No need to review three non-nuclear principles, Kono says

Kyodo

Japan has no plan to review its three non-nuclear principles, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Friday, rejecting suggestions that Tokyo should deploy U.S. nuclear weapons throughout the country to further deter North Korea.

While reliant on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for protection, Japan, which lost two cities to atomic weapons in the closing days of World War II, has upheld the three principles of not possessing, not producing and not allowing the introduction of nuclear weapons into the country since 1967.

Kono’s remarks came after former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba said on a TV program Wednesday that Japan’s stance was ironic.

“Is it really right for us to say that we will seek the protection of U.S. nuclear weapons, but we don’t want them inside our country?” he asked.

Ishiba, seen as a potential rival to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said he was also opposed the idea of Japan possessing its own nuclear weapons.

Kono told reporters Friday that there was no need for change.

“At this juncture, the deterrent power of the United States is working,” and the government “has not reviewed the three non-nuclear principles so far and has no plan to discuss a review of them.”

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, also disagreed with Ishiba’s argument, saying at a news conference Thursday that the principles “are a national policy and must not be changed.”