CNIC Response to North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Test Nuke Info Tokyo No. 115

Despite North Korea’s prior warning, its nuclear test came as a great shock in Japan. Once again, the question of whether Japan should acquire nuclear weapons raised its ugly head. At this stage it remains a debate about whether to have a debate. Prime Minister Abe quickly rejected proposals to discuss the issue, but his refusal to sack senior government politicians who continued to push for a debate has the effect of weakening the taboo.

Nevertheless, it would be premature to write off Japan as a lost cause. It is inconceivable that Japan will acquire nuclear weapons in the near future. However, the long term effect of North Korea’s nuclear test on the general public and on the political climate is a matter of great concern.

This page presents a couple of responses from CNIC.

Philip White (NIT editor)

Statement of Protest

Letter to Japanese Government

North Korea Nuclear Test: Statement of Protest
10 October 2006

For over half a century, human beings have been yearning for the elimination of nuclear weapons. All over the world people from all walks of life have been striving for this cause.

The nuclear weapon test conducted by North Korea on 9 October 2006 was a crushing blow to humanity’s fervent hope, held ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

We realize that there are already many countries which possess nuclear weapons. We also realize that there are people who recite the mantra of “peaceful use” to promote nuclear energy for the generation of electric power. Furthermore, we know very well that some people are in a great rush to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel at the huge Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Aomori Prefecture. However, depending on the circumstances, plutonium may at any time be turned into nuclear weapons.

We believe that nuclear weapons are the flip side of the “peaceful use” of nuclear energy. Unless the path to nuclear weapons (including the precursors to nuclear weapons) is absolutely prohibited, the world will be unable to achieve permanent peace.

We strongly protest North Korea’s nuclear weapon test. It is necessary to remind ourselves that human beings and nuclear energy, “peaceful” or otherwise, cannot coexist.

Yukio Yamaguchi (CNIC Co-Director)

Letter to the Japanese Government

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Foreign Minister Taro Aso
11 October 2006

On 6 September 2006, 48 citizens’ groups sent an appeal to the former Prime Minister, Jun’ichiro Koizumi, demanding that Japan oppose lifting Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) restrictions on nuclear trade with India. The contents of this appeal have become even more important since North Korea announced on October 9th that it had conducted a nuclear test. North Korea must not be given the impression that the criticism of India’s nuclear tests was just a passing phenomenon. Japan must firmly maintain the position that possessing nuclear weapons and conducting nuclear tests is unacceptable for all countries.

America wanted to make an exception for India, but as soon as the US-India deal surfaced, Pakistan, which also conducted a nuclear test in 1998, demanded that it too be exempted from NSG nuclear trade restrictions, and discussions between China and Pakistan about further nuclear cooperation have been gradually progressing in recent months. Moves to relax restrictions on nuclear trade with India and Pakistan may not be the direct cause of North Korea’s nuclear test, but they certainly would have given encouragement to North Korea. International rules should be followed on the assumption that exceptions cannot be limited to a single country – that exceptions will inevitably spread. If this principle is not adhered to, irreversible nuclear proliferation problems could arise.

We demand that the Japanese government uphold the non-proliferation system and that it not allow exceptions. At the same time as condemning North Korea’s nuclear test, Japan should also pursuade America and China not to make exceptions for India and Pakistan. We therefore repeat our demand for the Japanese government to oppose lifting NSG restrictions on nuclear trade with India.

Hideyuki Ban (CNIC Co-Director)

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