Japan’s Constitution does not necessarily ban the use of nuclear weapons, Yusuke Yokobatake, director-general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, said Friday.
“We don’t think that the use of all kinds of nuclear weapons is prohibited under the Constitution,” the head of the constitutional watchdog told the House of Councilors’ Budget Committee in response to a question from Shinkun Haku of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan.
But “the use of weapons, not just nuclear arms, is restricted under domestic and international laws,” Yokobatake also said, adding that the use of nuclear weapons by Japan is unrealistic.
The remarks may cause repercussions at home and abroad, although they are in line with the government’s past statements, including a 1959 remark by former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.
The government sticks to the country’s nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not allowing the entry of nuclear weapons into the country.
At a press conference the same day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga flatly denied the possibility of Japan using a nuclear weapon. “The government does not think of such a thing at all,” he said.
During the parliamentary meeting, the DPJ lawmaker also asked whether it is possible for Japan to use a nuclear weapon overseas as it engages in collective self-defense, or uses force to help an ally under attack.
Yokobatake denied the possibility. “There has been no change in our view that we cannot send overseas a force that is beyond the minimum required to defend our country,” he said.