Japan Must Discuss Taboo Subjects Regarding National Security

Seiji Fuji

The world is denouncing Russia for its nuclear plant attacks

 On March 4, the top article on the front page of The Nikkei Evening Edition was entitled, “Fire at Ukrainian Nuclear Power Station: Russia Shells One of Europe’s Largest Nuclear Plants.” It read:

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba announced on Twitter that a fire broke out at a nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia (southern Ukraine) on March 4 after shelling by the Russian military. With six reactors, this nuclear plant has the capability to generate one of the largest amounts of power in Europe. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Tweeted that the Ukrainian authorities had reported no change in the amount of radioactive material from the plant and said major systems were not affected.

 The Japanese Wikipedia article on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station reads as follows:

This nuclear power plant is in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. It is the largest nuclear plant in Europe and the third largest in the world. Located on the shore of the Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnieper river, it is close to the Zaporizhzhia thermal power plant.
The plant has six VVER-1000 nuclear reactors with an output of roughly 1,000 MWe (totaling 6,000 MWe). The first five reactors were brought into operation from 1985 to 1989, and the sixth was added in 1995. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station generates half of the nuclear power in Ukraine, and it is said to provide one fifth of Ukraine’s power.

 The global community is strongly denouncing Russia’s attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. TOKYO Web posted an article on March 5 titled “International Community Censures Russia for Nuclear Plant Attack: Russia Claims Ukrainian Operatives are Responsible, Ukraine Says to Stop Lying.”

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting after the Zaporizhzhia plant fire on March 4. A resolution denouncing Russia for its attack on Ukraine was just passed at the UN General Assembly two days before. There is growing disappointment about Russia stepping up its assault and disregarding calls for withdrawal.
U.S. Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield criticized Russia, saying, “Not only has [Russian President Vladimir Putin] not listened, we’ve just witnessed a dangerous new escalation that represents a dire threat to all of Europe and the world.” British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward emphasized, “International law mandates special protection for nuclear facilities […] This must not happen again.”
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi also held an emergency press conference on March 4 where he shared his view that the Zaporizhzhia fire was started by a projectile launched by the Russian military. He has repeatedly spoken to restrain Russia, including his statement on February 24 that Russia’s attack on the nuclear plant “constitutes a violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and the Statute of the Agency.” These concerns have been realized.
We must first recognize the history behind the constitution

 Ishihara had a strong desire to establish an independent constitution. He penned a monthly column in The Sankei Shimbun called “Japan!” On May 14, 2007, he wrote as follows in the article entitled “Historical Legitimacy of the Current Constitution.”

Since the inauguration of the new Shinzo Abe Cabinet, a lively discussion is finally taking place on constitutional reform (one of Abe’s important promises), including the national referendum procedures to effect change. However, hearing these conversations inspires in me a sense of futility.
All laws – including the constitution – are the fruits of their era. In other words, they are the products of history. This means that when discussing them we should attempt to engage in accurate analyses of the historical backgrounds that led to their enactment, and to make decisions based on this awareness. The arguments about constitutional change taking place this Diet session and in the media lack the sufficient understanding of history they should be premised on.
Now that world history as a whole is being greatly transformed, there are many things occurring that would have been impossible in the past. Huntington aptly named these historical factors as the “Clash of Civilizations.” In other words, it seems global domination by white people, which began in the modern era, is finally coming to an end. Another scholar referred to this as the arrival of “apolarity.”
Namely, the powerful “poles” ruling the world are being lost, and religious fanatics are engaging in violent clashes to replace them. Advanced nations are isolated in this trend. Economic activities across the world stagnate, civilization loses ground, and a dark epoch arrives. It is true that there are omens of this.
In this history, it is only natural for Japan to gain true independence, clearly communicate its intentions regarding national responsibilities, and enact new fundamental laws to fulfill its responsibilities as a powerful country. During this process, it is absolutely essential that we base these discussions on attempts to calmly look back at history – the historical circumstances when the current constitution was created, and the fact that Japan was made to accept it unilaterally.
The U.S. wrote and unilaterally forced the current constitution on Japan with the objective of ensuring it would never achieve a comeback as a military nation. This was a way of charging Japan – the only nation in modern history founded by people of color – for its offense of starting the Pacific War, which was truly a clash of cultures. The intentions of the Japanese side were mostly disregarded during the process. I was fortunate to gain some renown at a young age, and through literary circles I became acquainted with the late Jiro Shirasu. I cannot forget the stories he told about how the constitution was forced on Japan as its fundamental law by the occupation army. As Tsuneari Fukuda also pointed out, there are several errors with the Japanese-language particles. But with our disgraceful constitution, bothersome procedures are required to fix even a single particle in the preamble. Before engaging in trivial discussions about which parts to change, these must be premised on a clear-headed, precise analysis and recognition of the historical background that led to the constitution.
Japan should consider floating nuclear plants that can withstand emergencies

 Toyo Keizai Online published an interview with nuclear power consultant Satoshi Sato on March 8, titled, “Expert Describes Reckless Nature of Russia’s Nuclear Plant Attacks.” Sato suspects that Russia struck and occupied the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia plants as a way to guard against an attack by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, nuclear plants are not secure enough to withstand a military strike, which is why international law prohibits attacks on these plants. While an atomic bomb-like explosion would not be set off if a reactor containment vessel was destroyed with a missile or other weapon, “the impacts of radioactive materials spread all around would be much worse than a 10-megaton hydrogen bomb.” Ukraine and the world would likely suffer unimaginable damage if this actually happened at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
 The United States’ bloodiest war was not the Revolutionary War or World War II; it was the Civil War that resulted in approximately 600,000 casualties from 1861 to 1865. So many people died in this conflict, which took place before World War I, because it was the first modern war. Similarly, the current war between Ukraine and Russia suggests the format of future warfare using drones and attacks on nuclear plants. In addition to soldier casualties, we are starting to see many civilians killed in urban warfare and other battles. The international community must quickly build a framework to end this war.
 As Sato pointed out, nuclear plants are not currently built to withstand armed attacks. Although a major catastrophe has not yet happened at a nuclear plant during this war, we cannot assume that something unexpected will not occur. I believe Japan should promote nuclear power across the world from the viewpoint of carbon neutral energy that balances greenhouse gas emissions and removal. Low-output, safe small modular reactors (SMRs) are drawing global attention. They are inexpensive to build because the factory-made modules be installed on site. And since they do not require large-scale infrastructure, SMRs can be constructed close to where power is needed, which I think would help mitigate the effects of global warming. However, I imagine we would have to consider where to install them in light of wars, earthquakes, and other emergencies. I favor the idea of floating nuclear power plants in the ocean near the coast. These would be good at withstanding earthquakes and tsunamis and could be temporarily sunken to avoid military attacks. In the event of a total power outage it would be easy to bring in seawater, and if a serious emergency occurred the plant could be submerged to reduce the spread of radioactive materials. Russia started operating its floating nuclear power station Akademik Lomonosov in May 2020. In the world after the invasion of Ukraine, I imagine nuclear power plants will be built in places that offer better safety during emergencies.

Abe proposed nuclear sharing

 On February 27, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared on Fuji Television program Nichoyo Hodo THE PRIME regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Abe indicated his thinking that Japan should discuss a nuclear sharing agreement, which is something I have frequently advocated. The following is an excerpt from this discussion posted on FNN Prime Online:

Toru Hashimoto (regular program commentator, former governor of Osaka Prefecture, former major of Osaka City, attorney): The situation in Ukraine gives me a profound sense that we absolutely need the ability to protect our own country. Ukraine is truly struggling with this right now.
As you said, Mr. Abe, Japan should have the ability to wage strikes and counterattacks. We must consider stationing intermediate-range missiles in Japan together with the U.S. Furthermore, even if it isn’t realistic for Japan to immediately procure nuclear weapons, the U.S. and Japan should talk about [revising] the rule of “not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons” in the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. The Liberal Democratic Party seems to have cold feet because this topic draws strong criticism from some media outlets. However, I wish they would make this a major point at issue in the next House of Councillors election. They should talk about a vision for Japanese self-defense. Will we consider nuclear weapons or not? I hope they will bring this up during the election.
Abe: I think we should avoid focusing too much on the idea of attacking enemy bases. Instead, we should think about aiming at military backbones and destroying military infrastructure. There’s no need to strike bases in particular; we must have the ability for counterattacks. Japan would not carry out preemptive attacks because they are prohibited by international law. On the question of nuclear weapons, for example, the four NATO countries of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy take part in a nuclear sharing arrangement. American nuclear weapons are stationed in these countries, which can drop atomic bombs [using their airplanes]. I doubt many Japanese people have heard of this agreement. Of course, Japan is a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and has its own Three Non-Nuclear Principles as well. But we must be willing to talk about the taboo subject of how safety is actually maintained in our world.
Hashimoto: Japan should consider nuclear sharing. [Some] NATO states are actually sharing nuclear weapons, which means Russia cannot easily make moves against them. We must never use nuclear weapons, but discussions are necessary.
Abe: Ukraine used to be the world’s number-three nuclear state. Russia, the U.S., and United Kingdom promised to guarantee Ukraine’s safety in exchange for its renouncing nuclear weapons according to the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine should have been able to defend its borders and independence, but regretfully this hasn’t happened. Today people are arguing about what would have happened if Ukraine still had any tactical nuclear weapons or if it was capable of using them. Considering that, we must engage in calm-headed discussions. It is important for Japan – which has been the victim of atomic bomb attacks – to hold up the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons and take steps to accomplish this. In light of the situation [in Ukraine], we should engage in discussions about many different possibilities for protecting our country and the lives of the Japanese people.
Hashimoto: We absolutely have to talk about nuclear sharing in Japan.
The U.S. is starting to think positively about Japan having nuclear weapons

 Yoshihisa Komori, a special correspondent of The Sankei Shimbun in Washington, D.C., wrote an article titled “Discussions on Nuclear Sharing: American Support for Abe’s Idea” for the JBpress website. He mentioned Abe’s statements published in The Wall Street Journal in “A New Nuclear Debate in Japan,” an opinion article from March 2.

Japan has avoided talking about nuclear deterrence while being protected by American nuclear weapons, and it has not deployed nuclear arms in Japanese territory. But as Abe pointed out, Japanese leaders can no longer refuse to discuss strategic issues related to nuclear weapons.
There are many obstacles that Japan must clear to implement nuclear weapons sharing with the U.S. like Western European countries. These include political opposition in Japan, external diplomatic issues, building equipment for the joint control of nuclear weapons, and enhancing cooperation between frontline Japanese and American troops.
The American side should take note of Abe’s proposal as a defense-minded reaction to the progress of new expansion by the autocratic nations of Russia and China.

 The Wall Street Journal also published an opinion on March 4, “China’s Bad Ukraine War.” It said that European and Asian nations are turning towards harder China policies due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including Abe’s statements about nuclear weapons. It took a favorable stance regarding Abe’s proposal:

In Japan, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the weekend became the most senior politician ever to call for Japan to host American nuclear weapons on its soil. Such a move remains in the future, but Beijing would prefer that Japan remain a staunch pacifist forever. It may be too late for that as the war in Ukraine focuses Asian minds on the security of Taiwan.

 Komori concludes his article by saying, “The Japan side should be more conscious of the broadly positive response to Abe’s statements in the U.S. But in any case, the main topic is how to defend the Japanese nation and the security of its people.” I agree entirely with Komori. Japan is facing circumstances in which it must consider and exercise all sorts of means to ensure national security. We must transform Japan into a country that is capable of independent self-defense as quickly as possible while promptly taking up taboo topics such as nuclear weapons and constitutional revision to make the Japan Self-Defense Forces into a military.

March 17 (Thursday), 10:00 a.m.