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If Japanese officials have conducted any clear-eyed, hard-headed analysis of the government’s policy options on North Korea’s nuclear challenge, they have managed to keep it well hidden.

When India tested a nuclear bomb in 1998 (followed immediately by Pakistan), a range of sanctions were imposed, including by Japan. In the following months I was asked more about that by Japanese shocked by the betrayal of the anti-nuclear cause than anything else about India. Yet in 2005 India was back in good standing as a de facto nuclear-armed state with a special exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (established in reaction to India’s 1974 test in the first place) and a bilateral nuclear deal with the United States. By now bilateral deals have been concluded with many other countries, including Australia, Canada and Japan.

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