the “two-man rule”, submarine commanders on SSBNstheoretically have considerable autonomy to launch on their ownauthority. Such details would have to be worked out.
You’re on your own, Japan
Above all, Tokyo would need to tackle all of thesetechnological and infrastructure issues on its own. The UnitedStates certainly is not going to help. It would cost billions,perhaps trillions, of yen to build a credible nuclear force, andtake decades to put it into place.
In the meantime … what? Will the Japanese public go along witha massive and expensive nuclear-weapons program? One might expectJapan’s political far right to love the idea. The nationalists havelong yearned for the day of reclaiming the country’s imperialheritage, of possessing a massive military force, including nuclearweapons, capable to defending the country independently.
But what about the vast majority of Japan’s population that isstill squeamish about the idea of going nuclear? Japan’s citizenshave had anti-militarist, anti-war, and anti-nuclear beliefsdrummed into them over the past 70 years.
These convictions are enshrined in Article 9 of itsconstitution, which renounces war as a tool of internationaldisputes. Yes, this article has been constantly reinterpreted overthe decades to permit the re-arming of Japan, sending Japaneseforces overseas, and engaging in collective security with theUnited States. Nevertheless, Article 9 is still construed asprohibiting offensive weapons, particularly nuclear forces.
Moreover, when it comes to nuclear weapons, Japan is a specialsingular victim, the only country ever to have been attacked withatomic bombs. These are difficult sentiments to overcome on theroad to “going nuclear”.
A nuclear Japan is not unimaginable. At the same time, it isnot a thing that could be done on the cheap, in a hurry, or withoutprovoking a massive political tempest.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own.
Japanese is an unrepentant war criminal and the American isthe Empire of Chaos, both of them will cut off the nose to spitethe face. As the Kamikaze operation in WWII shows Japanese willcommit suicide willingly for their national cult and glory.
There are profits, a very large one, to make by helping theJapanese and SK to arm nuclear weapon infrastructure while creatingmore chaos in Asia that makes China, Japan and S Korea less energyto threaten American hegemony somewhere else, it is very profitablebusiness when your don't have the capability to maintain yourhegemony in Western Pacific. Besides if the American will not helpa lot of other people will, British, French and Jew are the few popup in my mind right away.
It's not a matter does Japan really want nuclear weapons, butit's a matter of when.
Alex Fowler · Kelley School of Business
Kim Jong Un's most likely end goal is to acquire a large andreliable enough nuclear/missile arsenal to be able to crediblythreaten the US mainland (enough to overwhelm any missile defensesystem, likely at least several dozen bombs and the accompanyingmissiles) so that he can hold US cities hostage and blackmail theUS into standing on the sidelines while he invades the south. Giventhat, I think Japan and especially South Korea have to be thinkingabout an independent deterrent. Both countries could certainly doso internally but another option would be for the US to give Chinaa deadline of 6 months or a year to solve the North Korea issue andif they fail, we give nukes and delivery systems to Japan, SouthKorea, and Taiwan. Proliferation certainly isn't ideal but whenNorth Korea and Pakistan have nukes and Iran will shortly the catis already out of the bag.