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Monday, November 26, 2007

Report on Dr. Mitsuru Kurosawa's talk of Japanese Nuclear Policy by Arc Han

On November 26th, Dr. Mitsuru Kurosawa, a professor from Osaka University, visited UBC and gave a talk under the topic “Japan’s Nuclear Policy”. The speech focuses on the recent debate on Japan going nuclear and the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) process in Japan, Dr. Kurosawa also touched on the issues of regional security of East Asia.

Generally, opinion from both Japanese public and the government are the same: known as the nuclear allergy, this opinion of strongly against nuclear weapon is widely shared by both the public and the government. The idea is presented as a long-term policy “the three non-nuclear principles” (no produce, no deployment, and no possession of nuclear weapons). There was a debate about whether Japan should obtain nuclear weapon recently, but this proposal faced strong oppositions such as: 1.) U.S. will not approve; 2.) not necessary because of the U.S. nuclear umbrella; 3.) endanger East Asia security; 4.) considering as absolutely immoral, etc. therefore, Dr. Kurosawa comes to the conclusion: in a foreseeable future, “the probability for Japan going nuclear is extremely low”.

Interestingly, Japanese NPT policy seems to be contradictive with the needs of an American nuclear umbrella. Dr. Kurosawa also uses the case of India nuclear test to demonstrate this contradiction: American started to negotiate with India after several years of sanction, but Japanese publics, both the left and the right (Dr. Kurosawa uses newspaper articles from the Asahi news, the left, and Nikki news, the right, as examples), still have strong criticizes to India nuclear test in 1998 and refuse to recognize India’s status of a nuclear country. A student asked if U.S. changed the course toward India, would Japan give up its NPT policy and follow U.S; Dr. Kurosawa answered that, it’s unlike to see Japanese government to follow that course change, unless they can change the strong anti-nuclear public opinions in Japan.

I asked Dr. Kurosawa this question: as Dr. Kurosawa mentioned that the idea of having a “regional collective security organizations” is discussed in Japan now, what that “organization” would like? Would it like the NATO or the EU? Mu understanding is if it’s like the NATO, that means people are talking about the possibility of another Cold War in East Asia; If it’s like the EU, personally, I prefer to that idea.
Dr. Kurosawa answers: now, be realistic, we have to separate economy and security issues. In economy, such a regional cooperative organization is already on its way. But in security issue, it’s unrealistic to ignore the existence of American military force in that region (and diversities in the security interests of East Asian countries). Personally, I (Dr. Kurosawa refers to himself) also like to see the EU-like cooperation happen in East Asia (in security issues), and the six-party talk could be a starting point of such a future development.
I think Dr. Kurosawa’s answer is realistic and applicable--rather than utopian thoughts. Clearly, we--people from East Asia countries--don’t want to see devastating wars happened again among our home countries, but the question I always think about is, how can we bring a lasting peace to that region. I think to follow the European experience might be helpful. But this idea--having a EU-like organization in East Asia--could not comes true without some concrete efforts. I values Dr. Kurosawa’s answer because it gives a hope of such a cooperative international relation while it also indicates a realistic way to make it happen.

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