Japan should rethink ban on US nukes: former defence minister

Japan should discuss whether to let the US place atomic weapons on its territory following North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, the former defence minister has said.

Former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba told reporters in Tokyo ‘the North has this nuclear capability, so the situation is completely different from when it didn’t’.

Kyoto News earlier cited him saying that holding a debate would strengthen the deterrent effect of Japan’s alliance with the US.

Japan has been discussing how to pressurise North Korea leader Kim Jong Un after Pyongyang tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb on 3 September.

Japan is the only country to suffer nuclear attacks, and has maintained a ban on atomic weapons for half a century in line with its pacifist status. Its three non-nuclear principles say it will not produce or possess such weapons, or allow them to be introduced.

When asked about Ishiba’s remarks, Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, said the government would maintain the principles and had no plans to discuss it.

Ishiba said the ban was inconsistent with Japan’s reliance on the US ‘nuclear umbrella’ for its defence.

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