Japan’s Right-Wing Government and the Anti-Nuclear Movement

by Teiichiro TONOUE, The compiler of Chronological Table of Nuclear Weapons


What I am going to discuss in this article is almost entirely based on circumstantial evidence. It seems impossible to experimentally test a hypothesis related to social movement, however a number of logical inferences can determine regular observation of social phenomena, especially political matters. By measuring the outcomes inferred over time, the hypothesis can then be empirically verified. If a negative outcome is measured based on the decisions made, the inferences may be reconsidered and an alternative course of action is chosen. It is otherwise difficult to make prudent and wise judgments, when one simply relies on the unfounded, such as feeling and intuition, to determine a response. Under these circumstances, one can scarcely take a lesson from failure as there is no benchmark to determine a successful outcome. The process of repeatedly verifying logical inferences is useful to acquiring an insight into the course of politics.  

Global Trends toward Nuclear Abolishment  

The Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, held in Nayarit, Mexico, on February 13 and 14, 2014, was successful and made significant breakthrough on the nuclear abolishment issue. It was attended by delegations from 146 states, including India and Pakistan, and stated in the Chair’s summary: “The broad-based and comprehensive discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons should lead to the commitment of States and civil society to reach new international standards and norms, through a legally binding instrument.” In addition, a specific date 2015 was set to realize the objectives. In other words, the possibility of realizing nuclear abolishment has become “common sense” in the international community. A majority of nations have at last shared the principle that nuclear abolishment is the only way that averts the tragedy of destroying civilization per se. It has been more than half a century since the first-ever address was given by hibakusya, the surviving victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

Nuclear weapons are foreign among conventional military forces, never beneficial for national defense of any nation and in any circumstances, and the threat of doing nothing but destroying civilization. Those things were already verified by a number of military experts, including commanding officers of nuclear missile forces of both U.S. and U.S.S.R., by 1996. (Statement on Nuclear Weapons by International Generals and Admirals, December 5, 1996.)

It was, however, challenging to infiltrate this principle into global peace movements. The New Agenda Coalition (NAC) was launched in 1998, and in the U.N. General Assembly in 1999 the NAC, composed of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, and Sweden, put forward a resolution “Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: the Need for a New Agenda”. It was approved by 111 states only, and its content was such a low-key tone as to call on the nuclear-weapon states for concrete arms control efforts.

Why have the circumstances changed? One of the most potent factors is the speech U.S. President Barack Obama delivered in Prague on April 5, 2009, in which he outlines his vision of a nuclear-free world. Many people in the world must have felt that he had reasonable grounds, as long as the person of paramount authority in the most powerful nuclear-weapon state announced the direction oriented toward nuclear abolishment. That “change in wavelength” must have made it easy for people to accept the principle that “nuclear abolishment is the condition of decisive importance for the continuation of human society”.

Except for Obama’s Prague speech, there has been no memorable event that had a substantial influence on global trends relate to nuclear issues over the past two decades. There was no remarkable nuclear proliferation and disarmament. The tense situation in the Middle East is continuing without finding a fundamental solution. Nevertheless, the issue of nuclear abolishment made significant progress. This speaks for the strong influence of the speech given by the American President who desires to achieve a nuclear-free world.

A principle, whatever it is, takes on significance socially and politically, only if it is being accepted by people. Yet, all in all, each and every individual’s understanding of a principle and the social recognition of it are the processes not necessarily parallel with each other. In an extreme case, most of people know little or nothing about Einstein’s theory, but through a variety of processes it has been common sense in society without realizing it. The same goes for Copernican heliocentric theory in the 16th century.

A similar process can be envisioned for the issue of the abolishment of nuclear weapons. The assertion of nuclear abolishment contains such an elaborate reasoning as “if we think rationally…” On the other hand, the assertion that “we have the right to possess powerful nuclear weapons on national-security grounds” is rough but direct, so that multilayered and logical persuasion is required to demolish it. It has not been easy to establish the understanding of the necessity of nuclear abolishment among peoples around the world.

On the other hand, Obama has had hardly any satisfactory results in the policy for nuclear abolishment. Although there was a slight reduction of the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons, the military policy depends on nuclear arms remains unchanged. There is even concern that the planned reduction of U.S. troops may increase the degree of the nuclear dependence. Obama seems to have lost his grip on the Prague speech domestically.

The “Trend toward Nuclear Abolishment” and “Power adheres to Nuclear Armaments” in the U.S.  

Originally, after the World War II, America’s political leaders have extended their influence and held a fort via the diplomacy backed by the tremendous nuclear capability. Therefore, nuclear capability is vital to their method of maintaining influence. On the contrary, even among them, there are a group of people who want to be rational. In fact, George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, who played leading roles in the Cold War, presented an article “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons” in the Wall Street Journal (January 4, 2007), and it was referred in Obama’s Prague speech as part of the grounds for the speech. The political struggle over the nuclear policy back then was between two groups; the political leaders who reasonably desiderated the security of their citizens and homeland, and of those who were afraid of the structural change in the politics and desired the maintenance of the status quo. This political conflict could not be treated superficially as that between the Democratic and Republican Parties, nor between liberals and conservatives. It should be viewed as reflecting the rivalry between personal faiths or feelings among those who are in a position to lead the U.S. There is a grave dissension between rational appraisal and irrational belief in American society. One of the reflections of this is the difficult situation in gun control in the U.S.

 In some of conservatives, there must be hard-line group of those who are willing to make sure of their rights, titles and interests by whatever means necessary. It is reasonable to believe that they are putting their agents in and close to the government agencies, military organizations, etc. They could certainly handle the regime change with dexterity, and so, even now, it seems that they are carefully constructing a framework for a plan to develop, upgrade and maintain nuclear weapons so as to ensure they benefit from that. Not only in the U.S. but also in the other nuclear-armed states, there are such hawkish people who adhere to possession of nuclear weapons. They are “nuclear hawks” who attain to power in the political system that depends on nuclear armament. Here, let us get one thing clear. American nuclear hawks will achieve a goal by fair means or foul. They play hard. We should not forget that the Bush government made up a story of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear capability so as to convince the American people of opening a war with Iraq, and that the calamitous war caused some 4500 military deaths on the American side alone.  

The excuse for possessing nuclear weapons is “deterrence”, where nuclear weaponry is considered a major contributor to preventing war. In this case, they believe that: the more there is a threat of a war that must be prevented, the more persuasive is the argument. In fact, during the Cold War era, the nuclear arms race was driven forward on both sides by pushing propaganda of the horrific images an imminent danger of thermonuclear attack by the enemy’s side. That doctrine of deterrence is now obsolete. The situation that one of the five nuclear powers lapses into a critical moment and plunges into nuclear war will result in the end of human civilization. This recognition is now mutual among the five. Any scenario that makes an allowance for the use of nuclear weapons by them is hardly imaginable. Their excuse now is a lame one, saying we cannot eliminate the possibility that a limited nuclear war may escalate to a major nuclear exchange. The situations likely regarded as the grounds for possessing nuclear weapons, in which a potential nuclear war is not unthinkable, are the Indo-Pakistani conflict, Iran-Israeli conflict, and potential threat of North Korea’s nuclear capability. As to the first two, I am not able to make tenable discussions. Here I shall give an analysis of a potential nuclear war in the Far East and the political situation in Japan.  

Basic Structure of Japan-U.S. Relations

Since the 1970s, successive Prime Ministers in Japan have continued to visit the White House at least once every year. In contrast, since 1974, the number of the American President’s visits to Japan, except those for attending summits and funerals, is less than 10 times for about four decades. If the Japan-U.S. relationship had been healthy and on even ground, this “imbalance” could never have happened. In other words, the Japanese government has been subjugated by the U.S. government. It is completely rational to conclude based on observation, that the U.S. has long been developing a mechanism for maneuvering Japan’s political power brokers since the Allied occupation of Japan at the end of World War II. There must be some sort of “U.S. machine” is able to manipulate Japanese politics enduringly in order to secure and maintain U.S. national interests. Otherwise, it could be impossible that an independent nation like Japan has faithfully followed the U.S. government almost totally in essence for more than six decades.  

Meanwhile, the Japanese government was occasionally caught between the Japanese people and U.S. government, such as when negotiating the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, U.S.-Japan economic conflict, etc. In each case, the Japanese government chose a way of stepping back from the problem by making a variety of excuses instead of opposing the U.S. government. Under such circumstances, the U.S. machine has succeeded in infiltrating and entrenching the protective structure called “nuclear umbrella” as the backbone of Japanese defense policy.  

From 1955 to 2009, the Japanese government had always been in the hands of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) and so utterly dominated by LDP-affiliated politicians for such a long time, so much so that the U.S. government’s control over Japanese politics must have been done through the manipulation of LDP-affiliated politicians and high government officials. In Japanese politics, no important policy has ever been made nor executed without some kind of approval or support from the U.S. The Japanese government has been rendering the U.S. Yokosuka, some 40 miles south of the capital Tokyo, as a U.S. Navy base, homeport of a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. This situation is essentially no different from that of Beijing at the end of the Qing dynasty in China in the 19th century. However, the government, officials, the media, critics, including right-wing ones, and, a great many Japanese people do not express discomfort with this fact. That is to say, the “hegemony” of the U.S. government in Japanese politics is part of everyday life in Japan.  

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 which began in the U.S. crushed the Japanese economy. The LDP administration became unable to deal with the crisis and got a pounding in the 2009 general election. As a result, the power was moved to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) which consisted only of inexperienced politicians. They are of poor political insight and not well enough equipped to conciliate bureaucrats. Instead bureaucrats cajoled them. It was obvious that the DPJ administration would not last long. On March 11, 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and meltdowns at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant occurred. A majority of the population learned “the safety myth of the nuclear power plans” was a false story. The leaks of contaminated cooling water got out of control at the Fukushima I Plant. The Japanese people frightened by the radioactive environmental contamination on an unprecedented scale gradually converged on “no nuke plants” in Japan. In a June 2011 opinion poll (the Asahi Shimbun, June 13, 2011), 74% of the respondents answered, “Japan should phase out nuclear power generation and break with it in the future.” The DPJ could have stayed in power if before the end of 2011 the DPJ administration publicized a policy of dismantling nuclear power generation, formed a committee for the post-disaster restoration by assembling all influences to support this policy, and raked the LDP over the coals for misleading the people about the safety of the nuclear plans.

The “U.S. machine” must have wanted to avoid Japan breaking with nuclear power generation. To keep Japan taking shelter under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” is one of its important assignments, and the existence of nuclear power plants in Japan is one of the requisites for this protective structure. Even if an enemy attack was non-nuclear, once a nuclear power plant was destroyed by the attack, the consequence would be as disastrous as that of a nuclear attack. Therefore, a nation of retaining nuclear power stations as well as a nation of possessing nuclear weapons would seek for a deterrent strategy to dissuade adversaries from launching an offensive, regardless of the nuclear capabilities of the adversaries. This state of things inevitably makes it impossible for the Japanese government to break away from the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Though I have no way to know what really happened in Japan during that period, it turned out that in 2011 and the first half of 2012 the DPJ administration failed to politically grasp the will of the people. It had been a do-nothing government. In September, 2012, one and a half years after the Fukushima I Nuclear Disaster, the DPJ administration finally established its policies on nuclear energy. “All available policy resources will be mobilized to achieve zero dependence on nuclear power by the decade of the 2030s.” “No new nuclear power facilities will be built and no existing facilities will be expanded.” “Strict application of the 40-year limit to operation of reactors,” said the DPJ. But it was too late. A vast majority of the Japanese people already gave up on the DPJ by that time.  

Policy of the Abe Administration toward Nuclear Power Generation

At any rate, toward the 46th general election of the House of Representatives, the DPJ added the policies toward the abolishment of nuclear power generation, though ambiguous, to its election pledges. The LDP, however, did not seriously take up the problem of nuclear power generation in its energy policy. If I translate the related lines in the 2012 platform as literally as I can, it said, “Regarding the safety of nuclear energy, we will put the highest priority on the professional judgment of an independent regulatory authority. Regarding the propriety of resuming operation of nuclear power plants, we will make judgments in order of precedence and aim to reach conclusions on all nuclear power plants within three years. Regarding safety, we will leave it to the professional judgment of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.” The LDP was playing the fox. What is “independent regulatory authority” exactly? The controversial topic was avoided neatly with “three years” to spare. “Regarding safety” of what? The then-ruling DPJ missed out the chance to hit and is to blame for that.  

In the general election held on December 16, 2012, the LDP swept to victory with 294 seats. The LDP increased its Diet seats to more than 400, 56% of the total, but there remained only 4 anti-nuke members among them (the Tokyo Shimbun “Kakushin”, September 16, 2013). The LDP-led government took office on December 26, 2012. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then began practicing deception on the people bit by bit to resume operation of nuclear power plants. 

Immediately after Abe took office, Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who is in charge of both trade and energy policies, told a news conference, “We need to reconsider the previous administration’s policy that aimed to make zero nuclear power operation possible during the 2030s”. And Abe on the other emphasized the importance of Japan’s economic recovery. “A strong economy is the source of energy for Japan. Without regaining a strong economy, there is no future for Japan,” said Abe (BBC “Japan says it will review plans to abandon nuclear power”, December 27, 2012).  

At the 125th Session of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) held on September 7, 2013, Abe announced to the world: Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.” How dare he say that? His “lie” was obvious for the Japanese people kept informed by media coverage about continued spills of heavily radiation- contaminated water almost every day. The situation is nowhere close to its “stability”. But he already knew that many of the Japanese who wished to host the Olympic Games would not express strong objection to his speech. And, he was right about it. Many of the Japanese, especially of those in Tokyo, must have felt guilty about it from the bottom of their hearts. Abe subjected innocent people to his “spin” under favor of the Session of the IOC. As a consequence, the swell of Japanese people pushing the government for the abolishment of nuclear power plants gradually lowered its fever.  

Another spin the Abe administration put on resuming operation of nuclear plants is the reinstallation of “the myth of nuclear safety”. In the upper house election held on July 21, 2013, Abe’s LDP put forward a policy to resume operation of nuclear power plans. It said, “Regarding the safety of nuclear power plants, we will leave it to the professional judgment of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. On that basis, as to the nuclear power plants which are deemed to be safe, Japan will responsibly make every effort to gain the understanding of local governments.” It is not fair to say that “the nuclear power plants which are deemed to be safe,” implying a fallacious conception that a nuclear power plant is safe by nature. The truth is, of course, a nuclear power plant is never safe because of its physical nature.  

While the Fukushima I nuclear disaster is in progress, the Abe administration is repeatedly putting misleading statements and going to make the decision of resuming operation of nuclear power plants.The political risk of this is extremely high for the administration. At the Fukushima I nuclear power plant, a huge amount of high-level radiation-contaminated water is preserved in a number of fragile tanks. If an earthquake strong enough to destroy those tanks occurred there, it might cause irreparable environmental damage that would exceed that of March 11, 2011. That level of earthquake can be triggered off by almost anything. In that event, the Abe administration stuck to the policy to resume operation of nuclear power plants will vanish in one swoop. It is, as it were, skating on thin ice. On the contrary, if the Abe administration, which is backed comfortably by a two-thirds majority in Diet, publicized a policy to abandon nuclear power generation, Abe’s political might would have grown immeasurably. In that event, Abe can easily achieve his personal desire to amend the Constitution. There is no way to suppose that a politician like Abe who took the top slot was unaware of that political situation. Nevertheless, the Abe administration made a run for continuing Japan’s dependency on nuclear power generation and early resumption of nuclear power plants, which does not improve Abe’s administration, rather it carries risk. What’s the reason of it? What’s the rush? There must be some “influence” closely behind the Abe administration. It staged the appearance of the Abe government and is forcing the government to swallow its plans. And it must be the “U.S. machine” because it is the only possible influence that has both the reason to control the Japanese government and the coercive power to do so.

Special Secrecy Law

The second Abe Cabinet swept to the board again in the July 21 2013 Upper House election and solidified its position as planned. Then the first important bill the Cabinet planned to pass the Diet was the bill for allowing the government to designate defense information as “special secrecy”. The bill was put on the agenda out of the blue on October 25, 2013, under the pretext of establishing a system to have classified information sent from Japan’s closest allies – the U.S. in concrete terms. This pretext is not true, however. Any information sent to other nation, even if it is a friendly one, would no longer be secret and that is the principle of information control between nations. Therefore, it is not reasonable to suppose that a nation like the U.S. will give Japan the information that may hurt its national interest in case of leakage. The provision of information will be concluded in terms of U.S. national interest, and so the information leakage may occur on the Japanese side will be little matter for the U.S. It is a childish explanation that Japan cannot obtain important information from the U.S. if this bill did not pass. When the new Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 1960, a secret pact between the two nations on the entry of nuclear weapons in Japan too was initialed. Since then, the existence of the secret pact was kept secret from the Japanese public completely for 40 years until the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) discovered it in a library of the NARA (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) in 2000. Information concealment has been one of the pet subjects of the Japanese government. So it was even clear for politicians in the ruling parties that the legislative proceedings for the further enhancement of concealing government’s information were not necessary.

What mattered to the Abe administration was to enact the Special Secrecy Law while it is in power and its political stance on that was something extraordinary. The bill was opposed by a large majority of domestic media, consultants, intellectuals such as lawyers, and the majority of the public. According to an opinion poll conducted by Kyodo News on October 26 and 27, 2013, a majority 50.6% of respondents disapproved of the bill, with 35.9%. approved of the bill; a large majority 82.7% of respondents said they would give careful consideration to the bill, and 12.9% said pass the bill immediately. This bill was forsaken by everybody. So far, in the case where the government tried to go ahead with policy or legislation to which there was  nation-wide stiff opposition, there was always some opposition from within. There were yet some within the LDP who called for individualism and liberalism, and, in the light of their attitude to politics so far, it was clear for them that this bill could not be tolerated, rather they would lose the trust of their supporters if they were passive and made no resistance. However, they all became silent and the bill was approved by the majority of the ruling parties in the House of Representatives. The deliberations of the bill took a total of 68 hours in both houses of Representatives and Councillors, which is less than half that of important bills in recent years, such as those under the Junichiro Koizumi administration, first Abe administration and DPJ administration.

Japan-U.S. Relation of Making the Special Secrecy Law

The Abe administration’s extraordinary political attitudes to passing the bill inclined not only domestic media but also foreign media to think Abe a right-wing fascist. The New York Times editorial published on October 29, 2013, said, “This move reflects the confrontational stance the Abe government has been taking toward China and another sign of a hawkish foreign policy that may well harm civil liberties and create even more mistrust of the Japanese government in East Asia.” Asian countries have recognized Prime Minister Abe to be a classical militarist. The negative effect of the bill on the Japanese economy was inevitable, as it was unwelcomed by all but a very few of Japan’s right-wing businesses. It was even unwelcome by the economic circles backing the LDP. If Abe’s personal belief were to build a totalitarian state, for him to exhibit such political stance revealing his ambition as soon as he took office was  unadvisable. He must have recognized this. Notwithstanding, the Abe administration rammed the bill through the Diet as if the matter brooks no delay. Their political stance may do harm, but will never be a gain to the Abe administration or the LDP.

The policy action taken by the Abe government and ruling parties is brash, aggressive and unusually concerted, and to take such action a broad and powerful leadership is necessary, and to exercise such a leadership in politics it must have an ascendancy over all leading politicians in the ruling parties. And it is politic to judge such an ultimate authority to be nothing else than the “U.S. machine” that has been on top of Japanese politics for years. However, there seems no reason for the Obama administration to pass the bill by manipulating Japanese politics this brashly and aggressively during this period. By so doing, the Japanese people will think that the Obama administration is forcing Japan to have the political system to which a large majority of intellects and the Japanese media are adverse. This hurts Obama’s adorable prestige as the champion of democracy and leader who builds a free and equal civil society, let alone America’s reputation as the Japan’s closest ally. It was unwise for the Obama administration to allow the Abe administration to ram through the bill on the pretext of America’s request. It may do harm, but will never be a gain to the Obama administration or the U.S. national interest.  

With all things considered, one of “their” reasons to enact the Special Secrecy Law in Japan is to warn against the Obama administration’s policy change. They are war hawks, or nuclear hawks, to be exact, so they don’t want Obama to proceed to a path toward “a nuclear-free world”. They undermine the Obama administration. There is no way to know whether a splinter group with the “U.S. machine” bought about the fall of the DPJ and the inauguration of the Abe administration, and there isn’t much point in nosing for it. There is also no way to know when the White House has sensed something has gone wrong in manipulating the Japanese government either. Regardless, the Obama administration must have sensed the unusual during the process of establishing the Special Secrecy Law so why did the “U.S. machine” plan do so with knowledge of that risk during this period?  

“U.S. Machine’s” Impatience

The discrimination, exploitation, intervention and domination in African countries, and Islamic countries in the Middle East enforced by U.S. and European large logistics companies are already beyond the bounds of people’s patience. The modernization of production in China – being proud of its huge populations, vast extent of land, affluent resources, and highly-developed civilization – will compulsively revolutionize the World Economy, whether or not the results are positive. It is obvious now that the late 20th century world order regulated by the five nuclear weapons nations will not last. People in the world are no longer ignorant about these international situations and no longer are they living in fear of the nuclear powers. Vast numbers of people even those who are staring death in the face know that if they take action now despite the consequences they will cause change. During this time, as stated above, the pendulum of international opinion on nuclear weapons was just going to swing toward “a nuclear-free world”. That swing, if not a swingback, will go forth at a stroke as a global trend. If the support for the Obama’s doctrine for “a nuclear-free world” grew across the world, the “U.S. machine” would have no chance to survive. They have approached a critical stage.

The U.S. has been recognized and also recognizing itself as the protector of Japan, so that, during this time, if Japan played an important role to increase “nuclear tensions” in the Far East, the “nuclear-free world” doctrine advocated by the American President would lose its authority at once. The Special Secrecy Law in Japan is a deep-laid scheme to embed Japan in “nuclear tensions” in the Far East.  

Special Secrecy Law and Nuclear Program

 In Japan, there already accumulates more than 200 metric tons of plutonium produced International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at the end of 2013, Japan has 44.2 metric tons of unirradiated plutonium, of which only 9.3 tons is held in Japan and the rest 34.9 tons in the UK and France, and 159 tons of plutonium contained in spent fuel. Still, 9.3 tons of unirradiated plutonium held in Japan is equivalent to 1,500 Nagasaki-type atomic bombs – 6.2 kg of plutonium was used for “Fat Man”. While nuclear reactors are operating, the configuration of produced plutonium and management conditions vary, so that IAEA’s monitoring may not be complete. That circumstance gives rise to “suspicion” of the diverted use of plutonium for making atomic bombs and that suspicion cannot be fully removed from the international community.

In fact, China expressed its concerns this year. According to the website of the Consulate General of China in Brisbane, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong said in a press briefing on March 17, 2014, “Japan now keeps a large stockpile of sensitive nuclear materials in the country, including weapons-grade plutonium and uranium that can be directly used to produce nuclear weapons, and the quantity is far beyond Japan’s actual normal demand. This has aroused widespread concerns and worries in the international community.”

Then, the suspicion will rise into a breaking point if the Special Secrecy Law comes into force in Japan. If a nuclear weapons program is designated as a matter of national defense by the law, the Japanese government may refuse any question about it, and not only that, but may answer that all nuclear-related matters cannot be opened. Thus far, the Japanese government has, in principle, firmly maintained the Diet Resolution so-called “Three Non-Nuclear Principles,” the principles prohibit the “possession, production and entry” of nuclear weapons in the country, and that has been guaranteed by the Japanese people who experienced Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the government downplayed the three principles even if only slightly, the people showed no mercy. That political framework has been firm in Japan. However, by the Special Secrecy Law, the Japanese government may block nuclear-related information. In that event, even if there is a Japanese government’s fraudulent conduct contrary to its “three principles” and official stance that “desires to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons – however under a nuclear umbrella”, the Japanese people are unable to get access to supporting information to accuse the government. At least, the countries and peoples in the Far East cannot help judging that Japan has fallen into such a political situation as “nuclear secrecy”. In that event, regardless of the existence of a nuclear weapons program in Japan, the countries of the Far East are compelled to give proper attention to Japan on the assumption of Japan’s nuclear weapons program. That is a path to “nuclear proliferation”, let alone to increasing “nuclear tensions”.

 As discussed thus far, the Special Secrecy Law is a strategic setup. As the opposition parties, media, antinuclear groups, and others investigate the government’s control of nuclear materials, the government’s answers to their questions themselves work for the intimidation effect caused by nuke. That is, even if the government’s answers are not positive ones to a nuclear weapons program, the existence of such is not necessarily deniable for the questioners because of the Special Secrecy Law. This is a kind of intimidation. Thus, Japan obtains its own “nuclear deterrence”. It makes no deference to this situation whether or not Japan is going with a nuclear weapons program in back room. If Japan had a “black hole” named Special Secrecy Law, every variety of nuclear-related information would be sucked into it. Under such circumstances, Japan’s science and technology display their teeth equivalent of possessing nuclear weapons. That is why Science Council of Japan (SCJ) issued a 1954 statement to call for nuclear science and technology to be based on the fundamental principles of autonomy, democracy and openness, and that was incorporated into the Atomic Energy Basic Law. The Abe administration is digging the grave of those principles by means of politics. “Nuclear tensions” in the Far East are expected to exacerbate as a corollary. The global trends toward nuclear abolishment might be forced to pull back.

Abe Administration as Nuclear Hawks’ Mercenary Troops

The Abe administration, just as it was launched, repeatedly made statements to provoke China and South Korea on historical issues. The Japanese media was reporting the schedule of the Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which obviously will increase historical tensions with China and South Korea.  

On October 2-3, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Japan for extensive talks with Japanese leaders. On October 3, they visited Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery and paid their respects laying wreath. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), they became the most senior foreign dignitaries to visit there, since the Argentinian president in 1979. AFP reported: A cemetery official told AFP the visit had been instigated by the U.S. and had not come about as a result of a Japanese invitation. U.S. defense officials said the cemetery was Japan’s “closest equivalent” to Arlington National Cemetery (AFP “Kerry, Hagel lay wreath at Japan’s national cemetery”, October 3, 2013). In other words, the White House sent a clear message to Tokyo in front of the Japanese people and its neighbors, saying the White House is opposing the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.  

Then, Vice President Joe Biden made a six-day trip to Japan, China and South Korea to discuss a full range of bilateral, regional and global issues. During the trip, on December 3, 2013, Vice President Biden and Prime Minister Abe gave joint statements to the press, in which they made negative remarks on establishing East China Sea air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, by China. That is to say, Biden offered Abe those remarks so as to allow Abe to reconsider his visit to the shrine.  

The White House must have been confident about calling off the visit. However, on December 26, 2013, thirteen days after the promulgation of the Special Secrecy Law, Prime Minister Abe went ahead with the visit and turned his back on the White House publicly. In the history of Japan-U.S. relation this is, as far as I know, the first time the White House was affronted this much by the Tokyo side. It is impossible that conservative politicians in Japan can resist the U.S. government’s intention unless they have support from the power counterbalancing the White House within the U.S. Therefore, this process was a political anomaly that displayed clear signs of the Abe administration being, as it were, mercenary troops working for “nuclear hawks”. The Abe administration’s defiant attitude toward the White House was a nuclear hawks’ declaration of hostility against President Obama with making their appearance in Japan clearer than ever before.

Thus far, the Japanese government has taken great care of not to go beyond the bounds of U.S. government’s accepted limits when officially and externally announcing its positive stance for nuclear disarmament. The White House must have been accustomed to it. It is not strange that the White House was not expecting Tokyo to express its intention that could shake the foundation of the Obama’s doctrine for “nuclear-free world”. In actuality, the Japanese government has officially been holding on its positive stance for nuclear disarmament both domestically and internationally and will keep that stance in the future as well. The Special Secrecy Law is an infrastructual device that makes even those official stance expressions very doubtful ones.  

White House

The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) is the almost only international event President Obama takes lead in achieving a nuclear-free world. In the 2014 NSS held in the Netherlands, President Obama and Prime Minister Abe said that Japan will turn over all highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium – held at Tsukuba Tokai-mura Facilities for studying the nuclear physics of so-called fast reactors – to the U.S. (Reuters “U.S. to help in ‘elimination’ of sensitive Japanese nuclear stockpile”, March 24, 2014). The White House seems to have wanted to show its muscles to take control of the maybes for Japan’s nuclear weapon program for the moment.

 After the 2014 NSS, Obama was asked by a reporter to respond to Mitt Romney’s opinion that Russia is the U.S.’ “number one geopolitical foe,” and answered, “Russia’s actions ‘are a problem,’ but ‘they don’t pose the number one national security threat to the U.S.’” He continued, “I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan,” (USA Today “Obama’s worry: A nuke in Manhattan”, March 25, 2014). Obama said this at this time of continued turmoil of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. That should be treated as a gesture of Obama’s determination to maintain the stance to give priority to achieving a nuclear-free world.

The White House seems belatedly trying to stop “nuclear hawks’ corrosion” on the “nuclear-free world” doctrine. Prime Minister Abe will not have enough courage to stand squarely against the White House. He will behave according to instructions from nuclear hawks which will never show up in public. The White House then has to fight against nuclear hawks behind the scenes while confronting the Abe administration and machine in front.

Future Issues of Japan’s Antinuclear Movement

 Until now, the antinuclear movements in Japan were mainly to transmit the facts of A-bomb damage to the world and to call for nuclear abolishment from a humanitarian point of view. Those persistent efforts bare fruit and “nuclear abolishment” is becoming a global trend. It is therefore opportune that the Japanese anti-nuclear movement turns it’s attention and energy to the political arena and take part in the battle for nuclear free world. This is because they should show their leadership and engage with the Japanese government, who is becoming more of a mercenary pawn for the power brokers that want to adhere to a Nucleur Armanents regime. Just transmitting the A-bomb facts is not enough for the Japanese anti-nuclear movement leadership now. Only casting stones at the double standard of the Japanese government on a “no-nuke” policy might no longer be appreciated by the Japanese public. How do Japanese anti-nuclear groups deal with the possibility of the Japanese government’s nuclear weapons program?

What’s perplexing in this situation is the fact that we have the Obama administration on our side. The major struggles antinuclear movements and pacifist organizations in Japan waged until now were to protest against U.S.’s foreign policy relying on military might and nuclear threat. Put simply, a greater part of the antinuclear movements job was to criticize the U.S. government. That itself made sense and will continue in the future. According to the New York Times, Benjamin Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said, “We’ve shifted from a very military face on our foreign policy to a very diplomatic face on our foreign policy,” (the New York Times “Obama Signals a Shift from Military Might to Diplomacy”, November 25, 2013), but there seems no change on the U.S.’s habitual reliance on military might at least here in Japan. In fact, the problems of the U.S. military bases located in Japan are still imposing a heavy burden on the Japanese people.  

Under such conditions, Japanese anti-nuclear movement leadership must prevent the setback of the Obama’s “nuclear-free world” doctrine amid the Japan’s political turmoil. If one went by their feelings or was quick to judge, you might simply decide that the Obama’s doctrine for achieving “a world free from nuclear weapons” was a sham from the beginning. However, if the Democratic Party calls off the Obama’s doctrine in the campaign for the next U.S. Presidential Elections, or if a Republican candidate is against “nuclear abolishment”, then “nuclear abolishment” becomes remote. If the Japanese government is partly responsible for that policy or regime change, I think that Japan’s anti-nuclear movement cannot escape from its responsibility for this outcome.

  (This communication was, originally in Japanese, posted on a website, April 16, 2014 , calling for attention to the potential Japanese nuclear armament. The development in Japan politics so far is not contradictory. Furthermore, Abe government nullified the war-renouncing article in the constitution.)

The Bottom Line on Obama’s Historic Hiroshima Visit

On May 27, 2016, President Obama visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, accompanied by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and commemorated the victims of the atomic bomb by a moment of silence and floral tribute. He gave a speech of ten minutes or so after that. It has been reviewed many ways since then. I have no intention to discuss those but will simply put my opinion on it alongside of this article.

As discussed, Mr. Obama de facto became American President on his basal political mission to disarm nukes. That was shown by his Plague speech in 2009. Therefore, the handling of the conflict with nuclear hawks has been his grand political agenda and a host of problems, such as Iran nuclear deal, Afghan War, Syrian Civil War, domestic health care reform, European migrant crisis, etc., have been the subject for the circumstantial struggles with nuclear hawks. In other words, all were the materials for political power games. Among those, Japan’s Abe administration has demonstrated its policy to undermine the Obama’s political agenda by means of making a parade of Japan’s own force de frappe in Asian nations. The White House must have bitterly confronted the nuclear hawks that have been issuing directives to Abe administration.

This time’s Obama’s Hiroshima visit is, after all, indicative of his victory in the political rule in Japan and success in making Abe administration being off with the hawks for the meantime. I think one of the most important pars in Obama’s Hiroshima speech is: “It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart.” I read this not only literally but also contextually. It should be treated as that the American President committed himself on the issue—Hiroshima victims, nuclear weapons, nuclear war are crucially different from conventional ones. It could be his cry of woe, saying conventional armed war, though not good, may well never vanish but we should never allow nuclear one.

On the other hand, Mr. Abe said, “We surely bring the world without nuclear arms into reality. The road to it may be long and tough but we continue our effort to it and that is the responsibility for us living in the present. I, along with President Obama, have pledged it. That is the only way to respond to full many a departed soul. I firmly believe so.”

By this statement, the concern for Japan’s nuclear program became remote at the moment. The credit should go to President Obama.

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