OSAKA – Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, the head of Osaka Ishin no Kai, has voiced support for a national debate on whether or not Japan should possess nuclear weapons.
“With the perfect right to collective self-defense, we should debate whether our troops can completely cover the needs of our own country,” Matsui said during an informal meeting with reporters Tuesday at Osaka’s prefectural office. “If we possess weapons, the ultimate weapon will become necessary.”
The call for a national debate follows comments made by U.S. Republican presidential candidate and front-runner Donald Trump in an interview with The New York Times where he said he would be open to both Japan and South Korea possessing nuclear weapons and the U.S. withdrawing its forces from the two Asian countries.
Touching on Trump’s statement, Matsui said he thought it would be best if Japan did not possess a nuclear arsenal, as it had been bombed by such weapons.
But, in calling for debate on the issue, he added: “What do we do if America’s military strength (in Japan) disappears? Wishful thinking doesn’t get us anywhere.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, has said in the past that Japan will maintain the three nonnuclear principles that prohibit it from owning, developing and transporting nuclear weapons.
Matsui’s comments also came the same day the nation’s new security laws — which are expected to bind the U.S. and Japanese militaries even closer together — came into effect. It was also just a few days after the party released its basic plan for constitutional revisions.
Osaka Ishin leaders are close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Suga, who see Matsui and his party as potential allies on a number of issues, including amending the Constitution.
The Osaka governor’s comments are believed to reflect the sentiments of other right-leaning politicians as well.