Aware as he is that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki make Japan the only country to have directly experienced the horror of a nuclear attack, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida must convince the nation that only a credible deterrent can guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be employed again.
Failing to address this need while repeating the mantra of “a world without nuclear weapons” does absolutely nothing to enhance security for the people of Japan.
On March 26, the Prime Minister accompanied the new ambassador of the United States to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, on a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park in Kishida’s hometown. The two men visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and then laid flower wreaths at the cenotaph, which commemorates the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing.
Kishida pointed out the concerns that Russia might use nuclear weapons during its invasion of Ukraine, saying, “The use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, is absolutely unacceptable.”
It was the United States that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. And it is the United States, now as an ally, that provides a nuclear umbrella as a nuclear deterrent for Japan’s defense.
Struggling for words as he described his reaction to the displays chronicling the devastation wrought by the atomic bombing which he had viewed in the Peace Memorial Museum, Emanuel said that there was no place more fitting than Hiroshima for understanding the importance of world peace.
Kishida and Emanuel commemorated the spirits of the war dead during their visit to Hiroshima. But, more significantly, they also reaffirmed the solidarity of the Japan-US alliance, which has been significant in terms of rallying international public opinion to prevent Russia from using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Emanuel indicated that if President Joe Biden would visit Japan, he would like to visit either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. We hope that such a presidential visit will come to pass.
Deterrence is Essential to Securing the Peace
Although Prime Minister Kishida has stated that the defense of the nation from the threat of a nuclear attack requires a “realistic response,” simply saying that is not enough to get the message across. He must more clearly explain to the Japanese public the need for a deterrent.
China, North Korea, and Russia all are nuclear powers. And all shamelessly violate international law. We cannot deny the danger that they might use their nuclear arsenals to target Japan.
Science and technology currently offer no reliable methods for preventing a nuclear attack. Consequently, it is extremely important that a nation and its allies possess nuclear deterrence. This means they must be able to respond to the menace of a nuclear attack by having the ability to retaliate in kind.
And Russia is not the only threat. North Korea recently launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that would be capable of reaching anywhere in the United States. Meanwhile, China is rapidly building up its nuclear forces. Thus, in terms of nuclear threats, the security environment surrounding Japan has become extremely severe.
Blind adherence to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles of not producing, not possessing, and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan, or the refusal to even discuss acquisition of a deterrent, including sharing of nuclear weapons, places Japan at peril.
Prime Minister Kishida and other government leaders should investigate whether the United States nuclear umbrella functions as the most effective deterrent, and then respond accordingly.
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- A Call for Serious and Intelligent Debate on Nuclear Deterrence
- Ukraine Nightmare: Fumio Kishida Seeks to Prevent an Escalation to Nuclear War
(Read the editorial in Japanese at this link.)
Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun