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Amid mounting exchanges of harsh words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, there is a rising opinion within certain quarters in the United States that Japan and South Korea should be armed with nuclear weapons.

Pat Buchanan, a conservative commentator, may gain support from some populace when he asks why the U.S. has to defend Japan and South Korea, whose economies are 100 times and 40 times, respectively, larger than the North’s. Echoing what Trump said during the campaign last year, Buchanan points out that while North Korea’s defense spending accounts for 25 percent of its gross domestic product, the comparable figures are 2.6 percent for South Korea and less than 1 percent for Japan. Under these circumstances, how long will Japan be able to rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and maintain its long-standing policy of neither possessing or building nuclear weapons or permitting their introduction into the country?

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