From Japan Press Service
Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chair Nakagawa Shoichi has repeatedly called for a debate on whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear test. Faced with severe criticism in Japan and from around the world, he early this month stated that for the moment he will refrain from making such remarks. However, he is again calling for a debate. Obviously, he has never seriously reflected on his conduct. Not only Nakagawa and Foreign Minister Aso Taro (who has sided with Nakagawa) but also Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (who appointed Nakagawa) and Aso should be held responsible on this issue.
Making it difficult to urge N. Korea to abandon nuclear weapons
Nakagawa in his speech in Gifu City on November 23 said, “I accept the Three Non-Nuclear Principles (not to possess, produce, or allow the bringing-in of nuclear weapons), but I refuse to accept a fourth principle of ‘not to be allowed to talk’.”
He says that Japan will not be armed with nuclear weapons, but that it is good to actively discuss the issue of nuclear armament. How ridiculous this argument is! If he really claims that Japan will not be armed with nuclear weapons, what kind of discussions is he calling for? An NHK survey shows that 67 percent of the respondents said Japan “should not possess” nuclear weapons while only eight percent answered “should possess.” To talk as if there is room for discussion on Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons tramples on the public opinion that overwhelmingly rejects a nuclear-armed Japan.
Not only Nakagawa but Aso argues, “Debate on Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons is important.” However, what Japan should do in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear test is not debating about whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons in rivalry with North Korea but debating about how to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear program and how to create a world free of nuclear weapons.
As the only nuclear-bombed country, Japan bears a special responsibility to lead the effort to call for the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons. Only the assertion and activities based on this position will enable Japan to urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.
If Japan begins debating about its possession of nuclear weapons, it will undermine its internationally-accepted cause of urging North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, making it difficult for Japan to take initiatives on this issue. It will also invite international criticism of Japan, bringing about an obstacle to the international effort to call on North Korea to abolish its nuclear weapons.
In fact, the U.S., China, and South Korea have already expressed their concerns and criticism over the remarks by Nakagawa and Aso. Government leaders of these countries have raised the issue in recent summit meetings and foreign ministers’ meetings. Nakagawa’s recent remarks insisting on the debate arrogantly ignores international criticism.
Nakagawa insists that debating Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons will put pressure on North Korea. How can the international community deal with North Korea’s nuclear programs if they are prevented from working together? It is clear that such debate, far from being useful in persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, will only isolate Japan in the international community.
Prime Minister’s responsibility called into question
Commenting on the remarks of Nakagawa and Aso, LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chair Nikai Toshihiro said, “Repeated remarks that may cause misunderstandings could raise a question about the responsibility of the person who appointed them.” However, the LDP and Prime Minister Abe Shinzo have defended Nakagawa and Aso, rejecting the demand for their resignation.
If Nakagawa is to take up the discussion again on Japan’s nuclear armament, the prime minister will no longer be able to leave the issue as it is. Prime Minister Abe’s responsibility as the person who appointed him will be called into question if he fails to hold Nakagawa responsible.
– Akahata, November 25, 2006