July 11, 2012: Noda seeks Japan's right to exercise collective self-defense. Asahi Shimbun http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201207100264.html
[Excerpt] Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda expressed his willingness to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, an issue that could further split the ruling party but would likely find support from the main opposition party.
Majia here: I am going to repost an excerpt from an article I looked at a couple of weeks ago now as it has relevance for Japan's "right to exercise collective self-defense":
Mainichi: Atomic energy law's sly alteration is abuse of legislative processhttp://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20120626p2a00m0na004000c.html
[excerpted] "The Atomic Energy Basic Law was amended in the shadows of the hoopla surrounding the three-party agreement on a tax hike. The new clause allows the possibility of nuclear armament open to interpretation. It was an underhanded deal, in which an amendment to the Atomic Basic Law was merely incorporated into the appendix of a law on the establishment of a nuclear regulatory panel....
....Only at a meeting of an upper house environmental committee on June 20, when a DPJ lawmaker questioned whether nuclear arms development was the purpose of passing the bill, did it become public that a clause in the Basic Law had been revised.....
....the appendix in question adds a sentence stating Japan's atomic energy policy should contribute to national security.
What constitutes "national security?"....
What constitutes "national security?"....
....A deputy press secretary of South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also said that the ministry is "watching the situation closely."....
...."It probably comes down to the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant," said a bureaucrat with whom I've been acquainted for years. "If the country moves toward the abandonment of nuclear power, that facility will lose meaning. If it is legally granted legitimacy as a facility for the military use of nuclear materials, then it can continue to exist. I believe that there were LDP lawmakers who thought of that, and bureaucrats who supported them...
...The Atomic Energy Basic Law went into effect in 1955, the same year that the LDP was founded. Fifty-seven years have since passed, and we are moving further and further away from democratic, independent and public disclosure principles. (By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)
Majia here: Japan's collective self defense is looking ever more like nuclear defense.
See My blog post on Japan's stockpiling of plutonium
Here is an excerpt from some of my research concerning this subject:
One important question that persists about Japan’s nuclear industry is its links to a secret weapons program. For decades Japan has been stockpiling more plutonium than it could use in a breeder reactor program or for mixed oxide fuel containing plutonium. In America’s Nuclear, Wayne LeBaron notes that in 1993 Japan was expected to receive 30 freighter size shipments of plutonium from Europe over 20 years for reprocessing. Japan also purchased plutonium from Russia (225). In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Junzaburo Takahi, a scientist with Japan’s Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, and Baku Nishio, a staff member of that organization, describe Japan’s “fake plutonium shortage”:[i]
The Japan Atomic Energy Commission decided last December 12 to use ships to
bring plutonium extracted in France and Britain back to Japan. A week later, the
Japanese government assigned the Maritime Safety Agency to escort the plutonium and allocated an initial 8.3 billion yen ($54 million U.S.) from the 1989 supplementary budget to construct an escort vessel. The shipments are scheduled to begin in 1992, after construction of the 6,500-ton armed escort vessel is completed at a total cost of 20 billion yen ($130 million)….
The rationale for purchasing this plutonium was never disclosed, beyond Japan’s use of it in its civilian energy program.
As of 2010, Japan had more than 46 tons of separated plutonium stored domestically and in Europe.[ii] As mentioned previously Joseph Trento claims the inventory actually ranges upward to 70 tons of plutonium. Japan’s Mox recycling program has been limited.[iii] Japan’s newly completed Rokkasho reprocessing plant enables even greater stockpiling of plutonium. Japan seems to have more plutonium stored than needed for its limited Mox program given the decision to discontinue the breeder reactor program.
Japan’s decision to resume plutonium processing in early 2012 when all nuclear reactors in the country had been idled was puzzling. This decision was made during a secret meeting stacked with nuclear industry officials and scientists close to that industry.[iv] The secrecy of this meeting produced public outrage in Japan, leading even to editorials in The Mainichi decrying the secrecy and demanding an investigation.[v]
Piers Williamson published an essay in the Asia Pacific Journal summarizing speeches delivered May 31, 2012 by Professors Frank von Hippel (Princeton University) and Gordon MacKerron (University of Sussex) on the issues associated with Japan’s reprocessing and stockpiling nuclear fuel.[vi] Williamson notes that Japan’s stockpile of plutonium would enable it to make five thousand nuclear warheads. Although Japan (purportedly) does not currently have a nuclear weapons program, it could easily produce one given the nation’s technological sophistication and its vast stockpile of plutonium. Von Hippel observed that Japan’s persistence in reprocessing is counter to international trends and its arguments for the need for reprocessing “appear flimsy.” Japan’s insistence on enriching uranium raises questions: “No one takes Japan’s plans to quickly use its ‘stockpile’, or rather ‘surplus’, as credible. As Prof. von Hippel has commented elsewhere, ‘There is a real credibility problem here.’7
Joseph Trento argues that the United States circumvented its own and international laws in order to assist Japan’s efforts to stockpile plutonium. Trento contends that Japan has actually developed nuclear weapons under the cover of its nuclear utility companies. Although Trento’s thesis cannot be easily proven without doubt he does provide documentation of U.S. military concerns about Japan developing a secret nuclear weapons program. Furthermore, it is interesting that in 2010 Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated that nuclear deterrence is necessary for Japan, rejecting Hiroshima mayor, Akiba’s plea that Japan cede U.S. nuclear protection.[vii] Kan reiterated Japan’s adherence to the three non-nuclear principles against production, possession and introduction of nuclear weapons in Japan, but would not support or sign legislation that would make the principles law. On June 23, 2012, The Mainichi, a prominent Japanese newspaper, argued in an editorial that a national security clause embedded into Japan’s Atomic Energy Basic Law passed on June 20, 2012 must be deleted:
The amendment has fueled speculations about its true aim. Some wonder whether the interpretation of the clause could be stretched to open the way for nuclear weapons development. Others question whether the clause is aimed at underscoring the effectiveness of the development and use of atomic power for nuclear power plants and other purposes....[viii]
The clause was added by Japan’s largest opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Mainichi reports “Some LDP legislators insist that Japan should maintain its high-level nuclear technology and demonstrate to the world its capability to develop nuclear weapons as a potential deterrent, linking atomic energy to national security.” It would appear that Japan’s nuclear energy program is at least in principle tightly coupled with its nuclear weapons designs. The lack of transparency about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the unwillingness to seek international aid may be a function of this tight coupling.
[i] Junzaburo Takagi and Baku Nishio Japan’s Fake Plutonium Shortage. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 46(8), 34-38.
[ii] Suzuki, 59.
[iii] Suzuki, 59.
[iv] Atomic Energy panel members call for independent probe into secret meetings. Mainichi (2012, May 29) http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120529p2a00m0na010000c.html.
[v] These editorials were re-published by the Asia Pacific Journal June 3, 2012 with the original titled found in the Mainichi The Black Box of Japan's Nuclear Power http://www.japanfocus.org/events/view/151.
[vi] Piers Williamson. Plutonium and Japan’s Nuclear Waste Problem: International Scientists Call for an End to Plutonium Reprocessing and Closing the Rokkasho Plant by http://japanfocus.org/-Piers-_Williamson/3766.
[vii] PM says nuclear deterrence necessary for Japan. BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific – Political (2010 August 6, 2010) http://www.lexisnexis.com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/.
[viii] National security clause must be deleted from law on atomic energy (Editorial). The Mainich (2012, June 23), http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20120623p2a00m0na009000c.html.