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Takashi Tachibana, a political expert whose work led to the resignation of the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in the 1970s, is concerned that Japan could get nuclear weapons under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He said during a recent speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan that although Abe may not want to go nuclear, people like Kyoto University professor Terumasa Nakanishi, whom Abe relies on heavily for advice on foreign policy, wants U.S. nuclear weapons in Japan on condition that Tokyo has the right to order a nuclear strike, Tachibana said.

While this position is not widely accepted, the professor said chances are high that it could catch on with the recent deterioration of the public’s feelings about nuclear-armed China and North Korea, which also is believed to have atomic weapons.

Tachibana said he was also concerned that there are few people in leadership positions who would openly oppose having or using nuclear weapons, saying the situation is similar to the 1930s, when the government made a series of decisions that led the nation to war.

“I wouldn’t say Abe’s Cabinet will immediately move in that direction (of going nuclear), but . . . a very tragic consequence is possible when taking into account” all of these factors, the professor figured.

Calling Abe a “truly serious nationalist and conservative,” Tachibana said the first baby boomer prime minister does not accept the postwar values Japan has nurtured under its laws, illustrated by his keenness to amend the Constitution and the basic education law.

If Abe’s government reinterprets the Constitution to allow the country to participate in collective defense, as Abe also wants, Tachibana warned that Japan would become deeply entangled in any future wars the U.S. might wage.

He also argued that because of his admiration for his grandfather, the late Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, Abe has many blind spots about history, including criticizing the opposition to Kishi’s highly unpopular revision in 1960 to the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which resulted in his resignation the same year. Tachibana said the treaty was forced through the Diet, causing widespread public fear that democracy might be in jeopardy

“It is very dangerous if Abe’s political fighting position is modeled after his grandfather,” Tachibana said.

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