The Defense Agency compiled a report in 1995 that said there would be no merit to Japan developing nuclear weapons, it was learned Thursday.
According to government sources, the report said Japan would suffer huge political and economic costs if it had a nuclear arsenal, because of loss of trust from neighboring states and erosion to the credibility of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The alliance is based on the premise that Japan is protected under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Japan getting the bomb could also trigger the destruction of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and upset the balance of power in Asia, it said. Japan’s neighbors might also interpret it as an act to seek a more independent defense posture, it added.
The Defense Agency compiled the document following growing concerns in other parts of Asia that Japan could become a nuclear power in the wake of North Korea’s suspected 1993-1994 nuclear weapons development, the sources said.
The 31-page internal document, drawn up under the administration of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, concluded that possessing atomic weapons would go against Japan’s national interests and that the best policy is to rely on the nuclear deterrence provided by the U.S.
The report also said the U.S. was unlikely to condone Pyongyang’s going nuclear.
But even if North Korea arms itself with nuclear weapons, this would still not be considered grounds for Japan to do likewise, according to the report.
Since the late 1960s, the government has maintained the basic principles of not producing, possessing or allowing the entry of nuclear weapons.
The 1995 report was compiled by three people — one each from the Defense Agency, the Joint Staff Council and the National Institute for Defense Studies — under the instructions of then Vice Defense Chief Shigeru Hatakeyama.
Although the existence of the report had been known, its details have never before come to light.
The agency also wrote a report on the merits of Japan going nuclear in the 1960s-1970s, in which the conclusion was also negative.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.