Over the last week, Japan's governmental authorities have insisted publicly that the nation has the constitutional right to possess nuclear weapons:
Abe Cabinet says Article 9 does not ban possessing, using N-weapons. THE ASAHI SHIMBUN April 2, 2016 http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604020026.htmlMajia here: The Japan Times essentially ran the same story:
The Abe Cabinet has decided that war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution does not necessarily ban Japan from possessing and using nuclear weapons.
In an April 1 written answer to opposition lawmakers in the Diet, the Cabinet also says the government “firmly maintains a policy principle that it does not possess nuclear weapons of any type under the three non-nuclear principles.” ...
Constitution does not specifically ban Japan’s use of nuclear weapons: Cabinet official JIJI Mar 19, 2016 http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/19/national/politics-diplomacy/constitution-not-specifically-ban-japans-use-nuclear-weapons-cabinet-official/#.Vu8df-aYJmwMajia here: At issue is Paragraph 2 of Article 9. According to the Asahi article above (first article), Article 9 does not preclude Japan from maintaining the minimum level of armed forces required for self-defense. Apparently, some within Japan's government feel that nuclear weapons are the minimum level of force required for self-defense. Hence, nuclear weapons are not precluded.
Japan’s Constitution does not necessarily ban the use of nuclear weapons, Yusuke Yokobatake, director-general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, said Friday.
“We don’t think that the use of all kinds of nuclear weapons is prohibited under the Constitution,” the head of the constitutional watchdog told the House of Councilors’ Budget Committee in response to a question from Shinkun Haku of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan.
But “the use of weapons, not just nuclear arms, is restricted under domestic and international laws,” Yokobatake also said, adding that the use of nuclear weapons by Japan is unrealistic.
However, even while articulating the constitutional grounds for Japan's capacity to possess nuclear weapons, governmental authorities insist the country does not, in fact, have them.
I have argued in my books, especially Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk (Palgrave, 2013) that Japan doesn't actually need to have nuclear weapons on hand (in complete form) as they have more than enough enriched uranium and plutonium and missile technology to assemble and deliver an arsenal of nuclear weapons sufficient to destroy most life on earth.
Remember that the Japanese pioneered just-in-time technology.