As the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki approach on August 6th and 9th, there is a surprising movement in Japan that is calling for the nation to be able to develop its own nuclear weapons. This comes at the same time, and in direct contrast to, the surging anti-nuclear power movement that is responsible for some of the largest government protests in Tokyo that Japan has ever seen. As the only nation on the planet to have had atomic weapons used against it, the official stance of Japan’s government, and them majority of the population, is renouncement.
But that isn’t stopping some politicians, like Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, from making the claim that nuclear plants should be viewed as military technology. Ishiba says the importance of working nuclear power plants is to show the rest of the world that Japan has nuclear weapons capabilities. The Defense Minister clarifies that of course Japan has no intentions to move ahead with such actions, but with North Korea’s suspected nuclear weapons development, the country needs portray the idea that it’s not moving in that direction by its own choice, not because of restrictions.
Tatsujiro Suzuki, the vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, which works to shape Japan’s nuclear policy, says that it’s not good for people to talk of such a connection between nuclear energy a weapons. The idea that having atomic bomb capabilities equals power is an outdated concept, and it sends the wrong message to the international community, Suzuki explains. The people of Japan made it at clear as possible to the government that they are opposed to the country’s continued use of nuclear power. If the Japanese government tries to move ahead with having the ability to make nuclear weapons, even if it’s only for appearances, it will only add to the notion that the people’s will is all but ignored.