Analysis of the stockpiles of nuclear material available for use in bomb building reveals some surprising results, with Japan’s nuclear potential ranking high in an international comparison thanks to its large nuclear power industry.
As the chart suggests, it takes into account estimates of plutonium stockpiles, whether acquired expressly for the purposes of nuclear armament or for civilian power generation, to build a series of estimates of the potential nuclear stockpiles each nation could build.
Japan also possesses an additional distinction compared to a number of countries shown, in that it has an independent space program. Some have suggested this serves an unspoken “dual-use” deterrent function, as there is not much that distinguishes a space rocket from a nuclear missile, save from what goes on the top.
Most observers suppose that with sufficient political will Japan could rapidly assemble a nuclear arsenal, although so far calls for an independent nuclear deterrent have been muted at best, even with North Korea’s blustering threats to destroy the nation.
However, unlike any of its neighbours Japan’s constitution expressly forbids maintaining “war potential,” though this has not stopped the nation from building what by some estimates is the world’s fourth most powerful navy…