The Japanese government welcomed on Feb. 3 the Nuclear Posture Review – a new nuclear strategy guideline – announced by the U.S. Trump administration, which has shifted from the policy of creating a “nuclear-free world” advocated by the previous Obama administration. A senior government official said, “The new NPR will enhance expanded deterrence.” It clearly shows that the security policy of Japan depends on the “nuclear umbrella” provided by the U.S. However, Japan, as the only atomic-bombed country, has called for the abolition and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, so coherence with its standpoint will likely be called into question.
“The new NPR clearly shows that the United States’ intention to ensure the effectiveness of its deterrence and its commitment to expanded deterrence for its allies including Japan, so we highly evaluate the new NPR,” said Foreign Minister Taro Kono in a statement he announced. Kono added, “While appropriately dealing with security threats, we will continue to closely cooperate with the United States in promoting nuclear disarmament.”
A senior official of the Foreign Ministry revealed that “the U.S. government provided the Japanese government with an explanation in advance about the new NPR.” Regarding the policy of not ruling out the preemptive use of nuclear weapons to protect the interests of the U.S. and its allies, the official presented a view, saying, “The new NPR made the purpose of nuclear weapons more specific and transparent.”
The U.S. has also called for its allies, which are being exposed to nuclear threats, to share the burden. In this regard, a government source emphasized, “The U.S. is urging members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to share more burdens and Japan is not engaged in the nuclear deterrence mission so Japan’s burden sharing will not increase.”
On the other hand, some are critical of Japan’s stance of depending on the nuclear umbrella, calling it “failure to fulfill its responsibility as the atomic-bombed country.” A senior government official said, “While dealing with the North Korea issue, we will aim to abolish nuclear weapons.” The official went on to say that “it is only natural that the tragedy of the atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must not be repeated,” seeking understanding for the Japanese government’s position.