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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 July 4 - 10  > Successive governments’ policy of holding onto U.S. nuclear strategy led to Kyuma’s remark
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2007 July 4 - 10 [SDF]

Successive governments’ policy of holding onto U.S. nuclear strategy led to Kyuma’s remark

July 4, 2007
Former Defense Minister Kyuma Fumio’s remark that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki “couldn’t be helped” has offended many Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) and put a damper on the international efforts for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He had to resign as the defense minister and Prime Minister Abe should be held responsible for siding with Kyuma in defiance of the public criticism.

The U.S. atomic bombings took the lives of more than 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki 62 years ago and are still killing many suffering Hibakusha. The bombings were an inhuman act in violation of international laws, and cannot be justified for any reason.

Why, then, did a cabinet minister of Japan, the only atom-bombed nation in the world that should take the lead in international efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, make such a remark, and why has the prime minister continued to defend him?

This is because not only Kyuma but also the entire Japanese government is taking a position that depending on the circumstances, the use of nuclear weapons “may be inevitable” or “may not be helped.”

The rise of advocates of nuclear armament

Successive Japanese governments have consistently supported U.S. nuclear strategy and have held onto the Japan-U.S. security alliance centering on “nuclear deterrence.” In the United Nations, Japan has advocated the “ultimate elimination” of nuclear weapons and turned its back on the international opinion calling for the swift abolition of such weapons. Japan has failed to take the clear position that nuclear arms are inhuman weaponry in violation of international laws.

In addition, advocates of nuclear armament are assuming greater prominence within the Liberal Democratic Party. Last year, in response to North Korean nuclear weapons tests, LDP Policy Research Council Chair Nakagawa Shoichi and Foreign Minister Aso Taro made remarks encouraging discussion on Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons.

Expressing alarm over such an argument in favor of Japan’s nuclear armament, the United States had Japan reaffirm the significance of the “U.S. nuclear umbrella” in a joint statement of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2 plus 2) in May, stating “The full range of U.S. military capabilities -- both nuclear and non-nuclear strike forces and defensive capabilities -- form the core of extended deterrence and support U.S. commitments to the defense of Japan.”

Kyuma himself in his speech delivered to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in October 2006 said, “Taking the present situation in Japan into account, it is better for Japan to be placed under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. It’s no good for Japan to become a nuclear state, but U.S. nuclear weapons are necessary to confront North Korea.”

No wonder he does not disavow the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki from which the U.S. nuclear strategy was started.

Trend of Abe Cabinet

Still, before Kyuma, there were no ministers who said, “The atomic bombings couldn’t be helped.”

Regarding Kyuma, a Defense Ministry official said, “He tends to speak of his own ideas because he is proud of himself being familiar with defense policies.” His personality could be one reason. However, this problem shows that repeated outrageous remarks by key officials in the Abe government and the LDP have broken down the necessary discipline of the cabinet.

Kyuma’s resignation cannot put an end to this problem. The entire Abe Cabinet must be held responsible for being unable to share the pain of the A-bomb victims. - Akahata, July 4, 2007
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