If there is a country, which knows and understands how devastating a nuclear attack can be, it has to be Japan. During World War II, it was Japan that suffered two atom bomb attacks that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, you cannot afford to be stuck in anachronism all the time and Tokyo must respond to contemporary security challenges even if that means acquiring nuclear warheads. Japan has a massive nuclear power industry, which is presently used for civil purposes. Japan is the only country with a peaceful nuclear programme that reprocesses its spent nuclear fuel to produce plutonium. In fact, it has been storing huge stockpiles of plutonium that can help it in quickly making a nuclear bomb.
The rise of China as a threat to democracy around the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific has prompted many nations to recalibrate their geopolitical outlooks. In the past two years, at least two groupings aimed squarely against China have come into being – QUAD and AUKUS. While the former is comprised of India, Japan, the United States, and Australia, the latter is a military technologies sharing group that would soon facilitate the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.
Interestingly, as is a ritual, the United Nations on Monday adopted a Japan-sponsored resolution calling for the total elimination of nuclear arms for the 28th consecutive year. However, this Japan-sponsored resolution did not mention the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is the pact outlawing the development, testing, possession, and use of such arms that took effect in January. This has led to speculations regarding Japan’s behind-the-scenes moves. Is Japan developing and testing nuclear capabilities in any manner? Only time will tell.
Time for Japan to Take the Leap of Faith
Japan still operates diesel-powered submarines, which despite being among the best in the world, are not in sync with the times we live in. Today, nuclear submarines are a must if any country wants to assert itself as a blue water navy and take on China. And there is growing talk within political circles of Japan that it is time for the country to go nuclear, locking the taboo and fear related to the word ‘nuclear’ to the shelves of history.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is planning a constitutional overhaul, which is to say he is about to officially abandon Japan’s pacifist attitude and make it normal for the country to use its military and weapons as and when it deems fit.
According to The Mandarin, “In light of the need for increased naval capabilities, the decision to obtain and develop nuclear propulsion technologies would hardly be called unexpected.”
Read more: Here’s how soon Japan can turn into a full-fledged nuclear power
Japan is Almost There
But Japan can go nuclear very soon. In fact, it might take only six months for Japan to produce a nuclear bomb by some estimates. Already, Japan has traditionally allowed its main rivals- North Korea and China, to believe that it is a part of the nuclear club and a near-nuclear state with a “bomb in the basement”. Japan’s “bomb in the basement” is believed to be strong enough for China to demand that Tokyo gets rid of its plutonium stockpile.
As per a 2014 CNBC report, a senior government official associated closely with the country’s nuclear energy programme said that Japan has had the capability to build nuclear warheads since it launched a plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant almost 30 years ago. Presently, Japan has a surplus 47 metric tons of plutonium. This is sufficient to produce as many as 5,000 nuclear warheads.
The official said, “Japan already has the technical capability, and has had it since the 1980s.” He explained that as soon as Japan had more than five to 10 kilograms of plutonium, it had crossed the nuclear threshold and the amount needed for a nuclear weapon. This virtually means that Tokyo had a nuclear deterrent in the 1980s itself.
Japan needs to pull the final strength to propel itself to the finish line, and it will be able to turn the tables upside down on China.
Leave a Reply