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LDP discusses “nuclear-sharing”

  • March 17, 2022
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

On March 16, the Research Commission on Security (led by Onodera Itsunori) within the Liberal Democratic Party met for discussions on the idea of “nuclear-sharing,” which concerns the United States’ use of nuclear weapons outside its territory. Japan’s crisis awareness of nuclear attacks has heightened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  


According to a senior member of the Research Commission on Security, the majority of participants in the meeting held the view that [the idea of nuclear-sharing] “does not suit Japan” in light of the country’s three non-nuclear principles.


The research commission held a study session on “extended deterrence.” The essence of the idea is that Japan would strengthen its deterrence through the U.S., which would consider any nuclear attack on Japan as an attack on itself and clarify its position to mount a counterattack with nuclear weapons. Japan has been protected under the “nuclear umbrella” of the Japan-U.S. alliance.  


The nuclear-sharing policy that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) adopted during the Cold War era was also discussed. As Russia has not foresworn the use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, the importance of nuclear deterrence was once again acknowledged.


The view that it is difficult for Japan to have a nuclear-sharing policy like the one adopted by NATO is dominant in the LDP because this would call into question consistency with the three non-nuclear principles of “not possessing, building or introducing nuclear weapons.” Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has repeatedly denied the possibility of the government considering that option during Diet interpellations.


At the study session held on March 16, Onodera noted that “we will hear opinions from experts and reflect them in our national security policies.”  Experts who were present at the session pointed out that “there is no merit in reviewing the three non-nuclear principles.”


LDP National Defense Division Director Miyazawa Hiroyuki, who is also a member of the Research Commission on Security, told reporters after the meeting that (discussions) ended with the feeling that nuclear-sharing is different.” He said that no participants called for reviewing the three non-nuclear principles.


The government aims to revise the country’s “National Security Strategy,” a policy blueprint for foreign policy and defense, by the end of the year. The Research Commission on Security will draft defense policy proposals by around May. On March 16, Miyazawa indicated that [the proposals] will not make reference to nuclear-sharing.

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