Commentary: The war in Ukraine forces Japan to reconsider its nuclear option

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Kishida quickly confirmed that Japan firmly adheres to the three non-nuclear principles adopted in 1967, not to possess, produce or allow the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japanese territory. These principles remain sacrosanct, even though Japan has made substantial deviations in defense and security over the past decade.

CHANGING SECURITY CONCERNS AND NEEDS

Abe’s comments can be understood in this context, which emanates from a rapidly changing strategic environment, both regionally and globally.

As prime minister, Abe introduced several policy initiatives that were unthinkable in previous decades, such as removing bans on defence-related exports, allowing Japan to work with allies and partners in self-defense. collective, establishing Japan’s first National Security Council (NSC). and the release of the first-ever National Security Strategy (NSS).

Not only did the Kishida government announce a planned update to the NSS, first published in 2013, but it also promised to revise the national defense program guidelines and the medium-term defense program published in 2013 and 2018. All of these updates and reviews are undertaken with a view to a rapid transformation of the strategic environment.

Kishida’s government is likely to go even further and consider acquiring strike capabilities to ensure Japan’s territorial integrity and the security of its people as well as to protect US military assets in Japan, including some 50,000 US defense personnel.

Long-standing self-imposed constraints on Japan’s defense spending, keeping it to less than 1% of gross domestic product, are also likely to soon be breached.

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