Nuclear Japan?


Japan has become the world’s largest holder of weapons-usable plutonium.  The only barrier that stops Japan from becoming a nuclear weapons state is public and political opposition. This is the conclusion reached by nuclear weapons expert Frank Barnaby and Shaun Burnie, in a recent article in World Disarm, the journal of the World Disarmament Campaign UK (March 2007). Japan, say the authors, has already become a de facto nuclear weapons state.

Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant has been commissioned (cost $21 billion) to refine plutonium that is produced in Japan’s nuclear power stations – at present the Japanese have their plutonium-rich spent fuel reprocessed in UK and France.  The authors calculate that by 2020 Japan’s plutonium stockpile will reach 145 metric tons!

The failure to prevent nuclear proliferation, from the days when the world had only one nuclear nation, is having predictably disastrous consequences.  The existing nuclear powers have studied to increase their nuclear arsenals, an admission that genuine attempts at cooperation between nations is not considered feasible, with the result that today eight nations have armed themselves with these weapons of mass destruction, two more are imminent, and around 30 other nations are judged to be on the brink.  With China, India, and now possibly North Korea nuclear-armed, there is understandable pressure in Japan to go over the nuclear threshold.  Only the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki holds Japan back.