85% of Japanese asked whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons agreed, whilst only 22% believed their American allies would really come to their aid if their nation was threatened.
1. Should Japan possess nuclear weapons?
2. Should there be public debate on the matter?
3. In the event of an emergency, do you think the USA would protect Japan?
The survey was conducted by Sankei, the most right-wing of Japan’s major rags (in fact it is doubtful the other papers would even allow the topic to be discussed) and although not conducted with the same relative rigour as a telephone opinion poll, its results are nonetheless telling.
Sankei presents some of the comments from respondents:
“Russia, China, North Korea – our nation is surrounded by nuclear powers. At best we can say they are not friendly. Acquiring a deterrent with which to protect our people and territory should be discussed.”
“Why is discussion about this a taboo in Japan? If there was an incident, would the people suppressing debate about it take responsiblity?”
“The time has come for us to consider the US security guarantee. Nuclear arms are required for us to become truly independent. Being dependent on the US for our safety and being constantly treated with contempt by China are both undesirable.”
“We should not have nuclear weapons, we should invest money in conventional forces rather than ones we can never use.”
“America won’t let us have them, and it will only encourage neighbouring countries to place sanctions on us and increase their own armaments. We should however have a healthy debate on the subject and be ready to acquire nuclear weapons if needed.”
“We should avoid acquiring them. But if the situation with our neighbouring countries remains unchanged, this debate is only going to continue.”
The overt hostility of their neighbours and the notorious duplicity of American foreign policy seems to be persuading many Japanese that the only hope they have for freedom from foreign coercion is a credible deterrent of their own, in the process eroding their carefully constructed victim mentality when it comes to nuclear weapons.