Jimbo Ken, Keio University Professor
The Japanese Prime Minister and the U.S. Ambassador to Japan’s visit to Hiroshima was symbolic. It showed the global community that Japan and the U.S. will cooperate to realize a world without nuclear weapons.
Russia has hinted at the use of nuclear weapons and threatened a nuclear war if the U.S. military and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) intervene [in the Ukraine invasion]. Russia has now posited nuclear weapons as weapons available for use.
The devastation caused by nuclear weapons is incomparable to that by conventional weapons. Showing the reality of the areas in Hiroshima that suffered atomic bombing should make discussions of these issues more convincing.
If the U.S. becomes more reluctant to use nuclear weapons to avoid nuclear warfare, Japan’s deterrence from protection under the U.S.’s “nuclear umbrella” will decline. This issue may be the reason behind the emergence of the nuclear sharing debate.
The role of nuclear deterrence is being reassessed globally. Neighboring countries such as China and North Korea are increasing their nuclear arsenals. It is important to maintain the ideal to abolish nuclear weapons in the future, but unilaterally calling for nuclear disarmament in a harsh security environment is counterproductive.
Akiyama Nobumasa, Hitotsubashi University Professor
The joint visit of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel to Hiroshima provided an opportunity to reaffirm the existence of a strong alliance that has overcome the past. The visit, which emphasized the significance of nuclear weapons not having been used since 1945, may also be aimed at deterring Russia, which hinted at the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
The threat of Russia’s nuclear weapons is becoming more credible. There is widespread recognition that nuclear weapons are being reconsidered. On the other hand, more and more people have come to share the idea that nuclear weapons should not be used. The global community’s division over nuclear weapons has become more acute.
Japan first needs to think about how to respond to the nuclear threat it faces. Ukraine is highly motivated and capable of continuing to fight. It suggests that efforts to defend one’s own country are important to obtain support from the global community.
How will Japan secure such strength? It is important that the National Security Strategy, currently under revision, includes a policy on procurement of equipment to enhance deterrence against China, in cooperation with the U.S.