The Yomiuri Shimbun weighs in

Having already written at length on the nuclear debate once today, I still feel the need to comment on the Yomiuri Shimbun‘s editorial today (in Japanese) — 「議論すら封じるのはおかしい」 (roughly, “It is laughable to even try to stifle the discussion.”

The Yomiuri argues, as I have elsewhere, that the debate is less about nuclear weapons and more about how Japan should contribute to international peace and security, and how it should respond to the growing North Korean threat. The editorial maintains that the three non-nuclear principles are outdated, a product of the cold war no longer appropriate given the evolving security environment in East Asia, and it concludes by saying that just as talk of constitutional reform was once taboo, such that any mention of which would result in a cabinet reshuffle, so must talk of nuclear weapons go from being taboo to being openly and earnestly debated.

Given that heads have yet to roll in this latest flap, clearly the power of nuclear taboo has been eroded, although it still retains some power.

Japan will not become a normal great power so long as restrictions remain upon even talking about radical changes to Japan’s security policy. Japan has yet to make an unambiguous statement of how it will exercise its power and contribute to regional and a global security; while nuclear weapons will most likely not be a part of that role, it is still important that Japan has an open debate in which any and all options are discussed — including acquiring nuclear weapons and distancing itself from the United States. It need not and should not embrace these options, of course, but so long as Japan remains bound by taboos and implicit restrictions, it will remain unable to contribute properly to global order.

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