Calls grow for Japan to seek nuclear sharing arrangement

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet Building

Some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and opposition parties are calling for a discussion on seeking a nuclear sharing arrangement with the United States following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At a press conference on Tuesday, LDP General Council Chairperson Tatsuo Fukuda said: “The discussion should not be avoided if we are to protect our people and Japan, the only nation in the world that has experienced atomic bombings.”

Nuclear sharing is a concept in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s policy of nuclear deterrence under which nonnuclear NATO members such as Germany and Italy deploy U.S. nuclear weapons in their countries and operate them jointly with the United States.

Under a nuclear sharing arrangement, tactical nuclear weapons to target invading enemy forces would be deployed, not strategic nuclear weapons, which are used to target strategic sites such as large cities and military facilities.

Regarding the nation’s Three Non-Nuclear Principles of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons, LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson Sanae Takaichi said, “We should not shut down debate on making an exception for the principle of not permitting the introduction.”

The issue was recently raised by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said the debate on a nuclear sharing arrangement should not be considered a taboo subject.

Similar calls are growing among some opposition parties from the standpoint of contingency planning.

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) leader Ichiro Matsui called for discussions on a proposal for Japan to lease U.S. nuclear submarines, telling reporters on Monday, “Can we protect [the nation] if we only call for nuclear abolition?”

Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, followed suit, saying at a press conference on Tuesday that the Three Non-Nuclear Principles “should be thoroughly discussed.”

However, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has ruled out the idea of a nuclear sharing arrangement, saying, “It would not be permissible from the standpoint of Japan, which adheres to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles.”

The LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito supports the government’s position.