Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons: Will idealism and realism converge?
NUMATA Sadaaki  / Vice Chairman, The English Speaking Union of Japan

December 15, 2010
In early November, I attended a Japan-U.S. symposium on nuclear disarmament and science in Washington, D.C. The debate among the prominent arms controllers, strategists and scientists including an American Nobel laureate centered on the strategic analysis of whether "a world without nuclear weapons" would in fact bring about greater stability. Both the proponents and skeptics based their arguments on hard-headed assessment of the shifting role of nuclear weapons as the world had moved from the Cold-War era into the post-Cold-War and then to the post-9/11 era.

If such a symposium took place in Japan, it would probably be long on ideals and short on strategy. For over six decades since the end of WWII, Japan's nuclear policy has been pulled between the "ideal" of eliminating nuclear weapons and the "reality" of relying on the U.S. extended deterrence. With the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki deeply etched on the Japanese psyche, the public felt little sympathy for the realists'rationale for deterrence. For long, the idealists and the realists have each argued their case in their own cocoon.

Since the end of the Cold War, the threat of global nuclear war has become remote. The recent U.S. Russia New START agreement, yet to be ratified, limits the number of deployed warheads to 1,550. In contrast, after the 9.11 attacks, the risk of nuclear attack stemming from nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism has become much more real. There are dangers lurking in Iran and the Middle East, Al-Qaeda, India and Pakistan, and North Korea. These fears have given rise to a new global realism that accepts the diminishing role of the nuclear weapons and prompts us to move forward, step by step, towards a world without nuclear weapons.

This has produced a paradox for Japan. North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship and adventurism, recently manifested in its construction of an enriched uranium facility and its artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, have again brought into sharp relief an existential threat to Japan's security. China's modernization of its naval and air forces and nuclear and missile capabilities lacks transparency. It has also intensified its activities in waters near Japan. These are a matter for concern for Japan and the region. Just as the alarm over these developments has begun to lead to a more realistic appreciation in Japan of the role of the US extended deterrence, the world has started moving towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The road ahead will be bumpy. But we should begin to pursue "a world of decreased nuclear risks" as a transition strategy. In Japan, it is time for the idealists and the realists to come together to hammer out a strategy which will give us adequate assurance of security and, at the same time, take us closer to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. There is not much time to lose as the United States adjusts its deterrence structure in East Asia, for example, by retiring the nuclear-equipped sea-launched cruise missile (TLAM-N), while North Korea, kept on life support by China, escalates its nuclear brinkmanship.

We need to ensure that the deterrence under the Japan-U.S. alliance works as the role of nuclear weapons diminishes. To do that, we need in the first place to learn more about nuclear weapons and conduct in-depth, regular consultations with the United States on its nuclear doctrine and strategy. Secondly, we need to strengthen the non-nuclear elements of the alliance including missile defense and counter-CBW capabilities. Thirdly, to sustain all this, we need, above all, to restore and maintain a strong, trusting political relationship with the United States.

More broadly, if Japan is to play a leading role in the global effort for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, it needs to be based on a solid national security and alliance policy at home.

The writer is a former ambassador to Canada, ambassador in charge of Okinawan affairs, and ambassador to Pakistan
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

沼田 貞昭 / 日本英語交流連盟副会長

2010年 12月 15日


冷戦終焉後、世界規模の核戦争の脅威は遠ざかった。最近の米ロ戦略兵器削減新協定(New START)は、未批准であるが、配備核弾頭数を各1,550に制限している。他方、9.11事件後、核兵器の拡散および核テロに起因する核攻撃のリスクはますます現実味を帯びて来ている。イラン・中東、アルカエダ、インド・パキスタン、そして北朝鮮にこの種の危険が潜んでいる。このような懸念を基に、核兵器の役割が縮小していくことを受け入れて、核兵器の無い世界に向かい一歩一歩進むことを慫慂する新たな現実主義が生まれて来ている。





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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Eliminating Nuclear Weapons: Will idealism and realism converge?