Thursday, December 20, 2012

How Nuclear Energy in Japan Got Linked to National Security

In 1955 Japan passed its Atomic Energy Basic Law, which allowed peaceful development of nuclear energy in a nation that had suffered two atomic bomb attacks. Public acceptance of nuclear power in Japan was remarkable given the time period. 

After World War II, Japan’s citizens were not enthralled with nuclear. Irradiation of Japanese fishermen in the Bikini Atoll in 1954 solidified strong anti-nuclear sentiments. However, one man played a vital role in shaping a strategic shift toward nuclear and the U.S. He also shaped Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, which is now back in power.

That man was Matsutaro Shoriki. He controlled the Yomiuri Shimbun and launched Japan’s first commercial television station. He founded the Liberal Democratic Party, which ran Japan for 55 years, at least, according to The Economist.

See Japan’s Citizen KaneA media mogul whose extraordinary life still shapes his country, for good and ill (2012, December 22)

Shoriki helped get Japan’s Atomic Energy Basic Law passed in 1955 and pushed to import US and UK reactors. Shoriki wanted nuclear energy to join the nuclear club and to helped solve Japan’s energy needs. 

Nuclear fulfilled two security needs, the need for energy and the need for the capability of a nuclear deterrent. But nuclear fulfilled this latter need covertly because Article 9 of Japan's Constitution bars the nation from a sovereign act of war.

Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution prohibits a national act of war. The article reads:

ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Nuclear power would allow Japan to meet the letter of the Constitution while having on hand the materials necessary for creating a nuclear deterrent for the purpose of Japan’s collective self-defense.


In 2008 Japan passed the Aerospace Basic Law of 2008, which allowed for technological developments in aeronautics for the purposes of national security. 

In June 2012, a national security clause was entered as an amendment to Japan’s Atomic Energy Basic Law, as explained in an editorial in The Asahi Shimbun:

A revision to the Atomic Energy Basic Law adding an appendix stating that nuclear power should “contribute to national security” has passed the Diet. Those words, which could provoke suspicions that Japan is planning to develop nuclear weapons, should be deleted in the next Diet session. Nuclear law's 'national security' clause must be dropped. The Asahi Shimbun (2012, June 22)

Now, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party is urging support for revoking Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. The Mainichi newspaper conducted a survey of new legislators regarding their support for eliminating the “war-renouncing” Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution:

About 72 percent of 473 newly elected House of Representative lawmakers support the idea of revising war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution and 78 percent of the legislators say the government should change its constitutional interpretation that currently forbids Japan from exercising the right of collective self-defense, according to a survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun… The approval of at least two-thirds of members of both houses of the Diet is needed to bring constitutional amendments before the Diet. Therefore the figure found in the survey meets the requirements of the lower chamber to initiate amendments to the Constitution. (72% of newly elected lawmakers want to revise war-renouncing Article 9 of Constitution. The Mainich 2012, December 18

 The Mainichi concluded that 90 percent of the LDP legislators favor revising Article 9 of the Constitution.

So, Japan’s nuclear energy complex is also its “defense” industry.

That is why the "nuclear village" in Japan is "smiling again" see here

Unfortunately, Japanese scientists have confirmed that Japan's prime defense industry plant, the reprocessing plant at Rokkasho, is sitting on an active fault. 

See Hasegawa, Kyoko Quake risk at Japan atomic recycling plant: experts. Pys.Org (2012, December 19)

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