Shigeru Ishiba, former secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Sunday that Japan should possess the capability to build nuclear weapons.

"Japan should have the technology to build a nuclear weapon if it wants to do so," the former defense minister said in a speech in Tokyo.

"But I don't take the position that Japan should have nuclear weapons," he said.

Noting that some of Japan's neighbors, such as Russia, China and North Korea, have nuclear weapons, Ishiba said, "If we don't have knowledge about nuclear weapons, we would not develop an awareness of how to defend ourselves against them."