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Japan must take realistic option in face of increasing nuclear threat
Publication Date : 07-08-2013
On Tuesday, Hiroshima marks the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. Nagasaki will do the same Friday.
As the only nation ever to have been attacked with atomic weapons, how will Japan pass on the accounts of the terrible devastation wrought by the bombings and entreat the world to prevent nuclear weapons, which are inhumane by themselves, from being used again? The average age of atomic-bomb survivors has already passed 78.
In a declaration of peace to be announced Tuesday at a peace memorial ceremony, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui will pledge his utmost efforts to work toward the elimination of nuclear arms by 2020.
But in light of the harsh realities of today’s world, high hurdles lie on the road to nuclear abolition.
The number of nuclear weapons, which totalled about 70,000 at the peak of the Cold War, has been cut significantly due to nuclear reduction talks between the United States and Russia. But more than 17,000 such weapons reportedly still remain.
In a speech he made in Berlin in June, US President Barack Obama proposed cutting the respective number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the two nuclear superpowers by about one-third. We hope negotiations on this matter will proceed steadily.
Needless to say, nuclear disarmament is not an issue to be dealt with by Washington and Moscow alone. China and other nuclear powers should actively get involved in the issue.
The nuclear control system under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which bans possession of nuclear arsenals by countries other than the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China, has been noticeably frayed for years.
N. Korea’s moves worrying
Of particular concern is North Korea’s attempt to make its possession of nuclear weapons a fait accompli. Following its test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile in December, North Korea charged ahead with its third nuclear test in February. It is accelerating efforts to develop nuclear warheads small enough to be mounted on a missile capable of reaching the continental United States.
All of Japan lies within range of Rodong intermediate-range ballistic missiles deployed by Pyongyang. If North Korea successfully develops nuclear warheads, it is highly likely Japan could become the target of its first nuclear strike.
This concern is behind the emergence of support in the Liberal Democratic Party and elsewhere for the view that Japan should possess the capabilty to attack missile bases and other enemy facilities in self-defence.
In cooperation with the United States and South Korea, as well as Beijing and Moscow, Japan must relentlessly urge Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
The US nuclear umbrella is the bedrock of Japan’s national security policy. We believe its importance is increasing all the more.
Since three years ago, Washington has been providing Tokyo with information on some nuclear facilities in the United States.
Promoting Japan-US consultative talks on nuclear deterrence is essential for the bilateral alliance to function. This also will reinforce the deterrence policy.
Telling the world about the awful devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and using the US nuclear umbrella to protect national security from nearby nuclear threats: This is the realistic option Japan can take as an atomic-bombed nation and a country without nuclear weapons.