Japan pro-bomb voices grow louder amid nuclear debate
TOKYO (AP) - A contentious debate over nuclear power in Japan is also bringing another question out of the shadows: Should Japan keep open the possibility of making nuclear weapons - even if only as an option? It may seem surprising in the only country ever devastated by atomic bombs, particularly as it marks the 67th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki next week. The Japanese government officially renounces nuclear weapons, and the vast majority of citizens oppose them.
But as Japan weighs whether to phase out nuclear power, some conservatives, including some influential politicians and thinkers, are becoming more vocal about their belief that Japan should have at least the ability to make nuclear weapons.
The two issues are intertwined because nuclear plants can develop the technology and produce the fuel needed for weaponry, as highlighted by concerns that nuclear power programs in Iran and North Korea are masking bomb development.
"Having nuclear plants shows to other nations that Japan can make nuclear weapons," former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba, now an opposition lawmaker, said.