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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06TOKYO5084 2006-09-06 22:47:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tokyo
Cable title:  

NAKASONE ON JAPAN AND NUCLEAR ARMS

Tags:   PARM JA MNUC PREL 
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FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6079
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1228
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L TOKYO 005084 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/06/2016
TAGS: PARM JA MNUC PREL
SUBJECT: NAKASONE ON JAPAN AND NUCLEAR ARMS


Classified By: AMBASSADOR J. THOMAS SCHIEFFER. REASONS: 1.4(B)(D)



1. (SBU) Summary: A proposal by former Prime Minister
Nakasone that Japan study the option of acquiring nuclear
weapons under certain conditions is drawing critical
attention here. Although the original written proposal and
Nakasone's subsequent remarks to the press are heavily
caveated, media shorthand and receptive audiences may give
the idea that Japan should "study the nuclear issue" a
visibility and stature it would otherwise not deserve. End
summary.



2. (U) On September 5 former Prime Minister Nakasone's
think tank, the Institute for International Policy Studies,
issued a report entitled "An Image of Japan in the 21st
Century." Within the 26-page report are the following two
lines: "Japan, maintaining its position as a non-nuclear
weapons state and working to strengthen the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty system, should study the nuclear
issue in order to be prepared in the event of tremendous
future change in the international situation." In subsequent
remarks to the press, Nakasone elaborated, saying "There are
countries with nuclear weapons in the vicinity of Japan. We
are currently dependent on U.S. nuclear weapons (as a
deterrent), but it is not necessarily known whether that U.S.
attitude will continue." Nakasone also reiterated that
Japan's "first priority" is to maintain its non-nuclear
weapons status and its second priority to strengthen the NPT
system.



3. (U) "Nakasone Proposes Japan Consider Nuclear Weapons"
reads the headline of the Japan Times September 6 front-page
story. The vernacular press puts the story on the inside
pages, but basically uses the same shorthand headline, with
Tokyo Shimbun adding, "Nakasone's proposal, which might lead
to abandonment of the three non-nuclear principles, is likely
to create a stir."



4. (SBU) Asked to comment, several government-affiliated
think-tankers declined to offer opinions to Embassy Tokyo.
Shizuoka University Professor of International Relations
Tetsuya Umemoto told us the report and Nakasone's remarks
were nothing new, noting that the question of whether Japan
should acquire nuclear weapons had been examined many times
in the past and remained a legitimate topic of debate. In
short, there was nothing to get excited about, he asserted.



5. (C) MOFA Security Policy Principle Deputy Director Matano
agreed that the debate was not new, but acknowledged that
Japan's neighboring countries might "overreact." Japan's
official stance continues to be to rely on the U.S.-Japan
security relationship and the nuclear deterrence that it
provides. As the only nation to have suffered from a nuclear
bomb, public sentiment in Japan remains strongly against
developing a nuclear capacity. The government has used its
unique position in disarmament discussions in Geneva's
Conference on Disarmament and other fora. Matano noted that
North Korea's nuclear program and possible nuclear test have
fueled public discussion of what was almost a taboo topic
only a decade ago, but believed that sentiment both within
and outside the government remained overwhelmingly against
the domestic development of a nuclear deterrent capability.
SCHIEFFER