Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The nuclear debate in Japan

Several politicians in Japan are discussing whether the country should possess nuclear weapons to protect against the threat of North Korea and other nuclear enemy states. Here's a quick guide on the debate that is going on in Japan. From MSN/Mainichi:
Q: Why has this nuclear discussion by Nakagawa and other politicians suddenly surfaced?

A: Actually, there's a small number of politicians who believe they should discuss the possibility of Japan going nuclear. When the Mainichi polled all Diet politicians in June this year, 17 percent of responding pollees said they should discuss it, depending on international affairs. A little more than half of the pollees responded. In 2002, then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda caused a stir by saying that the public would become in favor of possessing nuclear weapons if international relations became strained.

Q: Is there any possibility that Japan would alter its non-nuclear principles?

A: A few politicians have sided with Nakagawa and Aso. Japan is the only country that suffered from atomic bomb attacks, and has ratified the non-nuclear proliferation treaty. The public in Japan would never allow the country to possess nuclear weapons.

On top of that, ruling party politicians and government officials believe that Japan doesn't need nuclear weapons while the United States' "nuclear umbrella" protects the country. However, some people feel that it is strange for Japanese people to speak of the need to abolish nuclear weapons around the world while being protected under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Japan already has a nuclear program that provides the country's energy needs. Its first commercial nuclear power plant began operation in 1966. Currently, Japan has 52 nuclear reactors operating around the country with a total output of 45,742 megawatts (MW). Nuclear power accounts for approximately one-third of the country's total electric power output.

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