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The U.S. Defense Department this week released its annual report on China’s military power. Central to its analysis is the “accelerating pace” of China’s nuclear weapons program, which, if completed as anticipated, will transform the regional security environment.

Much remains opaque about Chinese intentions, but prudence demands that Japan and other governments take the report’s analysis and assumptions seriously, and plan accordingly. The Beijing government must not be allowed to think that its military modernization effort is going unnoticed and will not provoke a response.

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