Nakagawa floats sobering option: going nuclear

Kyodo News

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Japan should consider possessing nuclear weapons as a deterrent to a neighboring threat, former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa suggested Sunday.

In a speech in Obihiro, Hokkaido, in reference to North Korea’s rocket launch earlier this month that many believe was a ballistic missile test, the hawkish lawmaker said: “It is common sense worldwide that in pure military terms, nuclear counters nuclear.”

In Sunday’s speech, Nakagawa said he believes North Korea has many Rodong medium-range missiles that could reach almost any part of Japan and also has small nuclear warheads.

“North Korea has taken a step toward a system whereby it can shoot without prior notice,” he said. “We have to discuss countermeasures.”

He added that public discussions must be promoted on what has long been considered a national taboo: whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons.

Nakagawa stepped down as finance minister in February over what appeared to be drunken behavior at an international news conference in Rome.

He has called for debate in the past on whether Japan should go nuclear, telling a TV program as chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council in October 2006 that the Constitution does not rule out Japan possessing nuclear arms.

Pyongyang that month carried out a nuclear test.