|Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009
Many in DPJ want Japan to cut link to U.S. nukes
A survey of the Democratic Party of Japan's Lower House members has found that about 61 percent of respondents want Japan to leave the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
While 58.3 percent said Japan should try to end its reliance on the United States' nuclear arsenal in the future, 2.8 percent said they wanted Tokyo to do so immediately.
In contrast, 28.4 percent said Japan should remain under U.S. nuclear protection.
The Kyodo News survey was conducted on 308 members of the House of Representatives and drew responses from 211, or 68.5 percent, of them.
The findings suggest that a large number of DPJ lawmakers hope to craft a national security system that is not dependent on U.S. nuclear arms.
The survey also revealed that 87.2 percent of the respondents want the United States to ditch the first-strike option.
Some key DPJ lawmakers, including Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, support such a policy on the grounds that eliminating pre-emptive nuclear attacks will lessen the role of nuclear weapons for military purposes and lead to nuclear disarmament.
While the survey indicates a change in defense policy might be in the works under the new DPJ-led government, it remains unclear whether the administration can depart from current defense policy.
The Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled Japan for more than half a century with only a brief break in 1993, always considered the U.S. nuclear umbrella the cornerstone of Japanese defense policy.
But some in the DPJ are calling for the U.S. nuclear umbrella to be strengthened and want the nation's three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory to be reviewed because of the security threat from North Korea.
According to the survey, 1.9 percent of the respondents said Japan should enhance U.S. nuclear protection by adopting such means as sharing tactical nuclear arms.
As for the nation's three nonnuclear principles, 73.0 percent said the government should maintain them, 19.4 percent wanted them codified in law, and 4.7 percent argued they should be reviewed.