Japan PM opposes sharing US nuclear weapons after Abe proposal

The disagreement by Japan PM Fumio Kishida comes as Tokyo watches developments in the Ukraine crisis. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday (Feb 28) said sharing nuclear weapons with the United States in a way similar to Nato members would not be allowed under Japan's non-nuclear principles, pushing back against a predecessor who floated the idea.

An opposition lawmaker pressed Mr Kishida on the idea in Parliament after former premier Shinzo Abe told a TV show on Sunday that the concept should be discussed and there should be no taboos on such defence issues.

"From the perspective of maintaining our three non-nuclear principles, it could not be allowed," Mr Kishida said.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told the same committee that Japan was not thinking of revising its non-nuclear principles.

The disagreement between the Premier and his former boss comes as Tokyo watches developments in the Ukraine and their consequences for East Asia with growing alarm.

Japan for decades has campaigned for the elimination of nuclear weapons after its cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by atomic bombs dropped in the final stages of World War II.

A survey carried out by the Nikkei newspaper found that more than three quarters of respondents were concerned that failure to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine could embolden China to attack Taiwan.

Japan sees neighbouring Taiwan's security as closely linked to its own, and has a separate territorial dispute with Beijing.

Japan, the only country to suffer nuclear attacks, has officially maintained three non-nuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons outlined by then prime minister Eisaku Sato in 1967.

Hemmed in by a pacifist constitution, and beset by threats from North Korea and China, it nevertheless relies heavily on the US "nuclear umbrella" for its security. Declassified documents have shown that the US stored nuclear weapons in Okinawa before it reverted to Japanese control in 1972.

The issue is particularly sensitive for Mr Kishida, who hails from Hiroshima, and has called nuclear disarmament his life's work. In 2016, he accompanied Mr Barack Obama on the first visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial by a sitting US president.

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