Political Influence on Japanese Nuclear and Security Policy: New Forces Face Large Obstacles
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Japan’s nuclear weapons policy has long enjoyed a stable, if somewhat internally inconsistent, equilibrium. Anti-proliferation efforts co-exist with reliance upon the United States’ nuclear deterrent, alongside dependence on a nuclear energy program robust enough to potentially support nuclear weapons capability. These policies have been promoted and maintained by Japan’s bureaucracy rather than by political bargains, with their bureaucratic proponents separately stovepiped rather than organized into a coherent whole. But new developments appear to leave Japan’s nuclear security policy – and its relations with the U.S. over this policy – in flux. New threats and changing public attitudes are gradually eroding taboos on nuclear weapons. New or newly energized political actors stand to amplify the impact of such public opinion shifts. A more actively nuclear Japan could destabilize the U.S.-Japan alliance, raise nuclear weapons levels in Asia, and undercut Japan’s role as a model nonnuclear ally; on the other hand, new anti-nuclear sentiment could hinder ongoing U.S.- Japan nuclear dialogue...
NPS Report Number2014-004
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