◆(English)Buildup of Nuclear Armament Capability and the Post-War Statehood of Japan/Muto,Ichiyo
◆(Chinese)Buildup of Nuclear Armament Capability and the Post-War Statehood of Japan/Muto,Ichiyo
Buildup of Nuclear Armament Capability and the Post-War Statehood of Japan
: Fukushima and the Genealogy of Nuclear Bombs and Power Plants
In the battered Fukushima Daiichi nuclear structures, which continue to spew out radiation incessantly, I cannot but identify the presence and activity of a collective human will. Here, I am not using a metaphor. Those living ruins are, in fact, the incarnation of the will of those humans who have built and managed the nuclear regime. The ruins are there only as a material consequence of their actions, which have taken place over decades. During the reign of this nuclear regime, its will was masked by promises of clean energy and a bright future. We were constantly told by the regime and its loyal media that comfort, convenience, prosperity and mass consumption would all be impossible without nuclear power, and we—the majority of society—swallowed this idea whole. Now, however, the true nature of the regime has been revealed for what it is: a heinous beast, so to speak, who poisons whatever it touches and continues its endless destruction of life—and has proven itself to be a near-immortal species that resists with all its might being slain and put to rest.
I now realize that before the Fukushima catastrophe, I had only a poor and limited imagination about nuclear power’s actual degree of heinousness. If not as a specialized anti-nuke activist, I, too, was working from the 1970s on the nuclear issue by identifying with the communities who were resisting the construction of nuclear plants. I participated in anti-nuke demonstrations and publicized the movement’s actions overseas, and also advocated social alternatives to the official discourse of development and economic growth, which held up an abundant energy supply as gospel. In theory, I did know about nuclear hazards. Nevertheless, the March 11, 2011 disaster was on a totally different level from anything that I had ever imagined. I was devastated. I know it may sound presumptuous for a person like me, who was not directly hit by the disaster, to speak about personal devastation. But the fact is that I felt almost physically stricken by the turn of events, which hit me in the form of a premonition regarding the total decomposition of the social fabric. I was struck not only by the enormity of the disaster, but also by the appallingly inept and irresponsible handling of the situation by the government leaders, bureaucrats, and owner of the reactors. It was obvious from what they did and did not do that their real concern was anything but protecting and saving people’s lives. I felt that a crime was being committed, and that it was being condoned.
While this is not a situation of war, per se, the scale and nature of destruction has led us to stare directly into an abyss characterized by the general collapse of the natural and social order that we had previously taken for granted. This realization, I felt, indeed allowed us a glimpse of war—and nuclear war, at that. In point of fact, many of our citizens have been hurled into the depths of this abyss. Forced to evacuate from their contaminated homes and towns, they were suddenly uprooted from the social and natural ground that they had nurtured through generations of toil. Because radioactive contamination is at the heart of this destruction, the disaster lingers on, taking dozens—no, hundreds—of years to run its course, poisoning and harming natural and human beings all the while. While society can rehabilitate from natural disasters, restoration in the sense of going back to the pre-disaster status is not possible in this case. This is the true meaning of nuclear disaster. As radioactive contamination continues to affect human bodies and the environment over an extremely long span of time, this destruction is irreversible. Clearly, then, the fact that we have as many as fifty-four nuclear power plants and additional spent fuel reprocessing facilities that are spread across wide swathes of coastline of our earthquake-prone archipelago is unacceptable. Should more Fukushimas occur, Japan as a society may have little chance to survive.
Even given this dire reality, however, I reject apocalyptic scenarios. I take the side, rather of optimists who are confident that we will continue to live, rebuild and reconstruct—just as people have done in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Nanking, Chernobyl, Fallujah, Vietnam, Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia. In no way, however, does this statement align with the way that the government and the mass media have now fallen all over themselves in the rush to declare, “The time for reconstruction has arrived!” Should the proposed reconstruction not be in line with the character of the destruction and reflect the depth of the crisis, the jovial calls for reconstruction would merely serve to push the truth of the crisis underground and cloak the realities in false truths. The effort to bury the crisis underground would certainly accompany attempts to divide the survivors, deprive them of their status as a rightful negotiating party, and cover up the reality of their lives. This disaster has wrought varying types and degrees of pain and destruction upon a wide swathe of the population, and the existing rays of hope are to be found in the fact that survivors from different social categories have emerged to rightfully claim their interests and their decision-making power.
With nuclear hazards spread far and wide, the range of victims was equally broadened—thereby making visible unequal center/periphery relationships amongst different sectors of the population (wherein overconsumption among residents in Tokyo served to perpetuate the suffering of those in Fukushima). This situation divides the victimized population, while clearly certainly surfacing as a serious issue to be addressed. For victims in different unequally linked settings to emerge as equally rightful bodies, conscious efforts on the part of social movements are required to help overcome existing barriers and remake unequal relationships into fairer ones.
Here, what becomes crucial are the voices of survivors themselves—particularly those calling out from the social peripheries. It is only on the basis of their right to life, right to refuse, and right to decide that reconstruction will finally become possible. Success or failure of the present struggle hinges on whether we can defeat the forces in power, who—having claimed that they had gotten the Fukushima plant under control and that the time for reconstruction had arrived—have now mobilized to reduce sufferers to the status of “relief beneficiaries” while divesting them of their legitimate rights as concerned parties. This confrontation, if you will, defines the frontline of the current struggle. It should also be noted that disaster survivors are not the only stakeholders. In fact, all persons everywhere—no matter where they are based—are also intimately connected with this matter in the sense that they live in a world fraught with the dangers of nuclear power. Many have also accepted the use of nuclear power within their society, bringing upon themselves the moral obligation to decide whether the nuclear status quo should be continued into the future.
The Fukushima disaster and subsequent development has already given us enough proof of nuclear power’s destructive capacity to bring about the decomposition of an entire society. It is irrelevant, therefore, to discuss questions such as whether or not this energy source is desirable, more economical than its alternatives, competitive for the nation, and the like.
Whatever the answer to these questions, nuclear power should be unconditionally abandoned. That’s it.
This said, the question immediately arises: Why was something of such an insidious nature ever allowed to intrude upon our daily lives in such an intimate way? How did it become possible for over fifty nuclear reactors to be established along the coastline of this country, in a manner that completely defies all common sense?
On the Fukushima nuclear crisis, quite a few books and articles have been written and published by well-learned scholars. As for myself, I am no expert on nuclear energy. However, since I have been dealing critically with the nature and modus operandi of the postwar Japanese state for years, I feel personally impelled to settle accounts with this issue on my own grounds. That means that I try to approach the issue of nuclear power not so much in terms of energy or environmental problems, but rather in terms of its relevance to the basic formation and mode of being of postwar Japanese statehood. I hope, thereby, to cast some new light from a different angle on the focal issue of denuclearization.
It may appear to be a slight detour, but I would like to begin with an old story.
Unintended Encounter with Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power – Hiroshima, 1957
It is only recently that I realized my first encounter with the nuclear power issue occurred, rather unwittingly, in the year 1957. I was then working as a staff member in charge of the international section of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo). I was recruited to work there at the beginning of that year, and I was devoting myself to preparations for the Third World Conference against A&H Bombs, which the anti-bomb movement was organizing in Tokyo in August that year. For a young activist, groping for a ray of hope in the darkness of the Korean War period, it was an exciting and fulfilling experience to begin to work in the vibrant and positive environment of this new movement. In March 1954, nearly two years following the end of rule by U.S. occupation forces, the so-called Bikini incident occurred—violently shocking Japanese society. The Japanese tuna fishing boat Lucky Dragon No. 5 (Daigo Fukuryu Maru
), operating in the Pacific, was showered with radioactive fallout later known as “ashes of death” from a megaton-class hydrogen bomb test explosion carried out by the United States on Bikini Atoll. The crew of the boat were exposed to strong radiation, developing symptoms on their way home. One of them died of radiation disease in September. This incident was responded to first by the spontaneous protest action of housewives in Tokyo’s Suginami district, who spearheaded a petition campaign calling for an end to the bomb testing. The initiative spread very rapidly across the entire country, joining forces with similar efforts in Hiroshima, and giving birth to an unprecedentedly large-scale grassroots movement against atomic and hydrogen bombs. (Fujiwara 1991, Maruhama 2011).
This movement transcended party lines and sectoral barriers. Emerging as voluntary actors were members of conservative and progressive parties, as well as community women’s groups, youth organizations, student and labor movements, religious organizations, and intellectual communities. In total, some 32 million signatures were collected. As the movement spread across the country, it was decided to make an appeal to the rest of the world for a ban on nuclear weapons, leading to the convocation of the first World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Hiroshima in 1955 calling for the prohibition of nuclear weapons. It was there that survivors of the atom bombings (hibakusha
) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki spoke out publicly for the first time. The second world conference was held in Nagasaki in 1956, with a focus on the support for hibakusha
. As for myself, I was busy working for the Third World Conference held in Tokyo. After the conference, I traveled to Hiroshima for the first time in order to guide international delegates.
Visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, I found the exhibits to be shocking. In the center of the hall was a diorama of the entire city flattened by the atomic bomb, flanked by dimly lit passageways with exhibitions including photographs and possessions of the deceased. I can still recall the overwhelming, suffocating feeling that overcame me as I stood there, face to face with the remains of the indiscriminate mass slaughter brought on by the use of this weapon. At the end of the exhibition route was a door to another showroom. As I opened the door and stepped inside, my eyes were hit by unusually bright light filling the room. This was, according to the posted sign, the “Atoms for Peace” room. The message here was clear: Atomic power was a brilliant scientific discovery, and this was where the future of humanity was headed. The room was filled with flashy panels featuring models of “magic hands” holding nuclear materials, cheerfully illustrated panels and models of atomic airplanes, atomic-powered ships and trains, and sure enough, models of nuclear power plants. The contrast with the dimly lit room of the atomic bombing was striking. Separating the hideousness of the mass carnage wrought by the bomb and the untainted future of atomic power for peaceful use was one thin door; it was a completely different world. Hell and paradise were put together back-to-back. The unsettling combination made me feel sick with dizziness.
This was how the Hiroshima peace museum stood in the year 1957. Despite my sense of unease, I did not go further at the time to clarify what this awkward contrast could mean. After all, this young man, Muto, was a member of the anti-bomb movement, and nothing other than bombs—even if it may have been related to atoms—was considered to lie within his proper area of interest.
It was only much later that I learned the reason why the “Atoms for Peace” annex was added to the main hall of the bomb memorial museum. In 1956, the year prior to my visit, Hiroshima had hosted an “Atoms for Peace” exhibition, for which the conveners had decided to use the space of the memorial museum. In order to create space for the exhibits, the entire contents of the museum had to be temporarily removed. Considering that 1956 was the year of expansion and organizational buildup of the anti-bomb movement, it was nothing short of outrageous to propose that all bombing related exhibits be carried out of the museum to be replaced by articles showing the blessings of atomic power. Nevertheless, this was exactly what occurred. I later learned that a portion of the Atoms for Peace exhibits had been “gifted” to the museum at the end of its run—thereby explaining the peaceful use annex that I had unwittingly entered in the following year of 1957.
I became aware of the above development through a book written in 1994 by Ichiro Moritaki, a most respected leader and spiritual pillar of the anti-bomb movement in Hiroshima (all quotes from him come from this source). Moritaki, a professor of ethics who was himself a hibakusha
, wrote the book using quotes from his own diary, providing a soul-searching account of the process through which the “peaceful use of nuclear power” issue was brought to Hiroshima, and how local citizens reacted to it.
“It was around the end of January 1955 that I first faced the nuclear power issue involving Hiroshima,” Moritaki recalled. On January 27 of that year, it was reported that U.S. Democratic Congressman Yates had submitted a resolution to the U.S. Congress calling for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the city of Hiroshima (Tanaka 2011). The local citizens received this news with great shock, and the ensuing repercussions were significant. The Chugoku Shimbun
newspaper reported on February 5 that in a letter Congressman Yates had sent to the Atomic Energy Commission and President Eisenhower regarding his resolution, he proposed that Hiroshima be made the center of peaceful utilization of atomic energy, that a nuclear power plant begin operating in the city within three years, and that although he had previously planned to build a hospital to provide medical care for some 6,000 atomic bomb survivors, he had changed his mind and now thought that a nuclear power plant would be more useful.
Moritaki’s diary entry of Friday, January 28 reads as follows:
In the evening, the standing executive board of the Hiroshima Gensuikyo meets.
This morning’s newspaper and radio reported that U.S. Congressman Yates submitted a resolution calling for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Hiroshima. We had intense discussion about this topic. We finally decided to issue a public statement on this matter to explain to our citizens what are the points at issue here. Chosen as the drafting committee members were Watanabe, Moritaki, Sakuma, Tanabe and Seko.
The drafted and publicly announced statement expressed concerns that a nuclear power plant could be turned to manufacture nuclear bombs, that radioactive matters generated by the reactor would pose serious threats to the human body, that the management and operation of the reactor proposed to be set up in Hiroshima would be subjected to American control, and that in the event war occurred, Hiroshima with its reactor could well be the first target of nuclear attack. Citing these concerns, the statement emphasized that the first priority should be given to providing full medical treatment and livelihood aid to tens of thousands of Hiroshima citizens who were suffering from atomic diseases. The Chugoku Shimbun reported that the local Gensuikyo had issued a statement opposing the nuclear plant. Moritaki recalls:
When he was shown this statement, Hiroshima Mayor Hamai did not hide his sense of unease and disappointment. When he bumped into me (in the city office), he said to me, “When I first saw your statement in the press, I thought, ‘damnit’! And to think that Mike Masaoka  had worked so hard to almost bring it to success.”
Hamai was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “I have been calling on the United States to spearhead the peaceful use of nuclear energy for the past two years. In particular, I asked for Mike Masaoka’s assistance in this regard when visiting the U.S. last year—and I believe it was his efforts that finally bore fruit…Anyway, starting the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the first city victimized by atomic energy would serve as our tribute to the deceased victims. Our citizens, I am sure, will welcome it.” …”I want to believe that this (nuclear plant) is intended as a life-affirming gift of goodwill.”
And so it was that the “Atoms for Peace” exhibition descended upon Hiroshima the following year. If the nuclear-plant-to-Hiroshima initiative ended up as an incident of note, the Atoms for Peace exhibition was a no-nonsense public event prominently sponsored by the prefectural and city governments, Hiroshima University, the Chugoku Shimbun newspaper, and the American Culture Center.
Riding on this event, you could say that the “peaceful use of nuclear energy” concept had forced itself into Hiroshima to take root. When the city office decided to clear out the 2000-piece museum exhibit and move them to the central public hall for the incoming exhibition, however, hibakusha organizations naturally opposed it. Moritaki describes what happened next:
The “Atoms for Peace” exposition that the United States was promoting around the entire world had already been held in 26 different countries, and viewed by more than ten million people. In Japan alone, nearly one million had visited it in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, and it is now due to arrive in Hiroshima. We knew that the whispered complaints of hibakusha weren’t really going to make a difference. Even so, we could not suppress our revulsion when we were told that the atomic bomb memorial museum would be cleared for use in the Atoms for Peace exhibition.
The city office was adamant, however, overriding the hibakushas
’ protests. The ground given was that if the museum was not to be used, the city would have to build a new 1000 square meter pavillion costing 10 million yen, for which it had no such budget.
Diary entry for Friday, January 28:
I spoke this evening with the Mayor (Watanabe) regarding the clearing out of the atomic bombing memorial museum (to make way for the incoming exposition). He sympathized with our position that this was a disgrace, but pointed out that there was no other option given the existing financial constraints.
Diary entry for Wednesday, April 25:
I received from American Cultural Center Director Fotouhi a response from the U.S. government to the letter that we had sent to the heads of state of the U.S., England and the Soviet Union, which called for an end to hydrogen bomb testing in accordance with a resolution passed by our second Bikini anniversary conference held on March 1st…
At this time, the American Cultural Center was functioning practically as the U.S Embassy’s detachment in Hiroshima. After I received the letter of response, I tried to persuade the director that he should definitely not remove the atom bombing exhibits from the museum for this exposition, and that he should listen closely to the feelings of the hibakusha in the city. In closing, I said in a pretty forceful tone, “If I were you, I would most definitely not have made this decision.” At this, Fotouhi shouted, “I’ll overwhelm Hiroshima with ‘peaceful use.’ Mind you, with “peaceful use!” Just you wait and see!”
In introducing Moritaki’s recollection, I cannot suppress my complicated feelings at all of this having happened in 1955-56—precisely the years characterized by an unprecedented upsurge of the movement against atomic and hydrogen bombs, culminating in the convocation of the First and Second World Conferences in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The context was clear and obvious: the peaceful use campaign was brought in from outside, that is, from the United States, precisely with this amazing rapid spread of the anti-nuclear bomb movement as its target. (Tanaka 2011, Kanou 2011).
This development reveals the mission assigned to the “peaceful use of atomic energy,” which was that of impressing the Japanese public with an angelic image of “atomic power”—thereby diluting and hopefully liquidating the atom’s satanic images of death and devastation. The Moritaki-cited emotional words spoken by Director Fotouhi— “I will overwhelm Hiroshima with peaceful use!”—unwittingly defined the nature of the mission. And the mission appeared to have been successfully carried out. The Chugoku Shimbun newspaper, covering citizen opinions, featured headlines such as, “Hope for the future of civilization” and “I’m so glad I lived long enough to witness this miracle,” while none of the comments on “peaceful use ” by public figures included negative views.
It was true that some comments did raise fundamentally important issues, dwelling, for instance, on the need to prohibit nuclear weapons and to establish a full cure for atomic bomb-caused diseases as a necessary precondition for peaceful use. Others warned against the dangers of radioactive hazards from nuclear reactors, while still others questioned how nuclear waste from reactors were going to be disposed of. Overall, however, the “Atoms for Peace” event seems to have succeeded in establishing a frame of discourse classifying “atomic energy for peaceful use” as something good and helpful. (Chugoku Shimbun
, May 26-27, 1956) The three-week takeover of the memorial museum was, in fact, a symbolic act to transform the very meaning of atomic power. While people were privately complaining about the brazenness of this move, however, they were lured into an arena where nuclear power was assumed to be a force for positive change.
In this context, let me go back to Mayor Hamai’s remark that I quoted earlier from Moritaki’s diary for critical reexamination. Hamai said, “Having a nuclear plant in the first atom-bombed city in the world would serve as a tribute to the deceased victims and he was sure that his citizens would welcome it.” Is this true? Why should the victims of the atom bomb, dead or alive, have any particular reason to welcome “peaceful use of atomic power”? There is a leap, or rather a perversion, of logic to ground this reasoning. Underlying the assumptions therein is this line of argument: the more murderous the atom as a bomb, the more benevolent it should be in its peaceful use
. By accepting this tricky logic, people who are vehemently against the bomb are craftily disarmed and won over on the side of peaceful use.
It is necessary at this point to take note of the different strategies existing between the U.S and Japan with regard to attitudes toward nuclear power. The United States carried out a “carpet-bombing” style campaign, as is typical in Fouthi’s “overwhelm Hiroshima with peaceful use” approach. It was targeted directly at replacing people’s demonic image of the atom with that of an angel.
The Japanese reaction, by contrast, was asymmetrical to this offensive American approach. It was roundabout and inflexed, with the Japanese logic of atomic power acceptance including a “precisely because” nexus that served to connect the angel with the demon. The Asahi Shimbun
on August 3, 2011 printed a good analytical essay under the lengthy title of “’Precisely because’ – the logic of a nuclear bomb-hit country accepting nuclear power generation.” That article cited several different versions of the “precisely because” logic, critiquing the justification of nuclear power generation on the grounds of Japan being an atom bomb-victim country.
This angle of critical inquiry is supportable. In fact, mayor Hamai’s reasoning typically falls into the “precisely because” category . Characteristically, the “precisely because” reasoning takes the atomic bombed-experience as a given static whole, something that already happened, something too late to work on to process, and therefore something you don’t want to bring out anew and set in front of you to reexamine. At this point, the personal experiences of individual hibakusha
have been processed into an abstraction with no individual faces or bodies. In fact, I cannot believe that there can exist any natural channel through which the concrete, personal experience of individual hibakusha
may be connected with admiration for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. In order for this to happen, the personal experience of hibakusha
had to first be processed into a generalized abstraction known as the atomic bomb experience. It was only then that this abstraction could be connected to the topic of “peaceful use”. The “precisely because” device thereby serves as the joint connecting these two alien factors, both of them abstractions.
When this happens, the channels through which one can ask important questions about the atom-bomb experience become closed off. People stop asking legitimate questions, which remain unasked and therefore unanswered. For instance: Why were the atom bombs built and dropped in August, 1945? Who made the decision to do so? And what was that war really about? Who started it? Who is responsible for what happened? Who, exactly, were perpetrators and who victims? Without such basic questions asked, the abstraction of “peaceful use” is accepted as a package that remains untied, its contents never subjected to critical scrutiny. Perception thereby gives way to emotions and morality.
This attitude and approach, I would argue, is not particular to atomic energy, but characterizes the general postwar Japanese pattern of evaluating and interpreting the historical past. We have heard so often the official voice urging us not to linger on the past, but instead to embrace a bright future. In the immediate postwar years, the official slogan was something akin to, “The war is over, now let us switch to building a peaceful nation.” The “war” here is an abstraction. So is “peace.” Here, the concrete is absorbed into the static abstract, which no one can challenge or object to, nor unravel. Certainly this type of formulation blocks the road to any real evaluation of the past.
The most egregious of this sort of evaluation of the past is the all-purpose logic used not only within the statements of rightwing Yasukuni shrine zealots, but also those issued by government spokespersons on official memorial occasions such as the August 15 anniversary ceremony marking the end of the war. Though there are different versions thereof, this type of statement basically boils down to saying, “We owe today’s peace and prosperity to the three million compatriots who gave their lives for the nation.” There is no explanation about how the deaths of the millions is linked to today’s peace and prosperity. Nevertheless, it is claimed—as if through common sense—that the latter positive example owes its presence to the former negative one. This interpretation is often imposed on all as though it were a moral behest, with any questioning thereof threatening to invite the charge of blasphemy against those who had previously sacrificed their lives so selflessly for the nation.
It was precisely this emotional association, while not mediated by any logic, that has been serving as the postwar Japanese state’s most useful means to evade its war and colonial responsibilities. If the above-mentioned questions regarding the atomic bombing had been asked in earnest during the 1950s, the door would have been opened for the path toward full illumination of the meaning of the war, Japan’s responsibility in terms of both war and colonization, and war crimes committed by the U.S.—notably the crime of atomic genocide. This would have been followed by voices calling for the due process of justice to penalize the war criminals. In that event, the cenotaph of the Hiroshima atomic bomb memorial would have been inscribed with something different than the ambiguous and questionable passage: "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil." And of course, the “precisely because” link between the bomb and “peaceful use” would not have emerged.
All told, it is nothing less than the secret of the postwar Japanese state that lurks within this problematic schema.
At this point, it is necessary to consider the phrase “peaceful use of nuclear energy”. While used commonly during the 1950s, this was not the case in subsequent decades. Although I would not say that the phrase later disappeared altogether, it did seem to fall out of commonplace usage. While I have not specifically conducted research into the exact time when this occurred, there is no doubt that the term “peaceful use” emerged in tandem with that of “military use.” Precisely because nuclear power first came onto the scene in the form of the atomic and then the hydrogen bombs, it was necessary to assert that there existed usages other than those of bombs.
Enter, then, the “peaceful use of nuclear energy.” It is only within this context that the phrase can take on any meaning. In fact, “peaceful use” is not applied to anything and everything. Oil, for example, is used for military purposes as fuel for fighter planes and tanks, as well as napalm; but no one refers to its utilization in home heaters, electricity, or personal vehicles as the “peaceful use of oil.” Similarly, you would never hear of the “peaceful use of iron.” The reason is because oil and iron are primarily for general usage. In fact, there are many other items that may be used for both everyday life and war purposes. Never do you hear, however, of the “peaceful use” or the “military use” of such items. The only reason why the special phrase “peaceful use” had come into usage exclusively with regard to nuclear energy was because its origins lay in the military. In fact, electric power generation by nuclear reactors, the mainstay of “peaceful use,” was a bi-product of bomb-manufacturing processes.
The term, “peaceful use of nuclear energy,” is credited to President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous speech titled “Atoms for Peace” delivered to the United Nations in December 1953. In the sense I mentioned above, this title silhouettes the original use of “atoms,” which was for war. Uses other than military were something very special, and therefore had to be conspicuously emphasized.
This was the early phase of the Cold War, with the Soviet Union having developed atomic bombs in 1949, followed by a hydrogen bomb test in 1953—thereby ending the nuclear monopoly of the United States. The United Kingdom, for its part, had developed its own nuclear weapons, carrying out test explosions in 1952. The Korean War, which had begun in 1950, teetered on the edge of erupting into nuclear warfare in June 1951, sending shivers around the world.
The Cold War escalated during the ensuing decade, with a spurred nuclear arms race and fierce competition in the development of long-range ballistic missiles. The nuclear arsenal built up rapidly, with the stockpile of nuclear warheads produced on both sides reaching what Ralph Lapp termed the “overkill” level—huge enough to bring death to all of humanity a number of times over. The United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom expanded the capacities of their bomb-making nuclear reactors and uranium enrichment facilities through this process, resulting in overproduction of nuclear materials beyond existing military needs. Despite the continued stockpiling of warheads and the development of new types of weapons, it would not be possible to simply continue the endless production of bomb materials as long as the consumption of these weapons did not occur (i.e., as long as nuclear war did not take place). The burgeoning cost of running bomb-making facilities had to be met with a national budget. After all, an entire industry cannot be sustained on a constant basis dependent only upon weapons manufacturing. To maintain this operation, then, it was necessary to make a business out of nuclear power. Nuclear physicist Mitsuo Taketani explained:
The first batch of nuclear reactors was a clumsily designed, over-sized type of installations developed primarily for the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Many of this type were built at that time. At first, the thermal energy generated from their operation was viewed merely as a bothersome by-product, and was cast away into the atmosphere or dumped into rivers. It was not until over-production of bomb materials occurred that attention began to be paid to the energy generating side of the reactors. (Taketani 1976, pg. 39)
Thus was the nuclear industry privatized and encouraged to grow as a commercial sector, with reactors for weapons manufacturing converted into commercial power generating reactors in the U.S. and U.K. It was against this backdrop that Eisenhower announced his “Atoms for Peace” program. It was an initiative aimed at maintaining the United States’ nuclear dominance after the loss of its nuclear monopoly by placing the international transfer of enriched uranium and other nuclear materials under the control of an international organization subjected to U.S. control. As such, the program was nothing other than an organic component of the 1950s U.S. hegemonic strategy, which was centered on a huge nuclear arsenal.
If one goes through the text of the Atoms for Peace speech, one may wonder if it is really about “peaceful use” at all. The first half is devoted to the destructive power of nuclear weapons, boasting threateningly of the United States’ capability to annihilate any country that would attempt to threaten it with nuclear weapons. Then, in the final section of the speech, he states that the Soviet Union and other principal concerned nations should contribute a portion of their fissionable materials for management by the forthcoming international organization known as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which would in turn oversee the “peaceful use” thereof. Not linked at all with any nuclear disarmament, the “peaceful use” was obviously proposed merely as auxiliary to the military use.
The idea of international arms control by the U.S.-managed international organization, which was known as the Baruch Plan, was put forth by the U.S. following the end of the WWII. This was rejected by the Soviet Union, however, which claimed that arms control had nothing to do with the necessary ban on the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons. The Eisenhower proposal similarly met the Soviet Union’s curt refusal, following the same line of thinking. Against the backdrop of the East-West confrontation, the peaceful use of nuclear energy turned into another cold war battlefield where the two powers began competing to build and support nuclear reactor projects in their respective client countries.
By means of bilateral agreements, the United States created an “American bloc” of countries where power reactors and other facilities fed with U.S.- leased enriched uranium were built and operated under strict U.S. control. The Soviet Union, which commissioned the first civilian use nuclear power plant in 1956 ahead of the U.S., countered this by organizing its own bloc of dependent countries to commission civil use reactors. The borders of the “peaceful use” blocs thereby fell along Cold War geographical division lines.
France and China joined the “nuclear power club” in 1960 and 1964, respectively, generating the need on the part of the two Cold War protagonists to introduce a new arrangement in order to prevent the further spread of nuclear capabilities. The five nuclear powers (United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, France and China) agreed to consolidate their nuclear oligopoly by creating a system that would prevent other countries from going nuclear. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was thus designed and signed in 1970.
Takeoff of Nuclear Power Industry and New Military Connections
It was during the same period that the nuclear power industry reached adulthood as a business branch. Yoshioka Hitoshi, scholar of science history, points out that in the middle of the decade, a global increase in the number of orders for light-water type commercial power generation reactors helped the commercial nuclear power industry to take off (Yoshioka 2011).
Can we then understand that at this point, the nuclear power industry as a commercial business broke away with the military? Was “peaceful use” separated from military use?
Hardly. The coming of age of the nuclear power industry did not mean independence from its military origins. Change did indeed occur, however, in terms of the mode of juncture between the commercial and military elements. Whereas the initial conduit led from bombs to electricity generation, the direction of the possible flow was now reversed from electric power back to the nuclear bomb. The NPT itself is a pact that assumes, and so aims to block, this reverse flow of events. While recognizing the right of signatory countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy (Article 4), the treaty prohibits the manufacturing or acquisition of nuclear arms (Article 2) by non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS), who must dutifully accept IAEA safeguards (inspections). IAEA safeguards encompass broad areas of peaceful use such as reactor operation, uranium enrichment, spent fuel disposal, and amount and locations of nuclear materials storage in order to verify that the NNWS are not diverting nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons. If an NNWS is suspected of using the reactors for weapons-related purposes, moreover, inspections would become mandatory.
As with North Korea, the partition wall dividing electricity generation from weapons material production can be easily lifted by the political decisions of national leaders. In other words, nuclear reactors are able to return at any moment to their original use: bomb production. For the privileged existing nuclear powers, the nuclear power plants of countries not under their political control are all viewed as potential nuclear weapons factories. The NPT is a system created on this assumption.
Here, let us ask a hypothetical question: If the attack on Pearl Harbor had not taken place, if the Manhattan Project had not been organized, if the atomic bombs had not been manufactured, and if Hiroshima and Nagasaki had eventually not been atom-bombed, would commercial nuclear power plants have been built and put into general use? I sincerely doubt it. Were it not for the Manhattan Project, what kind of cost-conscious business firms would ever have thought of venturing to develop and build such a costly, risky, and cumbersome installation just for the generation of electricity? Does it stand to reason that this cumbersome and sophisticated system is run simply to boil water and generate steam to turn a turbine? The effect obtained by the operation of the reactor is essentially the same as that obtained by burning coal in a boiler furnace. Obviously, this involves an appalling technological mismatch.
Admittedly, this method of generating electricity may fit as the power source for submarines, which are desired to travel underwater for as long as possible without surfacing and refueling. The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, which was built by General Dynamics, was launched in 1954 to great fanfare by the United States. It housed a compact pressurized water-type nuclear reactor as its power source, and was touted as a model example of nuclear power generation. Commercial electricity generation with nuclear reactors, however, is a completely different story. Commercial nuclear power plants as public utilities are there to cater for the daily electricity needs existing among huge numbers of consumers, which perhaps include hundreds of thousands of enterprises and millions of households. Here, submarines are useless for comparison. If so, the question remains: why was the use of this complex, expensive, and hazardous system of boiling water chosen as the power source of electrical stations at a time when one-dollar-a-barrel oil was inundating the world market? This was long before the 1973 OPEC offensive erupted, at a time when the Seven Sisters oil majors from the U.S., Netherlands and Britain were still in total control of Middle Eastern oil production, and were trying to spread the use of oil all over the world.
I am not prepared here to clarify why this happened. The following question, however, lingers in my mind: Since nuclear fission technology is certainly most useful to release destructive power in an instant through bombs, how then could Americans and other clever people in the 1950s become so enthusiastic about using it for a process that vehemently rejects that type of energy release? Probably, this was due to the existence of some sort of “cult of atomic power”. This cult reflected the spirit of the times shared by Americans—the sense of the arrival of an American Century—whose symbol was the great Manhattan Project and atomic power. This psychology of a triumphant empire, I suspect, underlay the irrational option for nuclear power generation that would not have been chosen at another time in history.
As we saw with the NPT, a continuum exists between the military and commercial use of nuclear reactors. It is natural, therefore, to assume that the modality of commercial nuclear plant operation located at one end of this continuum is influenced by the military nature of nuclear power at the other. Here, it is also crucial to note that the military is an entity commissioned to kill, destroy, and disable the enemy while continuing to preserve itself. In carrying out this mission, the army assumes casualties on its own side. Here, soldiers’ lives are counted as part of the necessary cost of operations. The military exists to protect an abstract entity called the state, and not the actual living people of the land. The military does not care at all about the environment, as war is essentially a blatant act of ecological destruction. Never replacing or repairing the houses and buildings they destroy, the military remains heavily protected by a wall of secrecy and never divulges essential information.
As for nuclear weapons, they destroy not only through their actual usage, but also exert destructive effects with radiation on human beings and the environment, from the stage of uranium ore excavation to those of manufacture and testing. Whether in Nevada, New Mexico, the Marshall Islands, Semipalatinsk, or Lop Nur—to name several areas of nuclear test explosions—local citizens were exposed to radiation, their lives often cut short, with no remorse or punishment whatsoever on the part of those responsible. As was exposed and proven through evidence, the U.S. government went as far as to conduct human experimentation on their own citizens through injections of plutonium. The United States medical research agency known as the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) utilized hibakusha
from Hiroshima and Nagasaki as guinea pigs in order to collect pathological data that would be useful for future nuclear wars. And when the crew members of the Lucky Dragon fishing boat were exposed to radiation in the Bikini incident, the U.S. government first accused them of being spies, then going on to deny any connection of their disease with the H-bomb experiment. At work here is a particular philosophy of human beings and nature, which may be characterized as cynicism that is indifferent to life and ready to instrumentalize it for abstract causes.
True, a nuclear power plant as such is not a military installation. But doesn’t the technology cum philosophy that it incorporates carry genes from its military inception? Doesn’t the technological continuum from the bomb to commercial utilization also involve a continuum in philosophy? The nuclear industry, for instance, does not bother to make considerations regarding waste disposal facilities or policies when constructing and operating nuclear power plants. Does this idiosyncrasy not resemble that of a nuclear bombardier who drops the bomb while dismissing from his mind the human consequences of his act? Similarly, nuclear plant operators fully understand that their workers’ daily exposure to radiation erodes away their lives every minute, just as the military counts on soldiers’ casualties. The uranium mining operation harms the people and environment involved—indigenous communities in many cases—no matter whether its products are set into bombs or fed to power plants. Common to both is a cynicism toward life, which I suspect has a military origin.
This cynicism manifests itself when it comes to radiation. Believe it or not, when the Fukushima plant situation reached an extremely critical phase, the Japanese government avoided any sort of public avowal that its mission was to “protect the safety of the people.” Instead, while local citizens were being exposed to high levels of radiation, government spokespersons and appointed “experts” were repeatedly telling the people that there was “no immediate damage to health,” all the while concealing the truth and releasing half-truths. Even to this day, the government is reluctant to disclose information in its entirety.
The nuclear bomb and power plant have one source of harm in common: radiation, an agency that silently affects all living beings. And I notice that people in power have tried to minimize (and, if possible, to conceal) this heinous trait from the public, with respect to both nuclear attacks and nuclear plant accidents. I ask: Is this only by coincidence?
In September 1945, Major General Thomas Farrell, Deputy Commander of the Manhattan Project, led a U.S. War Department delegation to Japan to conduct an inspection on the effects of the U.S. nuclear bombings. At a press conference held in Tokyo, where he boastfully talked about the stunning power of the blast and heat rays, he stated: “Contrary to Japanese news reports, there were no deaths related to radiation exposure…no proof has been found that radiation will cause deaths over the long term. Hiroshima is now completely safe.” He also commented that Japan-side comments regarding radiation were nothing more than “propaganda” (Shigesawa 2010, pg. 93).
Gen. Farrell’s post-A bombing disavowal is strikingly similar to the Japanese government’s no-immediate-harm-to-health assurances in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima plant reactor core meltdown. Scholars and experts from the nuclear industrial complex (dubbed the “nuclear power village”) came to the rescue of the government, going about in the affected areas and telling the people to take it easy. In both cases, the effects of radiation were either ignored or severely downplayed. In the former case, the U.S. may have wanted to avoid possible accusations that the use of lethal radiation at war may go against the spirit of international law (considering the prohibition of the use of poison gas by the Geneva accord of 1925). In the case of the Fukushima catastrophe, the Japanese government was desperately trying to avoid the impression that the situation was completely out of its control because of the uncontrollable nature of harmful radiation diffusion. The government and the “village” felt they had to prevent the public from coming to the conclusion that nuclear power was completely outside the realm of human ability to manage, and therefore should be abandoned once and for all. Farrell had flatly denied the existence of survivors suffering from radiation effects, and the Japanese government similarly grudged necessary measures to protect its people—especially children—from radiation hazards. Isn’t there more than a coincidental resemblance between the U.S. general and the Japanese government leaders with respect to their handling of the radiation aspect of these catastrophes?
What did the government attempt to protect during the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster? Never once did the Ministry of Science and Education (MOSE) state that its mission was to “protect children’s safety.” Rather, it defiantly justified its raising of children’s maximum allowable level of radiation exposure to 20 millisieverts per year, an incredibly high level by any international standard (the same level allowed for workers working inside nuclear plants). Parents from Fukushima took forceful action to protest this decision, grilling MOSE officials in mass negotiations, but the MOSE officials callously justified the level on grounds that the education system in Fukushima could otherwise not be maintained. Obviously, then, what was regarded as deserving of the state’s protection was the public system of education—not the lives of children. The health check system institutionalized for Fukushima citizens, moreover, closely resembles in both style and spirit the postwar ABCC survey on hibakusha
, which treated survivors like lab animals in order to collect data for its own purposes.
Here, however, I would like to stop pursing this line of argument and return to the topic at hand: that of postwar Japanese statehood.
America, the Anti-Bomb Movement, and Peaceful Use
The “peaceful use” package that the U.S. brought into Japan in the 1950s had specific strategic motivations beyond the general goals set by the “Atoms for Peace” program. It was a special menu prepared to fit a particular set of post-occupation circumstances existing in Japan, which—amidst the background of U.S. indiscriminate mass slaughter of the population with nuclear bombs—was faced with ensuring that Japan, a major U.S. enemy yesterday, would never again emerge as America’s adversary, while simultaneously keeping Japan loyal to the U.S as a frontline anti-Communist base within the Cold War.
1954 was a crucial year in this context. The day after the fishing boat Lucky Dragon No.5 was hit by ashes of death near Bikini Atoll (March 2nd), a multi-party group of conservative MPs presented to the National Diet Japan’s first nuclear power research and development budget. The proposal was sponsored by Yasuhiro Nakasone, Osamu Inaba, Kenzo Saito and Hideji Kawasaki. While the timing was coincidental, we shall see that these two occurrences, one American and the other Japanese, kicked off parallel but mutually interacting sequences of events that would characterize the history of nuclear development in this country.
Forty years later, in 1994, Japan's national public broadcasting agency NHK aired a three-part documentary beginning on March 16 titled “Cold War scenarios for introducing nuclear energy to Japan–U.S. atomic power strategy toward Japan.’ This is a fine documentary detailing how the introduction of nuclear power into Japan was carried out as a deliberate U.S. psychological strategy. The program focused upon the relationship between U.S. intelligence service and its code-named agent Matsutaro Shoriki, a thought-police officer turned owner of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper who harbored intense political ambitions. This documentary included valuable footage, as well as documented testimonies that were meticulously culled from the National Archives in Washington D.C. Particularly important are interviews with key individuals who were still alive at the time of filming, including former U.S. intelligence agents operating in Japan, Japanese Foreign Ministry officials who were secretly sounding out the U.S. on the provision of enriched uranium, the former international department head of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) who was responsible for negotiating with the Japanese government on a bilateral nuclear energy agreement, and Dr. Mitsuo Taketani, a nuclear scientist who was known as the most influential polemic on peaceful use who led the discussions on this matter at the Science Council of Japan.
While the documentary featured important testimonies, what struck me most strongly was its revelation about the extent to which the anti-bomb movement had upset and alerted the U.S. government with its impact. Myself a full time member of this movement then, I can attest to the fact that it was not an anti-American one. The Japanese people, already aware of what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were naturally enraged by the Bikini incident followed by the haughty U.S. denial of its responsibility thereof. This movement, therefore, certainly could not be pro-American in nature. The movement’s uniqueness, in fact, lay in its spontaneous grassroots self-mobilization of people–mothers eager to protect their children from “ashes of death”-style fallout, fishermen and fresh fish salespersons calling for the protection of the ocean and its creatures, Buddhists, Christians, new religion adherents, and all imaginable kinds of people with a wide range of motivations–who began to speak up and take action from their respective milieu of life to see to it that nuclear tests were stopped. (Fujiwara 1991, Maruhama 2011).
To the U.S. authorities, however, this movement appeared to be dangerously anti-American, offering increased opportunities for the communist takeover of Japan. Witnessing the upheaval of the anti-atom bomb sentiments taking hold of Japanese society as a whole, the U.S. felt that its Japan strategy was in peril. Earlier, in 1953, the United States had begun a Psychology Strategy Plan for Japan (PSB D-27) that was aimed at “promptly influencing members of the Japanese intelligentsia, supporting those eager to remilitarize, and promoting mutual understanding between Japan and other free world countries of the Far East—thereby counteracting those prone toward neutrality, Communism and anti-Americanism” (Arima 2008, pg. 63-74).
With the post-Bikini burst of the anti-bomb movement, this psychological strategy was now felt to be defunct. Arima observes that the explosion of the anti-bomb movement “signified the most serious defeat of psychological warfare since the end of the Japanese occupation, and a significant diplomatic blemish” (Arima 2008, pg. 71). The National Security Council document titled “United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Japan,” which was quoted in the NHK program, states that “the violence of Japanese reactions to any matter relating to nuclear weapons is an element in all of our relations with Japan, and raises particular problems in connection with any further U.S. tests in the Pacific, as well as in relation to U.S. actions in the development of the peaceful use of nuclear energy”. What was being called for, in fact, was a reassessment of the entire psychological strategy toward Japan.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Walter Robertson , who was responsible for relations with Japan, sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, John Allison, regarding public sentiment and rising anti-Americanism in Japan following the Lucky Dragon incident. Robertson had appreciated Allison’s previous report regarding “the need for a more vigorous psychological program and possibly also…the shortcomings of our program to date,” and stressed that “this need is heightened by the current Communist peace offensive toward Japan” (Arima 2008, pg. 67).
The “peaceful use of nuclear energy” was the cornerstone of the new psychological strategy. Matsutaro Shoriki of the Yomiuri Shimbun
newspaper, a CIA operative codenamed "Podam," saw in this program the swiftest opportunity to launch his own political career. In 1955, he took the initiative to invite to Japan a “peaceful use” delegation headed by General Dynamics President John Hopkins, at which time he ran a flashy press campaign by the Yomiuri Shimbun
and Nippon Television. Winning over political and business leaders, this campaign triggered a sort of “atoms for peaceful use” boom. Giving the drive another push, the United States then launched the previously mentioned “Atoms for Peace” exposition in Japan. An exhibition was held for six weeks in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park in November 1995, drawing 350,000 people. It then went to seven major cities, including (as we already discussed) Hiroshima, taking over the atomic bomb museum as though this site was a completely natural one.
Illusion of the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy
As Moritaki recalls, 1956—when the exposition came to Hiroshima—was the same year that the second World Conference against A&H Bombs was held in Nagasaki. “The conference discussed the ‘peaceful use of nuclear power‘ in a thematic group, but no critical views were expressed about it,” he observed. “Only some made cautionary remarks that the peaceful use of nuclear energy should serve the people’s interests, not monopoly capital’s.” He continued:
Italian delegate Cassidy, for instance, expressed his hope that the peaceful use of nuclear power would not serve to increase monopoly profits, but instead allow workers to enjoy more bread, a better life, better health and full employment, while serving as a shared social property that would bring about greater freedom and happiness.
Conveying great self-reproach and regret about his and the movement’s acceptance of nuclear power at that time, Moritaki wrote the following:
The declaration of the founding of the Nihon Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations) that had been organized during this same conference was subtitled “Our Message to the World.” It was a statement intended to convey the full emotions and thoughts of us hibakusha. Toward the conclusion of the text, the declaration included this passage: “We are here declaring in unison to the entire world that humankind should not allow the sacrifice and the suffering that we are enduring to be inflicted upon anyone again. Redirecting destruction- and annihilation-capable nuclear power toward the goal of definitive happiness and the prosperity of humanity is the one and only wish of ours as long as we remain alive.”
And to think that I was the one who drafted this declaration…
Moritaki recounted that this line of thinking was “set forth most clearly” in Hiroshima historian Seiji Imahori’s work titled The Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs Era
. The underlying idea of this book, Moritaki observes, is humanity’s “transition from the era of nuclear bombs to an era of nuclear power.” Moritaki goes on to say:
This book wants to say that we should abolish atomic and hydrogen bombs first so that we can enter into the proper era of nuclear energy at the earliest possible time. Not only are there no negative views toward nuclear power, but there are praises for it based on the understanding that the discovery of nuclear energy by freeing humanity from nature’s constraints has provided a major turning point of humanity.
The book’s conclusion states that “we must all put ourselves in the position of the hibakusha. If that is done, we will then realize that we are all in the process of becoming hibakusha ourselves. It is only when we all collectively raise our voices to say, “No more hibakusha!” that the era of atomic and hydrogen bombs will truly be over. The day is not long in coming when a rosy dawn will come, ushering in the new era of nuclear power.”
Imahori was a respected activist intellectual working as a core member of the anti-bomb movement in Hiroshima, and I regard his book The Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs Era
as one of the finest existing analyses of the anti-bomb movement dating back to its inception. I surmise that Moritaki realized the implication of the book’s adulation of nuclear power only much later, and must have exclaimed, “You too?” I sense this small cry of lament between the lines of Moritaki’s sentences.
In fact, Imahori was not an exception in this regard. Rather, you could say that positive views on nuclear power belonged to a common understanding existing within Japanese society during this period. This sentiment was broadly shared by left and liberal intellectuals as well as progressive social and political movements. It was common sense, so to speak, rooted firmly in the unconditional acceptance of scientific development as part of their embrace of modernity. Nuclear scientists were resolutely opposed to the military use of nuclear power, but suffering from the traumatic experience of their cyclotron having been destroyed by U.S. occupation authorities, they were seeking to resume their nuclear research. When the peace treaty was under negotiation in 1951, they presented a request to the government asking that the forthcoming peace pact not include a ban on nuclear research.
With the Hiroshima and Nagasaki experience still raw, the Science Council of Japan—the highest scholar-elected state organ with powers to decide on science policies—underwent a powerful trend during the 1950s resisting the resumption of nuclear studies. A proposal in favor of nuclear studies presented in 1952 by nuclear physicist Koji Fushimi met with strong opposition voiced forcefully by Hiroshima University physicist Yoshitaka Mimura, himself a hibakusha, and was withdrawn. The Council later went on to follow Mitsuo Taketani’s lead, however, adopting a policy of restarting nuclear research in accordance with the three basic principles of autonomy, democracy, and public disclosure, strictly limiting it to peaceful purposes. This policy, however, lacked the grasp of the ingrained military character of nuclear power. “Nuclear power is now a fact of life,” Taketani reasoned. “If we do not pay close attention to its peaceful use, we will fall behind the rest of the world.” He argued, “One of the roles of a small country is to break the nuclear weapons monopoly and the system of scientific secrecy maintained by big powers.” According to this scientist-ideologist, “Japan, as the only atom-bombed country, should take the initiative in this task...To this end, we should draw a clear line of demarcation between nuclear weapons and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.” (Taketani 1976, pg. 8-9)
The start line: Nuclear reactors from a not-so-peaceful perspective
The scholars, however, were not the main actors who actualized the introduction of nuclear reactors. This was accomplished, rather, by conservative politicians who—according to well-publicized sources—had been irritated by scholars’ endless debate and soul-searching, and made up their mind to “slap scholars on the cheek with bundles of banknotes.” As mentioned earlier, they abruptly presented to the Diet a supplementary Y235 million science and technology budget for nuclear reactor building as a joint plan of the three conservative parties, which was passed almost instantly. What motivation could have been behind this sudden action? Interestingly, it certainly did not turn out to be the “peaceful use of nuclear power.”
It was Kuranosuke Oyama, MP of the Kaishin (Innovation) Party, who presented the rationale for the proposed nuclear budget on March 4, 1954 on behalf of his group. He began his speech, according to Yuko Fujita, with an overview of the latest military situation around Japan and went on to note that education and training in the handling of modern weaponry was essential. He said he was presenting this budget in order to enable Japanese people to understand atomic weaponry and acquire the ability to use it. Oyama went on, “It is top priority that we obtain the capacity to understand nuclear weapons, both new and those presently being developed, and to use them if only to avoid being given outdated weapons from the U.S. under the Mutual Security Assistance (MSA) agreement.” I was not aware of this bombshell statement until I found it in Fujita’s essay. (Tsuchida, Fujita, et. al 2007) The fact is that Japan’s first nuclear budget was adopted on the basis of this belligerent speech, and not within any context of the “peaceful use” of nuclear energy. “It was the first time, and (I would like to believe) also the last, for the Japanese parliament to discuss nuclear energy so blatantly as a military issue,” Fujita commented.
In interviews he gave in much later years, Yasuhiro Nakasone, one of the main promoters of this initial warlike nuclear plan, made it a rule to plead that his interest in nuclear power lay in securing an energy source for resource-poor Japan. He recounts in his autobiography that on August 6, 1945, while stationed in Takamatsu (on the island of Shikoku) as a naval pay officer, he saw what appeared to be a thundercloud rising in the western blue sky—and knew immediately that it was a nuclear bomb. “The image of that white cloud remains burned onto my eyes to this day,” he writes, “and it is the shock of this experience that helped motivate me to work for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.” This was, obviously, fiction.
In point of fact, Nakasone stepped into the nuclear field for the first time during a U.S. intelligence-arranged tour of the United States in 1953. The core of the event was a 40-day seminar at Harvard University that had been organized by Henry Kissinger. This seminar was part of a strategic U.S. program to cultivate new pro-U.S. and anti-Communist national leaders throughout the world. In 1953, 45 participants from 25 countries, Nakasone among them, were invited to engage in daily discussion and debate. During his stay in the United States, Nakasone visited military academies and universities, and met and discussed with Japanese specialists living in the United States. He enthusiastically gathered information regarding nuclear power during this time, showing particular interest in small-sized nuclear weapons. It is interesting that around this same time, Kissinger began advocating the limited nuclear war concept based on the use of small nuclear weapons in order to make nuclear warfare feasible by avoiding mutual mass destruction. His disavowal notwithstanding, I do not doubt that Nakasone’s special interest in the nuclear field was integral to his general strategic scenario purporting rearmament, nuclear arming, and changing the constitution.
During the subsequent few years following the 1954 initiation, nuclear energy institutions were set up in rapid succession, punctuated by such major events as the conclusion of the Japan-U.S. nuclear energy agreement (November 1955), promulgation of the Atomic Energy Basic Law and two other related laws (December 1955), the establishment of the Nuclear Energy Council (January 1956), establishment of the Science and Technology Agency (March of the same year), and the choice of Tokai village as the site of the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (April of the same year). The top posts of the Science and Technology Agency and the Atomic Energy Council were both given to Matsutaro Shoriki.
Motives behind propulsion of nuclear power development
This institutional road-paving was followed by a rush of actual plant-building and commissioning during the 1960s, peaking in the 1970s. I will not go into this process in detail here, however, as I would rather focus upon three separate motivating factors at work behind the Japanese nuclear program, which I discussed partially in the earlier part of this essay. I argue that these factors have been regulating, from the very depth of the creation of postwar Japanese society, the entire later development of our country’s pursuit of nuclear power. They are as follows: (1) The “peaceful use of atomic energy” as an integral part of the U.S. hegemonic strategy, in particular, as a psychological warfare strategy administered to counter the influence of the anti-nuclear weapons movement in the 1950s; (2) The ambitions of the postwar Japanese conservative political forces to make and possess nuclear weapons and accordingly change the pacifist constitution; and (3) The adoration of, and cravings for, scientific and technological progress, coupled with a modernization ideology, that were shared by a bulk of scientists and intellectuals who espoused progressive social trends.
The third factor was connected at one end to the constitutional ideology of peace and democracy, and at the other (left) end, had channels connecting it to socialism of the Russian revolution origin, either through direct support or vague sympathetic identification. In should be noted, however, that the general socio-ideological environment surrounding such factors was pro-American, as John Dower aptly described as postwar Japan’s “embrace of defeat.” In that permeating climate, the forces behind the second factor were inhibited from going anti-American and going independently nuclear. As for the forces motivated by the third factor, they did criticize and categorically deny the legitimacy of U.S. Cold War hegemonic rule, but on the other hand, aspired toward or remained uncritical of the “conquer nature” development model that was shared by the United States and the Soviet Union alike.
The above three factors at work behind the “peaceful use of nuclear energy” scheme in postwar Japan bear one-to-one correspondence to what I term three mutually contradictory legitimizing principles that the postwar Japanese state came to incorporate within its very core. These state-defining principles are as follows: (1) the principle of U.S. hegemonic rule, (2) the principle of continuity justifying and inheriting imperial Japan’s past deeds; and (3) constitutional pacifism and democracy. I have been saying time and again that the basic behavior of the postwar Japanese state as a historical entity can be effectively described as the consequence of dynamic interaction among these mutually incompatible legitimating principles that were incorporated therein. We find the three state legitimizing principles, having retained their mutual incompatibility intact, walked into the “peaceful use of nuclear energy” program, where they reproduced themselves in the form of the said three contradictory factors.
Split in anti-bomb movement and nuclear power
Obviously, the principal U.S. tool for organizing Japan in line with its hegemonic strategy was not the “peaceful use” psychological operation, but rather the military arrangement institutionalized by the U.S.-Japan security treaty (Anpo
), which placed Japan on the U.S. frontline in the Cold-War standoff. Being an unequal arrangement, this “alliance” also largely defined internal social relations within postwar Japan itself. When the Kishi government moved to revise the treaty to increase Japan’s responsibility in the U.S. Asian Cold War setup, a huge mass movement arose in protest (known as the Anpo
struggle), leading to the cancellation of President Eisenhower’s visit to Japan and the downfall of the Kishi cabinet in 1960 after the treaty barely passed the Diet. Gensuikyo, too, joined this struggle, taking the position that the new treaty would lead to Japan’s nuclear arming, and would therefore go against the anti-bomb movement’s basic stance .
Soon after the anti-Anpo
struggle, however, the anti-bomb movement faced a crisis and finally split along politico-ideological lines. The crisis occurred with regard to the issue of what position the movement should take toward nuclear weapons testing by socialist countries. The 1961 Seventh World Conference, which was held while the Soviet Union was still abiding by its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing, adopted a declaration on August 14th
stating that “the first country to resume nuclear testing should be condemned as the enemy of peace and humanity.” Sixteen days later, on August 31st
, the Soviet Union announced that it would resume nuclear test explosions, which it carried out on September 1st.
This shocked the movement, triggered turmoil, and resulted in severe internal struggle.
Those Gensuikyo member organizations close to the Communist Party adamantly held that the movement should not protest the Soviet Union on this matter, asserting that Soviet nuclear arms were serving to deter the U.S. from unleashing nuclear war—and therefore existed for peace. Major trade union Sohyo allied with the Socialist Party, with most other mass movement groups opposing imposition of this ideological line and sticking to the 7th
orld conference position that protests should be directed toward nuclear bomb testing by any country. This internal feud paralyzed Gensuikyo’s functions. This already acrimonious divide was further aggravated by the escalating Sino-Soviet dispute. China opposed to the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The Japanese Communist Party sided with China at this time, trying again to impose this line on the peace movement. Despite the efforts of activists to find ways to repair and restore the movement’s unity, the anti-bomb movement finally split under the initiative of the Sohyo and the Japan Socialist Party of the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (Gensuikin), who became a separate entity from Gensuikyo.
Gensuikin later became a unique peace movement organization dedicated to seriously tackling the issue of nuclear power generation (Ikeyama 1978). In addition to opposing nuclear testing by any nation, the new organization began conducting surveys on the damage suffered by Pacific Island people from nuclear tests. With these beginnings, Gensuikin gradually expanded its scope to include the destructive effects of radiation on the environment and living beings. Moritaki himself, now leading Gensuikin, began to take a definitive critical stance toward nuclear power generation, declaring that humanity and nuclear power were incompatible.
Reflecting on the past, Moritaki admitted that it had taken seven years for Gensuikin to advance from an anti-bomb-only position to encompass the present comprehensive anti-nuke position. He recalled:
Looking back on the development of our perception of nuclear issues, I find that this change of position occurred due to our growing awareness regarding the seriousness of radiation damage. At the world conference marking the 27th anniversary of the atomic bombing (1972), we adopted the slogan, “Let us oppose the introduction of nuclear power plants and spent fuel reprocessing facilities, which will cause major environmental disruption and radioactive pollution.”
While our change of position resulted largely from our deepening understanding of nuclear issues, its backdrop lay in escalating environmental destruction and pollution occurring in Japan due to high-speed economic growth, as well as the impact of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June of the same year (1972).
Domestically, local citizens’ movements against nuclear power were taking place across the country, raising the compelling need for a nation-wide umbrella network and an information center, which required expert support from scholars and specialists in the field. In response, Gensuikin began taking on these roles around this time.
Gensuikin thus emerged as a pioneer peace movement, expanding its vista to cover not only nuclear weapons, but also nuclear energy issues. By contrast, Gensuikyo, having accepted the “peaceful use of nuclear energy” as such, refused to critically take up the nuclear energy issue.
In this manner, a functional division occurred between the anti-nuclear weapons movement (understood to represent the peace movement more generally) that focused exclusively on the problem of nuclear weapons, vs. a movement aligned with other issues including local community resistance and environmental movements against destructive development projects, including the imposition of nuclear plants.
On the whole, the major split during the 1960s within the movement against atomic and hydrogen bombs caused the general decline of the once-powerful peace movement and undermined anti-bomb concerns among the public-at-large. And as public sentiment against the “military use of nuclear energy” (dubbed “nuclear allergy”) thinned away, so did the need to emphasize “peaceful use.” Through this process, the phrase “peaceful use” gradually fell out of use as I mentioned earlier. Application of nuclear technology to medicine, research using huge particle accelerators, or the like are no longer put into the single basket of “peaceful use”, but are discussed separately as topics of medicine, physics, or other disciplines.
Within this new landscape, nuclear power generation came to loom. A new era thereby arrived where “nuclear power” almost automatically and exclusively pointed to the electricity-generating nuclear power industry.
Formation of the nuclear power regime and national security
In Japan, as well as worldwide, the 1960s was a decade in which nuclear power took off as an industry in its own right. Japan’s commercial use of nuclear power began with its first commercial power-generating reactor going critical in Tokaimura, Ibaraki prefecture in 1966. This was followed by the commissioning of 20 more reactors in the 1970s, an additional 16 in the 1980s, 15 in the 1990s, and 5 during the 2000s—a nearly linear progression of 1.5 million kilowatts of power output added per year (Yoshioka 2011). During this period, the Japanese nuclear industry grew into a major industrial sector created and fostered by the state. With the “military vs. peaceful” juxtaposition gone, nuclear power appeared to fit cleanly within the parameters of the country’s energy policy.
In fact, however, this was not at all the case. With the signaling of the advent of some certain entity whose mission went beyond meeting energy needs, this was a solid politico-industrial core labeled “nuclear power” that was organically built into the statehood itself. Science and technology historian Yoshioka named this structure centering on nuclear power the “nuclear power regime.” The basic policy goal of this regime, according to Yoshioka, is “to keep an advanced nuclear technology and nuclear industry inside the country for the sake of maintaining the basis of national security.” He called this definition the axiom of Japanese nuclear power.
Yoshioka points out that what may be called a nuclear power complex was constituted on the basis of this “axiom” in the very core of Japanese statehood, similar in nature to the U.S. military-industrial complex. The nuclear complex is constituted primarily by the four major stakeholders, namely, the government agencies overseeing nuclear industry, electric power utilities, politicians with an interest in nuclear business, and local governments with vested interest in nuclear plants in their jurisdictions. All are united under the aegis of the government bureaucracy, and joined by reactor manufacturers and academics as additional club members. What has recently been identified as the “nuclear village” is nothing else than this core structure.
Yoshioka goes on to explain what he meant by this nuclear power axiom (Yoshioka 2011):
The axiom posits that Japan, while refraining from nuclear arming, should follow the policy of holding fast to its technological and industrial potential to go nuclear any time, and uses this fact as a vital element of its national security arrangement. With this, the stability of the military alliance between Japan on the one hand and the United States (whose national security is based on the maintenance of nuclear weapons) on the other is guaranteed.
The term “nuclear power for national security” carries an auxiliary implication that the possession of advanced technological and industrial nuclear capacity is a significant source of national prestige. A strong nuclear capability, so to speak, means a strong nation. Also, the term “national security” has the connotation of “energy security,” reflecting Japan’s particular experience during World War II. This aspect, energy security, is given particular emphasis when the audience is the general public.
To satisfy the requirement of this axiom, particular importance is given to sensitive nuclear technologies. Because of its relevance to national security, the nuclear policy is classed as one of the cardinal state policies.
Axiom, indeed, is a deftly chosen expression. Axiom is a fundamental statement assumed to be true. It therefore rejects verification, and negates the right to question. Embedded and craftily hidden within this axiom is the copulation of atomic power and the military in a modality that is very specialized to the postwar Japanese state. The connecting element is the nuclear power generation, which is a military presence in non-military form. Nuclear power is presented to the public, however, only as an energy industry. The post-3.11 rhetoric of the nuclear power apologists is unanimous. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, politicians, business circles, and pro-nuke media have been warning in unison that without nuclear power, the country would fail to cope due to a severe energy supply shortage. The assumption here is that nuclear power exists exclusively to cater for the people’s energy needs. The fact, however, is that the nuclear regime has long shown only its energy-supplying face to the public, while continuing to hide its other face—that of a nuclear bomb—behind a secretive curtain.
This axiom notwithstanding, it is interesting to note that through the decades we have not heard the crude, belligerent advocacy of nuclear arming through the operation of nuclear plants as we did with the 1954 inception of “peaceful use.” Instead, the nuclear arming discourse has shifted its locus elsewhere, that is, to the arena of Constitutional interpretation.
It was Nobusuke Kishi who initiated this shift of ground. Kishi, as is well known, was a minister of the wartime Tojo Cabinet. Arrested as class-A war criminal, he spent three years in Sugamo Prison until he was released in 1948. After the occupation ended in 1952, he was once again allowed to become a politician. He quickly ran up the ladder of conservative politics, appointed Prime Minister in 1957. Soon after taking office, Kishi announced to the Upper House that possession of nuclear bombs would not necessarily be against the Constitution as long as it was for national defense purposes. He also stated at the Lower House that “while people are saying that anything called nuclear weapons are unconstitutional, that is in fact an incorrect reading of the Constitution.” Kishi was a diehard advocate of constitutional revision, so as long as he had to rule under that constitution, he had to invent that outrageous reading of it. The Kishi version of constitutional interpretation has since been inherited by successive Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) administrations. Interestingly, however, the discourse on constitutionality was situated in a space severed from the nuclear power industry. The form (constitutionality) and the substance (the nuclear weapon making capability) were deliberately kept at a certain distance from one another, so to speak, but stood ready to be paired together at anytime should it become expedient to do so.
Yoshioka’s angle of perceiving the nuclear power regime as the core of the national security arrangement bears a decisive relevance in grasping the post-3.11 situation. True, in recent days the mainstream media too have begun making open critical references to the “nuclear village.” However, critical views in the media are mostly from one angle—that of the unsavory collusion of power utilities and bureaucracy as an interest group—while the whole nuclear power issue tends to be discussed as an energy matter. Here, one important angle is missing: the relevance of nuclear power to national security as the latter’s core, which most criticisms miss, or dare not touch.
For postwar Japan, national security is a uniquely composite construct whose state of being at any given time is determined by the interplay of three distinct elements: (1) the U.S. nuclear umbrella provided under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, (2) Japan’s war capability, and (3) constitutional pacifism and democracy. Here again, these three elements roughly correspond, respectively, to the three legitimating principles of the postwar Japanese state as I discussed earlier. And here again, the three elements are in mutual contradiction.
Japan’s own nuclear capability-building (element 2) by nature falls within the category of activity substantiating the second state-defining principle (that of imperial continuity), while also finding itself in a delicate, possibly contradictory, relationship with element (1) —namely, the Japan-U.S. security arrangements.
Since the principle of U.S. hegemony is still the strongest of the three defining principles of the postwar Japanese state, ruling groups in Japan would run a great risk if they decided to build the nation’s own nuclear force in defiance of the American policy of keeping Japan away from a nuclear arsenal. This is the kind of adventure they certainly do not dare to embark upon. On the other hand, they have not succeeded in making a breakthrough to revise the constitution, and so Japan’s war capability (element 2) is still under constitutional constraint (element 3). Besides, for Japan to withdraw from the NPT and go nuclear would mean its total isolation in the international community.
Now, let me examine how these contradictory elements have been interacting with one another, and what role nuclear power has been playing in this process of interaction.
Sato Administration: The “nuclear armament card”
The first Japanese Prime Minister to place Japan’s nuclearization on the political agenda was Eisaku Sato. He ruled for seven years, from 1964 to 1972, during a period of dramatic historic events, particularly in Asia, including the Vietnam War and the Sino-Soviet conflict. The nuclear factor was also at work, impacting the entire scenario at a deep-seated level.
Let me run quickly through the chronology of this turbulent period. In 1965, the United States started intense aerial bombing on North Vietnam, and sent massive ground troops to South Vietnam. The war quickly intensified, as did the global protests against it. Engaged in escalating antagonisms with the Soviet Union, China conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964—thereby becoming the fifth nuclear power. In 1966, Mao Zedong unleashed a turbulent movement throughout China known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. This was followed by the opening of the NPT for signature in 1968, with 62 states first signing it. While the United States lost its prospect for victory in Vietnam under the impact of the Tet offensive in 1968, Sino-Soviet relations continued to aggravate, reaching the point of an exchange of fire on Zhenbao Island in 1969 with China feeling that it faced a Soviet nuclear attack. The rapprochement between China and the United States, which began with a secret visit by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Beijing in 1971, followed by President Nixon’s visit there in 1972, shocked the world as an epoch-making event in the entire postwar period. Both China and the United States needed this rapprochement for their respective purposes: China to counter the Soviet nuclear threat, and the U.S. to ease its exodus from Vietnam and strengthen its position vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.
Throughout this stormy period, Sato stayed on as Prime Minister of Japan. When the U.S. began its war of aggression in Vietnam, he unreservedly took the side of the United States and assisted its war. U.S. military bases in Japan became staging points for military operations against Vietnam, and Japanese civilian facilities and services were mobilized for U.S. military use. ODA funds were funneled to South Vietnam and surrounding countries that were on the U.S. side of the war. B-52 bomber planes began to take off from U.S. military bases in Okinawa. As for South Korea, not only were its troops sent to Vietnam to fight on the ground, but the country was also pressured by the U.S. into accepting a humiliating treaty of “normalization” of relations with Japan. Japan signed the treaty in 1965, supporting the Park Chung-hi military regime and beginning to advance into the country economically. In the midst of this development, Sato began negotiations with the United States regarding the reversion of Okinawa to Japan.
Domestically, this was a tumultuous time. People’s rebellious actions were spreading all over the country, challenging the government’s pro-U.S. war policies and the established social order. Anti-war and anti-Anpo
movements against the U.S. aggression of Vietnam, notably the Beheiren
movement and street actions led by new left organizations, gathered momentum. These were later joined by a new student movement known as the Zenkyoto
movement, which included the occupation and barricading of 80% of major university campuses throughout the country. Social movements also spread to other social sectors with the rise of women’s liberation, disabled people, and grassroots community struggles against the imposition of development projects in places such as Sanrizuka and Minamata.
The protest against the American war in Vietnam had the broadest social base. This movement soon began to direct its attention to the complicity of the Sato government in the U.S. war, targeting the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty that underlay this collaboration.
In U.S-ruled Okinawa, which was fully organized into the U.S. war machinery, a powerful people’s movement arose that involved practically the whole population, who demanded their islands’ reversion to Japan. They were pressuring the Japanese government, which had abandoned their islands to U.S. military rule, to take them back as a territory clear of American nuclear weapons. The movement slogans were “reversion without nukes” and “equality with the mainland.”
It was amidst this stormy situation that Prime Minister Sato secretly ordered that investigations be made into the feasibility of manufacturing Japan’s own nuclear weapons. Visiting U.S.-ruled Okinawa in 1965, as the first prime minister to do so, Sato declared that the postwar period would not be over for Japan until Okinawa had been returned. He went on to negotiate with the Johnson and then the Nixon administrations in this regard, and Okinawa was reverted to Japanese rule in 1972 under the Okinawa reversion agreement.
In this Okinawa reversion drama, the still non-existent Japanese nuclear bomb was playing a role as an invisible actor. In 1965, shortly after taking office, Prime Minister Sato visited Washington for a talk with President Lyndon Johnson. During a separate meeting, Secretary of State Dean Rusk asked how the Japanese Prime Minister thought Japan would respond to China’s nuclearization. Sato replied that while popular sentiment held that Japan must not possess nuclear weapons, his own personal opinion was that if China had them, so should Japan. Yuko Fujita, in the essay I quoted earlier, observed that for the first time as a Japanese prime minister, Sato at that time “used Japan’s willingness to go nuclear as a diplomatic card.” The development involving studies on nuclearization during the Sato era began to be reported as media scoops in the mid-1990s, and now, following the change of government in 2009, relevant archives continue to be disclosed to the public. In that same frame of time, I myself was in the midst of the anti-Vietnam war and Okinawa movements. I now realize, however, that I did not take heed of the nuclear armament process that was simultaneously under way. And it was not only me: I think the antiwar movement generally failed to focus upon this issue at that time.
On October 3, 2010, NHK broadcast a documentary titled “Special Exclusive Report: Japan's Nuclear Arms Pursuit,” providing a shocking account of Japanese Foreign Ministry officials’ having secretly approached West Germany regarding a common effort to nuclear arm their countries while circumventing the NPT. Germany sent officials to Japan to discuss this project, and a secret meeting was held in the Japanese hot spring resort of Hakone. The NHK program included testimonies from some of the diplomatic officials of the two countries who were directly involved in this process. The German side backed off, however, and the process led nowhere. Compelled by this and other exposés, in November 2010 the Foreign Ministry had to disclose a dossier of approximately 100 “top secret” documents related to the Sato government’s nuclear armament-related activities. Included among them was a cardinal document titled “Diplomatic Policy Outline of Our Country,” dated September 25, 1969, which was authored by a diplomatic policy planning committee appointed by Prime Minister Sato. These records vividly portrayed how intensely the Sato administration was working on this issue in the face of China’s nuclearization, as well as pressure to decide Japan’s response toward the NPT.
In fact, intense and energetic activities took place under Sato’s order to study the feasibility of a nuclear-armed Japan. From 1967 through 1970, a number of reports and proposals were made regarding the technical, strategic, diplomatic, and political feasibility of Japan’s nuclear armament. This multifarious study process was promoted by the Cabinet, Foreign Ministry, Defense Agency, and top officials of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, who were working in varying public, semi-public and private capacities. Among the major reports then published was a series of studies titled “National Security of Japan” produced by a “private” group, the National Security Research Association, consisting of mid-level officials of the Defense Agency. The agency’s incumbent director, Osamu Kaihara, organized this group himself. The group’s reports were published in a series by the Asagumo Shimbunsha
, the publisher of a newspaper meant exclusively for a Self-Defense Force audience. A long paper titled “The potential capacity of our nation to manufacture nuclear weapons”, printed in the 1968 series of “Japan’s National Security,” minutely detailed the possibility of converting Japan’s nuclear power plants into nuclear weapons manufacturing factories. The report suggested that if Japan were to go nuclear, it would be more purposeful to produce plutonium warheads than uranium ones, which would require enrichment. The report concluded that construction of a reprocessing plant was a must for the purpose at hand. Most studies made at the time did not support the idea of going nuclear, as it would draw the suspicion of the United States and cause diplomatic isolation from neighboring countries. The feasibility study under Sato, however, corroborated the idea that if only there was will to do so, Japan could go nuclear at any time. This was extremely significant, as it brought down the nuclear armament issue from the abstract level of constitutionality down to the earth, at a level of feasibility.
And the official conclusion that was drawn from the Sato-directed nuclearization feasibility studies? This was succinctly summarized by the “National Diplomatic Policy Outline” in the following words:
As regards nuclear weapons, Japan, regardless of whether it signs the NPT or not, will for the time being follow the policy of not possessing nuclear weapons, but will constantly maintain the economic and technological capability to produce them, and will stay alert so that this capability not be subjected to any constraints. Also, it should be explained to the public that the policy toward nuclear weapons in general is a matter to be predicated on calculation of advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of international politics and economics.
The above is the proclamation of Japan’s definite position that its nuclear power may be channeled into nuclear weapons manufacturing at any time, and that even though affiliating with the NPT, Japan would retain the freedom to take measure to escape its bind if necessary. The “outline” says that Japan was pursuing the policy of not possessing nuclear weapons, but only “for the time being.” It also pledges to reeducate the Japanese people so that they abandon their absolutely anti-nuclear bomb stance.
After pros and cons exchanged over years, Japan finally signed the NPT in 1970. In doing so, however, the Japanese government issued a special statement specifically taking note of the treaty’s ‘right of withdrawal’ clause. Japan delayed its ratification until as late as 1976.
The “nuclear card”: How it worked
Now, about Sato’s “nuclear card.” Did it work in his diplomatic maneuver? The use of the “nuclear card” implied this deal: Sato first flashes the card to hint that he is eager to go nuclear, and then in front of a disapproving U.S., concedes by saying “no, no, we can refrain from it for the time being,” (offering the “three non-nuclear principles” as the guarantee) in the hopes of obtaining the reversion of a nuclear-free Okinawa in exchange, plus guarantee of protection under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Was this deal struck?
I’m afraid that the reality was not that simple. As has now been fully documented, the Okinawa deal had as its essential component a secret agreement whereby Japan was made to agree that nuclear weapons could be brought into Okinawa in contingency situations. A “nuclear-free Okinawa” and the three non-nuclear principles were thus made hollow and illusory right from the beginning.
Most importantly, the Okinawa reversion meant the turnover of responsibility for the control of Okinawa as a U.S. military colony from the United States to the Japanese government. The U.S. thus entrusted to the Japanese government the heavy task of handling the Okinawa people’s resistance against their military colony status. The United States, of course, had more to gain than lose from this deal. In the 1969 Sato-Nixon joint statement, where Okinawan reversion to Japan was promised, Japan had also to show further loyalty to the U.S. by taking on the responsibility for the security of the Korean peninsula, deeming it “essential to the security of Japan.”
Despite Sato’s giving in to such U.S. demands, Nixon and Kissinger did not care at all about how Japan would feel betrayed when they developed a new diplomatic strategy in the region. That was the United States’ abrupt rapprochement with China, arranged through Kissinger’s secret visit to Beijing in July 1971, followed by President Nixon’s visit in the following year. Not a word was said regarding this about-face to Japan, which had been obediently voting against China’s seat in the United Nations until 1971. To the Japanese government, this was a heavy slap in the face.
And there was more to Japan merely being ignored by the United States. During their talks in Beijing in 1971, Kissinger and Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai discussed Japan as an issue of shared concern, citing the dangers of Japan’s potential nuclear armament and imperial reentry into Asia. Their talk went on like this:
Dr. Kissinger: A Japan which defends itself with its own resources will be an objective danger to all countries around it because it will be so much more powerful. Therefore, I believe that its present relationship with the U.S. is actually a restraint on Japan…So it is important that we understand each other about Japan, and that we both show restraint vis-à-vis Japan…First, we are opposed to the nuclear rearmament of Japan…Secondly, we are in favor of keeping the conventional rearmament of Japan to limits which are adequate for the defense of the four Japanese islands and for nothing else…And we recognize that the problem of the economic development of Japan is one that concerns the whole world at this moment and not only Japan itself…
Prime Minister Zhou: if you say you do not want a nuclear Japan, does that mean you would give Japan a nuclear protective umbrella because they can use that to threaten others?....
Dr. Kissinger: It is very difficult to talk about hypothetical situations, but in any military conflict which would be produced by an attempt by Japan to extend, I doubt very seriously that the nuclear umbrella would apply. The nuclear umbrella applies primarily to a nuclear attack on the Japanese islands. It stands to reason that we are no more likely to use a nuclear umbrella for Japan than we are for ourselves; in fact, less likely. But the Japanese have the ability to produce nuclear weapons very quickly.
Prime Minister Chou: That’s possible.
Dr. Kissinger: If we are to withdraw, their peaceful nuclear energy program gives them enough plutonium so they could easily build nuclear weapons. So the alternative is really a Japanese nuclear program which would be very much less desirable, and which we oppose.
What Kissinger invoked here was the so-called “cork in the bottle” theory. One month following his visit to China, Nixon abolished dollar-gold convertibility, again without prior notice to Japan—the second “Nixon shock” from Japan’s perspective. Since this time, the U.S. has never totally scrapped the “cork in the bottle” theory, continuing to hold Japan in suspicion over its nuclear intentions.
Sato’s “nuclear card” had patently backfired.
Two strategic cover-ups: First, nuclear power
The effect of the “nuclear card” aside, the nuclear power regime was given birth precisely by the nuclear armament capability-building drive of the Sato period. Japan’s nuclear capability was developed along the lines of the doctrine laid down in the above-introduced policy document, “Diplomatic Policy Outline of Our Country.” It was as part of the Sato-prepared program that heavy institutional arrangements promoting nuclear capability were installed. Thus, the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC) was set up under the Science and Technology Agency to produce high-grade plutonium and to prepare for the construction and operation of spent fuel-reprocessing plants and fast-breeder reactors. Also established under the Science and Technology Agency was the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), for the strategical government purpose of incorporating rocket technology development so that nuclear missiles would be available once they were needed.
In order to avoid these arrangements being read as steps to build up nuclear weapon manufacturing capacity, the government simultaneously adopted the nuclear fuel cycle policy—namely that of reprocessing spent fuel into plutonium and feeding it to fast breeders as fuel. Fujita stresses this aspect, saying that the nuclear fuel cycle program was instrumental in giving the impression that nuclear power development in Japan was genuinely an energy program having nothing to do with the ambitions of someday producing nuclear weapons. But since the fast breeder produces high-grade weapons-level plutonium through its power generating operation, this should indeed be a poor camouflage. The image that comes to mind is something like a bird burying its head in the sand with its tail patently visible.
In any event, the nuclear industrial complex as the core of Japan’s national security emerged in full force, cloaked in the innocent guise of the energy industry. This complex soon established itself as a mighty interest group dominating society. Once in operation, however, the nuclear power industry had to begin proving itself as a potent provider of electricity for industry and society, with its other mission—acting as the custodian of weapon-making—being kept secret from the public. The nuclear fuel cycle policy and fast breeder reactor therefore became imperatives, no matter how technologically hopeless they may have been.
But the reality betrayed this imperative. The fast breeder Monju—which is the key facility to close the nuclear fuel cycle—never worked and is still stuck; the major reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura on the northernmost tip of Honshu island has failed to go into operation; and last but not least, with the fast breeder plan stranded, there are no definitive plans about how the nuclear waste from so many reactors will be disposed of. Given these facts, the plain reality is that the Japanese nuclear industry lacks even the minimum qualifications of a private business. Therefore, it must go on as a state-sponsored, state-protected project. In this regard, too, the nuclear industry has much in common with the military as the branch of state that by nature does not take care of its actions’ aftermath, nor is concerned with sound business rules. The nuclear industry, therefore, is fated to face a series of vital and legitimate questions asked by the public, of which I am sure it would be able to answer none.
It is for this reason that the nuclear industry, in order to survive, needs to brainwash civil society. It must convince the majority of people that nuclear energy is clean, safe, ecological, cheap, and necessary in order to fend off questions before they may even be asked. Give the public no chance to question and object!
In order for this to happen, subsidies were lavished from the state coffers under the power source development promotion law and other related laws to buy off whole communities where the nuclear plants are located. Electric power companies, being regional monopolies, should not need advertisements in TV and print media. Nevertheless, they dumped astronomical sums of money for PR not only in major mainstream media, but also through smaller media in order to help sell positive images of nuclear power. Dependent on power utilities’ money, major media long turned into cheerleading squads that promoted the gospel of nuclear power by using popular figures to appear in TV programs. Within these celebrations of nuclear power, critical opinion leaders and commentators were totally ostracized. Similarly, power companies heavily subsidized academia and research projects related to nuclear power, successfully organizing academic apologists who spread the myth of safe, clean, and cheap energy. After 3.11, the appalling size of this buy-off operation began to be exposed as the power companies’ money pipe became clogged.
This massive pro-nuclear power propaganda was meant not only to conceal the dangers of nuclear power to the environment and living beings, however. What it principally aimed to cover up was the nuclear power industry’s core purpose of maintaining, enhancing, and updating Japan’s nuclear armament potentiality. In this sense, the cover-up was of a strategic nature.
Strategic cover-up 2: Base burden on Okinawa
It is important here to note that nuclear power was not the only area of strategic cover-up. In the 1960s and 1970s, the LDP government put deliberate policies into practice to erase the visibility of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty issue from the arena of national politics.
The Japan-U.S. security treaty issue was, and increasingly is, a core issue in Japanese politics as a whole. In 1951, Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty. With the treaty signed, Japan relinquished Okinawa to U.S. military rule, and simultaneously concluded the first security treaty with the United States providing for the continuation of U.S. military bases and troops in Japanese territory. The scheme of coupling the peace treaty with the U.S. military presence in the early 1950s became a central political issue that divided the public into pros and cons. It was, rather, after the occupation was ended in 1952 that anti-U.S. base struggles flared up and spread all over Japan. Coming into national focus at this time was an incident known as the Sunagawa Struggle against the expansion of the Tachikawa U.S. base in Sunagawa, located in Tokyo’s outskirts. There, facing police onslaught, masses of people from the student movement, labor movement, peace movement and other groups joined the rural community to protect the farm lands from confiscation. Moreover, in a lawsuit filed in connection with this struggle, Judge Akio Date of the Tokyo district court ruled in 1959 that the Japan-U.S. security treaty was unconstitutional in a constitutionally demilitarized country. Startled, the United States ambassador directly intervened to have this decision overturned by the Supreme Court. As detailed earlier, 1954 saw the rise of the grassroots movement against nuclear bombs. This was followed by the largest postwar political struggle in Japan’s history, the Anpo struggle of 1959-1960, which aborted President Eisenhower’s visit to Tokyo, sending shockwaves through Washington. For the LDP government depending on U.S. backing as its political pillar, Anpo proved an extremely dangerous issue. The best policy to handle it, they thought, would be to get it off the agenda of national politics.
One way to do so was to draw public attention away from the Anpo issue. Hayato Ikeda, who stepped into power after Kishi, launched his Income-Doubling Plan, a project of rapid economic growth that promised a better life for the people. This program worked, diluting Anpo-related popular political awareness and diverting public attention away from political issues to private life and economic development.
The most effective means to remove Anpo from the visible national political agenda, however, was to get as much of the U.S. military presence as possible moved away from mainland Japan to Okinawa. Obviously, the U.S. military bases were the conspicuous, substantive part of the Anpo arrangements that invited popular antipathy. Okinawa historian Moriteru Arasaki points out that the 1960 Anpo treaty revision and the 1972 Okinawa reversion involved a large-scale reduction in U.S. bases in mainland Japan and concomitant drastic increase in U.S. base areas in Okinawa, as well as Okinawa’s share in the national total of U.S. base areas. Arasaki exposed the fact that after the 1960 upsurge of the anti-Anpo protest, U.S. military bases in mainland Japan shrank by two-thirds in total size while those in Okinawa doubled. While the areas covered by U.S. bases were about the same in mainland and Okinawa in the 1960s, the area in the mainland diminished sharply beginning in 1969, the year that reversion of Okinawa was agreed upon, meaning that by 1974, the ratio of distribution changed to a heavily Okinawa-skewed 1:3. Thus, in the current state of affairs, the area-wise concentration consists of two-thirds of U.S. bases in a territory representing only 0.6% of the total Japanese territory. (Arasaki, 2006)
After the surge of radical social and political movements from 1965 through the early 1970s ebbed, Anpo ceased to be a contested national issue in mainland Japan. This did not mean, however, that the struggles and actions related to Anpo issues had disappeared. In the 1980s, an international anti-nuke campaign was organized worldwide in response to the threatening outbreak of thermonuclear catastrophe in the New Cold War, with the numerically huge mobilization of 500,000 people in Tokyo carried out in response. The demonstration, however, did not directly address the Nakasone-Reagan alliance that assigned Japan to a strategic frontline Cold War position. As regards U.S. military bases in mainland Japan, anti-base and anti-war activities have been tenaciously sustained within communities surrounding major U.S. bases including Yokosuka, Iwakuni, and Yokota. Protest campaigns were also organized against the overseas dispatch of Self-Defense Force troops during the Gulf War and recent Bush wars, and campaigns were organized against the new Japan-U.S. Joint Defense Guidelines as the latest U.S. arrangement to mobilize Japan in war situations.
In the mainstream media, however, Anpo has become a taboo topic. Whoever now dares to critically touch it in public comments would run the risk of exclusion, or else being regarded as either a dangerous element or an outdated fool.
Anpo was effectively exported by force to Okinawa and erased from the mainland. It met powerful and sustained resistance where it settled, however, as the people of Okinawa refused to take on the burden of the bases saddled on their shoulders for the convenience of mainland Japanese politics. Originating in the 1995 island-wide protest movement in response to the rape of a young schoolgirl by U.S. soldiers, the current wave of Okinawa’s protest movement has taken on the nature of a struggle hitting at the very core of its dual colonial domination by the United States and the Japanese state. Under the impact of these protests, the plot of the strategic Anpo cover-up has begun to crack.
All told, the period under review, namely, 1965-72, was a crucial period largely shaping the configuration of later development. Most importantly, it was then that the three strategic elements of the postwar state—Anpo, Okinawa, and nuclear power—were organically combined under overwhelming American hegemonic influence and integrated by strategic cover-up into the fabric of the Japanese “national security” setup while still retaining their inherent mutual contradictions. The three non-nuclear principles (complemented by the clandestine agreement of saying yes to nuclear weapons introduction as a contingency) are in fact a rubber band flexibly connecting this warlike machinery to the constitutional system for the sake of a semblance of legality.
These three elements were pieced together in the following formation: The United States, still viewing Okinawa as its military colony wherein free use by its military is allowed in the same manner as previously, entrusts the territory’s management and control to the Japanese government—thereby itself evading administrative responsibility for it, while Japan integrates Okinawa as its domestic colony and takes upon itself the responsibility of ruling Okinawa with U.S. bases as an integral component thereof. In exchange for this arrangement, Japan would receive what would look like a guarantee of “protection” by the U.S. strategic system, or the nuclear umbrella, under which Japan would work to strengthen its self-defense forces as a part of the U.S. strategy, while maintaining and strengthening its own technological and economic foundation for its nuclear armament by dint of the all-powerful nuclear power complex.
This formation was created through the Okinawa deal 40 years ago, and surprisingly, its basic structure continues to this day.
“Cork in the Bottle” Theory: Who used the nuclear card to whom?
It is not that nothing has changed, though. On the contrary, Japan’s “national security” environment has changed dramatically during the four interim decades, with one epochal event breaking out after another: the end of the Cold War, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, 9.11 and the U.S. war on terror, hegemonic tensions between the U.S. and China, and—last but not least—the Fukushima crisis. Here, I am not attempting a rundown of these major events. Instead, I will pick one story line for scrutiny that stands out amidst the 40 years of the Japan-U.S. relationship: the “cork in the bottle” theory.
By this, I mean that I am inquiring into how the U.S. has reacted to any move on the part of Japan to politically and militarily distance itself, if even slightly, from the U.S. designed orbit of action; as well as how Japan would respond to—or act in anticipation of—any likely U.S. reaction.
Interestingly, whenever this kind of situation arises, the context of Japan’s nuclear armament inevitably emerges as well. The U.S. is acutely nervous and sensitive to Japan’s moving even half a step off-course from the U.S.-drawn path, and moves quickly to rectify it. In doing so, the U.S. almost always invokes the danger of Japan going nuclear. The U.S. theory holds that Japan either stays under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, or goes nuclear for itself. This theory is partly used to impress Asian neighbors with the importance of the U.S. control of Japan.
In reality, however, the option for an immediate walkout from under the U.S. nuclear umbrella and building Japan’s own nuclear striking force has never secured a solid position within Japanese mainstream politics. In fact, even the Sato government’s nuclear enthusiasm, as we saw earlier, did not lead to an autonomous nuclear armament program. The above-quoted “outline” includes the following passages immediately before the earlier cited nuclear armament paragraph. The full text reads:
1 Policy measures concerning national security
(3) Public opinion in our country is expected to become increasingly unfavorable to the conspicuous presence of the United States military forces in our territory. While avoiding sudden dramatic changes in the status quo, we need to establish our future vision preempting this change of public opinion by gradually building a national security framework that is based on our independent national identity.
In terms of the security of our national territory, we rely on the United States only with regard to its nuclear deterrence, its large-scale mobile air and sea forces in the western Pacific, and its logistics, while aiming to take on ourselves all other functions using our own self-defense capabilities. In terms of security in the Far East, particularly the Korean peninsula, we offer the U.S. only some key military bases and facilities as peacetime deterrence. As for the use of such bases in contingencies, we will strive to keep our related institutions fully ready to facilitate their use by the U.S. forces and to provide our support for U.S. actions.
(4) Our Self-Defense Forces (SDF) must be upgraded in quality and size, and measures must be taken to introduce necessary laws, revise existing laws, and improve related administrative institutions so that their self-defense capabilities will be put into full play in emergency situations. At the same time, and in exchange for these arrangements, the U.S. bases will gradually be consolidated and reduced in scale, while on principle, U.S.-vacated bases should be taken over by the SDF. As for some U.S. bases that have vital importance to the defense of Japan and the Republic of Korea, they should be kept in the country so that deterrent power is maintained.
In shorthand, the “outline” advocated a revisionist version of Anpo, an arrangement whereby the mainstay of the U.S. troops come and stay only when required by emergency. According to this vision, Japan will keep Anpo relations with the U.S. and remain under the American nuclear umbrella, but will reduce the U.S. military presence along with its bases and enhance the capacity of the JSDF, thus reducing Japan’s relative dependence upon the U.S. while simultaneously retaining Japan’s capability to go nuclear at any time as a form of diplomatic deterrence.
Since the Sato administration went seriously beyond research and study to challenge the task of building up Japan’s potential nuclear weapons manufacturing capability, it is not surprising that Kissinger and Zhou Enlai took up Japan’s nuclearization issue in their talks rather seriously. However, we know that Sato’s “nuclear card” diplomacy fell short of actual nuclear armament.
On the U.S. part, the Nixon-Kissinger response to Sato’s “nuclear card” was harsh. Not only did Washington ignore and bypass Japan in its rapprochement with Beijing, but Kissinger turned the “Sato card” into a Kissinger card in his Beijing negotiations. As the transcript shows, he used it to persuade Zhou Enlai into accepting the need for a U.S. military presence in Japan. This development indicates how vindictively sensitive the U.S. is to any move on the Japanese part to alter the terms of existing Japan-U.S. relations. It is not probable that Kissinger was truly concerned about Japan going nuclear and breaking off U.S. bondage. Rather, the Kissinger-prompted U.S. -China joint stance to restrain Japan’s economic and military ambitions served to intimidate Japan—by then a tough U.S. economic rival—deeper into the United States’ pocket. It was a message, in essence, telling Japan to behave. Incidentally, President George W. Bush recalled in his memoirs that in January 2003, some 40 years after the Kissinger-Chou talks, he had told Chinese President Jiang Zemin that if North Korea continued developing nuclear weapons, the U.S. would not be able to prevent Japan from going nuclear (Yomiuri Shimbun, November 10, 2010)—yet another case of Japan’s nuclear card being flashed to China not by Japan, but by the United States. The “cork in the bottle” theory has proven to have an extremely long life indeed.
It was around that time, I contend, that a formula had settled governing the dynamics of U.S.-Japan relationship, wherein any gesture or hint on the part of Japan to walk away from the U.S. never failed to boomerang in the form of a vindictive U.S. reaction to place Japan under even tighter military and political control than before.
In the context of this swing-back effect, the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone during the 1980s is worth examining. Precisely speaking, the trigger in this case was not pulled by Nakasone, but by his predecessor premier Zenko Suzuki, an adherent to the “exclusively defensive defense” doctrine. He was known for his advocacy of a “hedgehog state,” or a Japan whose coastlines are strewn with numerous military defense posts to successfully intercept enemy landings on the seashore. Suzuki visited Washington in 1981, and following his meeting with President Reagan, he stated at a press conference that the “alliance” relations between Japan and the U.S. had no military connotation – surprising and incurring the wrath of Washington. Although Suzuki pledged to cooperate in sea-lane defense, he was not forgiven, and the relationship between the two countries became strained. This reflected a clash between a revisionist version of constitutional pacifism (“exclusively defensive defense”) and U.S. hegemonic doctrine.
This “dove” prime minister was succeeded by known “hawk” Yasuhiro Nakasone, who was already notorious in Washington as an anti-American nationalist. During his election campaign, he reportedly had his supporters sing a song, “Change the constitution!” which he himself wrote. The words went like this:
Ah, defeated in the war, we see the enemy troops come in and stay,
Under the name of peace and democracy,
The Occupation imposed on us a constitution of their making
All to disintegrate our nation,
The state of unconditional surrender will last
As long as this constitution stays,
If you tell us to abide by this MacArthur-made constitution,
You are telling us to remain MacArthur’s slaves forever…
This represents a perfect specimen of the thought and mentality of those who adhere to what I call the principle of imperial continuity. Though from a diametrically opposed angle from Suzuki’s, Nakasone’s stance as a matter of principle would preclude cooperation with the United States.
After becoming Prime Minister and visiting Washington in 1983, however, this same person made an acrobatic about-face, emerging overnight as a fully U.S.-loyal Cold War warrior. Perhaps, in order to be accepted by Washington, Nakasone had no other choice. Not only did he tell Ronald Reagan that “Japan and the U.S. are a community sharing the same destiny,” but he also went out of the way to tell Washington press reporters that Japan, as the frontline of the confrontation with the Soviet Union, stood ready to serve as an unsinkable aircraft carrier. He assured that Japan would shoot down penetrating Soviet Backfire bombers, and in the event of emergency, would blockade its three choke points—the straits of Soya, Tsugaru, and Tsushima—to contain the Soviet Pacific fleet within the Sea of Japan.
The “New Cold War” was at its dangerous height at the time, threatening an outbreak of thermonuclear warfare. The Reagan administration was impetuously pressing Japan to take on a heavier military role in the anti-Soviet strategy. Nakasone, by his exaggerated promises of loyalty, ventured to cross off his predecessor’s failure to comply and at once to redeem himself following his own previous image as an anti-American nationalist. He was successful in this approach, and the so-called “Ron-Yasu relationship”—the first name calling intimacy of which Nakasone used to often boast—served as an important political asset to keep him at the helm of the state for four years.
In any case, Nakasone’s previous blatant anti-U.S. rhetoric required him a disproportionately drastic swing back to a pro-American extreme. This formula provides that the initial swing shall be compensated for by a larger swing back. This rule seems to have a long life regulating the basics of U.S.-Japan relationship. And it still does even today.
The early 1990s, when the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union disappeared, could have been a decisive turning point for Japan to critically review Japan-U.S. relations. At that point, The Anpo treaty, a product of the anti-communist Cold War, had lost its targets and purposes. Moves within Japan to review the relevance of the Anpo system, however, were weak and rare. On the contrary, Japan made a breakthrough in the opposite direction during that period, with more military commitment in the form of the first overseas dispatch of SDF soldiers to join the U.S. forces fighting the Gulf War. This was done under the plausible slogan of “Japan’s international contribution.”
Even so, some moves were made to critically review the Cold War-era security arrangements. In 1993, a non-LDP coalition government came to power headed by Prime Minister Hosokawa Moriteru, who appointed a committee headed by Asahi Beer Co. President Kotaro Higuchi that was tasked with reviewing national security policy in light of the post-Cold War international realities. The report submitted by this committee recommended the creation of a new multilateral security system in Asia. While the U.S.-Japan security treaty should continue as the basis of national security, the report said, Japan should simultaneously promote the creation of a multilateral security arrangement in cooperation with other Asian countries. Despite its tepid wording, the U.S. reacted with vehement opposition to the proposal and set out to roll it back.
The result of the “swing back” this time was the “redefinition” of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty via a 1996 joint statement by President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto. This declaration was tantamount to revising the 1960 security treaty, and changing its objectives by skipping all due procedures normally required to amend a treaty. The redefined security arrangement was predicated on Japan’s commitment to a new post-Cold War U.S. strategy, which declared that despite the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military presence in East Asia would be maintained. The U.S. would continue to protect its “full spectrum dominance,” and never tolerate the emergence of any power to challenge it. Japan was urged to subscribe to this patently American-ego centered strategy, and it did so.
With the redefined Anpo as leverage, a counter-offensive was launched against an anti-base movement in Okinawa that had taken off in 1995 following the rape of a 12-year old girl by American soldiers. This was a critical moment for the U.S., as this crime was so heinous and inexcusable that Washington felt the continued American military presence in Okinawa could well be in peril. President Clinton even had to openly apologize. The U.S., however, did not give in. It acted much like a sumo wrestler using the tactic of utchari, where he is pushed to the edge of the ring, but then turns around and uses his adversary’s momentum to push his opponent out of the ring. To placate Okinawan opinion, in other words, the United States ostensibly agreed to alleviate the U.S. base burden on the Okinawa people, and set up a Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) together with the Japanese government to discuss the matter. The SACO came out with a plan to close or consolidate some facilities, and also agreed to close the decrepit and obviously untenable Futenma marine airfield located in the midst of densely populated city of Gunowan, but on one condition: that a brand new, advanced base be constructed in the Henoko area of Nago city in exchange.
The Okinawan people refused to accept such a plan, and have continued resisting and preventing this project from materializing until the present day. Simultaneously, the U.S. and Japanese governments worked out a wartime resource mobilization plan in 2005 called the New Joint Defense Guidelines, providing for mobilization not only of the Self-Defense Forces, but also all kinds of Japanese material and social resources to back U.S. military action if a “situation” were to arise in “areas surrounding Japan.”
With this as the breakthrough, one major step after another has been taken to impel Japan to step up its commitment to U.S. global strategy. Within this development, Japan began to directly commit itself to the U.S. post-Cold War global strategy, sending an SDF fleet and troops to the Indian Ocean and Iraq, respectively, during the post-9/11 Bush War on Terror. At this time, the U.S. placed the Japanese military forces practically entirely under U.S. command through a new accord in 2005, which was called the “U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future.”
As this sketchy portrayal may show, the United States has been pursuing a consistent Japan policy whereby it jealously guards against any sign of Japan distancing itself from the U.S. line, and overreacts if it thinks it has noticed any such signals on the Japanese side. In this light, the U.S. was upset by the Democratic Party of Japan’s 2009 election promises advocating an “equal Japan-U.S. relationship through amendment of the Status of Force Agreement.” After the party assumed power in a landslide victory, Prime Minister Hatoyama’s effort to move the Futenma airbase outside Okinawa—or even outside Japan itself—fell into Washington’s disfavor. Certainly, the Ozawa- and Hatoyama-proposed formation of an East Asian Community must have been a significant source of consternation to the U.S. leadership as another case of deviation from the U.S. orbit. The Hatoyama-Ozawa program was thus met with by far the strongest backlash to date (and was amplified by the U.S. military’s “Tomodachi” rescue operation at the height of the tsunami and nuclear crisis). I am not a Hatoyama or an Ozawa adherent; nor do I subscribe to the conspiracy theory of history. I can hardly believe, however, that a force operating behind-the-scenes from across the Pacific did not have a finger in their ousting.
The level of loyalty that the United States requires Japan to display under the Japan-U.S. alliance is exorbitantly high. This state of affairs also owes to the embrace of America by a large bulk of the Japanese ruling elite, encompassing conservative politicians, ranking officials of the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and other government agencies, as well as leaders of big business, banks, and—last but not least—the mainstream media. Since the time of the occupation, the United States has maintained organic ties with the ruling quarters of the Japanese state, thereby securing Japan’s loyalty not only through pressure from outside, but also working from within by using existing built-in channels. America knows, from its occupation-time experience, that with the exception of economic matters involving big business interests, it can raise the level of Japan’s loyalty almost limitlessly simply by demonstrating gestures of intimidation. A few “Japan hands” or medium-ranking State Department officials need only utter, for example, “Show the flag!” or “Boots on the ground!” in order for the desired results to appear. A deep-seated fear exists on the Japanese part that America might act this harshly should its wrath be incurred. so any act that might cause American suspicion is itself considered a political vice deserving accusation. Once such an action is committed, this theory goes, the only remedy lies in atonement through offering even more in loyalty than may be asked for. (Strangely, most of the Japanese chauvinist rightists are of this bent, perhaps owing to their anti-communist and Asia-disdaining postwar origin. For many years, some of them waved the star-spangled banner together with the rising sun flag in the street.) Let me repeat: the postwar Japanese state has regarded the United States not entirely as an outside to maintain diplomatic relations with, but has in fact embraced the U.S. as its built-in component.
In the past, Japan had a different political landscape. For decades, a viable opposition existed known as the “progressive camp,” which was composed of forces that took sides with socialism, upheld the principles of constitutional peace and democracy, and took a critical position toward U.S. Cold War policies. This served as a potent countervailing power to the “conservative camp,” which was pro-American and pro-big business, advocated changing the constitution to drop the peace clause, and favored curtailing democratic rights. After the disintegration of the camp of “actually existing socialism” in the last decade of the 20th century, however, this “progressive camp” ceased to exist as a viable force. At this time, the once clearly drawn line of political confrontation faded away on matters relevant to the country’s future direction. Replacing the “progressive camp” as the major opposition was the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), a motley party assembled for the sole purpose of taking the place of the LDP as the ruling power, which it did after winning a landslide victory in the 2009 general elections. This party had no shared political philosophy or principles. If it temporarily appeared to be slightly left of the center in order to differentiate itself from the LDP, the DPJ is on the whole a conservative party with an intraparty majority that is pro-U.S and anti-pacifist constitution. That said, however, the conservative mainstream groups have yet to succeed in revising the Constitution, and accordingly, have yet to free themselves completely from the constraint of the pacifist Article 9. Given this, in their drive to see Japan become fully incorporated within U.S. strategy, they have had to take a detour. In other words, they have made as many holes as possible in the wall of constitutional constraint instead of prioritizing its outright demolition.
While certain political currents do exist within the ruling groups in favor of Japan distancing itself from the United States, this has not caused an open split of the ruling groups into pro- and anti-U.S. camps. The ruling groups as a whole have built up and continue to securely guard a semi-private regime of their shared rightwing ideological and political consensus that is premised upon the eternity of U.S. dominance.
The continuation of this pro-U.S. consensus regime explains why the United States is so comfortably convinced that no matter how high it may raise its bar of demanded loyalty, Japan would never dare try to jump over it. The peculiarity here is that the Japanese potential for nuclear armament, existing in the form of the nuclear power industry, is a core element integrated organically within this pro-American consensus regime. The Japanese-brand nuclear bomb, so to speak, is a fully dressed understudy that has been told to wait in the wings, with little prospect of actually being called onto the stage.
What if, however, this understudy decided to burst out onto the center of the stage? Why not a nuclear-armed Japan instead of no-longer potentially nuclear Japan? In this event, the accumulated potential for nuclear armament in the form of technical and other know-how would become a reality. In theory, the option certainly exists for Japan to abrogate its security alliance with the United States, to seek independence from the United States in earnest, to withdraw from the NPT, to nuclear arm, and to become a lone nuclear-armed wolf. If politicians determined to carry out this kind of program grab power, we would see Japan’s nuclear power facilities and technology mobilized for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, with its space development programs and electronics technology converted to military application. Remember that Japan has already accumulated a large amount of plutonium for which it has no use (Suzuki 2006). Remember also that there is a political climate in this country that is extremely lenient toard right-leaning extremists in high official positions, such as Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who opined matter-of-factly:
Of course, Japan must have nuclear weapons. Otherwise, we will never be treated as equals…For Japan to live on, we must have a military government, or else we are just going to become some other country’s dependent. I recommend introduction of a conscription system. (Ishihara, June 20, 2010, speech at Parliamentary Museum, ANN news of same day).
Such a move, however, would obviously invite Japan’s complete isolation from the rest of the world including the U.S.A. Nothing would be gained from this strategy, which would lead us down the road toward self-destruction. We must also remember, however, that in the not-so-distant past, Japan did indeed choose such a path of isolation and devastation.
There is, however, another possible scenario whereby this same actor would be called onto the center of the stage to perform. This story line would be that of Japan’s going nuclear with the approval, or even under the blessing, of the United States. Certain rightist politicians in the United States began to call for a nuclear-armed Japan following the surfacing of the North Korean nuclearization issue. In February 2003, the Chunichi Shimbun’s Washington correspondent flashed this piece of news:
As the North Korean nuclear problem grows more serious, calls are becoming stronger in the U.S. for Japan to turn toward nuclear armament. During a national news program broadcast on February 16th, John McCain referred to the possibility of Japan arming itself with nuclear weapons depending on the development of North Korea’s nuclear arming” (Chunichi Shimbun, Feb. 16, 2003).
The report continued:
Interviewed by Fox Television, McCain said he told China that the Chinese must understand that unless they become more actively engaged with North Korea and bring about a very quick resolution to this crisis, the Japanese will have no choice but to nuclear arm themselves.
Note that these are not the words of a fringe politician, but the same John McCain who contested the 2008 presidential election as Obama’s rival. Here he admitted that he had flashed the card of Japan’s nuclear armament toward China (again in the name of the United States), but more importantly, he disclosed the U.S. assumption that it is in a position to go over Japan’s head to decide whether Japan should go nuclear or not. This endorses the scenario of Japan’s nuclear armament under the blessing of the United States.
On the Japanese side, the views of Ikutaro Shimizu are worth examining in this context. During the 1960 anti-Anpo treaty struggle, Shimizu was one of the most influential left intellectuals who inspired masses of people with his appeals for action.
After the struggle ended in the movement’s defeat, he jumped from one end of the political spectrum to the other, emerging as a rightist ideologist of a new breed. He wrote a book in 1980 titled “The Nuclear Option: Japan, Be a State!”, wherein he proposed a “plan for the transformation of the self-defense forces inaugurated as the American army’s reserve force during the Korean War into a full-dress Japanese national military force.” The key to this plan, he declared, was nuclear armament.
With regard to the question of how Japan would go about nuclearizing, Shimizu explained that Japan’s nuclear armament could take any of the following forms: (1) Japan would acquire its own independent nuclear forces (e.g., France and China); (2) Japan would possess only nuclear delivery vehicles, with warheads to be supplied by the United States when needed (e.g., West Germany); (3) Japan would introduce new U.S. army units equipped with nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles (with Japan footing the bill); or (4) Japan would openly accept the introduction of nuclear weapons into its territory by U.S. naval and air force troops stationed in Japan. According to Shimizu, Japan could select “any of the above scenarios” to go nuclear—thereby becoming what he terms “an adult state.” In any case, he adds, “the three non-nuclear principles would have to be revised.” (Shimizu 1990, pg. 147-8).
I could not believe my eyes when I found Shimizu discussing these four scenarios on par with one another as scenarios of Japan’s nuclear armament. The first scenario certainly does bring Japan into the ranks of nuclear power. But do the three other options have anything to do with Shimizu’s goal of bringing Japan into the status of full-fledged “statehood”? Would any of the three turn the JSDF into a genuine national military force? Can Japan become “a state” merely by being allowed a hold on America’s nuclear weapons?
Let me consider the scenario again. We have already seen how the United States would react over-sensitively to any sign of Japan’s deviation from the American-drawn line of control. Imagine, then, how thrillingly high would be the level of loyalty demanded by the U.S. if Japan were to begin manufacturing its own nukes, with its own equipment and technology, and assigning them to its troops. There can be no doubt that the U.S. would come out in full force to place the Japanese nuclear force completely under its control. That would be the only condition under which the U.S. would tolerate Japan’s nuclear armament. There is again no question that such complete control would be practicable only when the United State directly controls the decision-making processes of the Japanese central government. Who can imagine that the United States would treat Japan as an equal ally with the power of projection of its own nuclear force? Haven’t we learned enough from the sixty-plus years of postwar experience that Japan is not an “England in Asia”? No matter how many joint declarations about shared values are made, the United States will never entrust Japan with independent handling of nuclear weapons. The only way that the U.S. would ever consent to Japan’s nuclear armament, in fact, would be if—and only if—the U.S. were to establish full control over Japan not only militarily, but also politically. This is what U.S.-blessed nuclearization would mean.
The above reasoning has been borne out by our postwar experience. In fresh recent memory, Shinzo Abe, the “prince” of the rightist camp who rose to prime ministry in 2006, is a case in point. As Prime Minister, he took on the challenge of his major task to change the Constitution in line with his historical revisionist concept glorifying the prewar empire, and went into head-on confrontation with North Korea. In doing so, however, he ended up driving himself even further in subjecting Japan to the convenience of the United States. Advocating the right of collective defense, Abe pounced on the idea of a missile defense system that was allegedly for intercepting North Korean or Chinese missiles to defend Japan. It was obvious from the beginning, however, that this system was aimed at shooting down missiles destined for the U.S. before they could reach their target. It had nothing to do with the protection of people in Japan. Clearly, this sounded a warning about what would await Japan if it impulsively dashed toward nuclear armament.
Change Course!: Dismantling the “nuclear core” and the military alliance
With the Fukushima debacle, the nuclear power industry as a whole went aground. The nuclear power-generating industry and the nuclear industry as the core of national security are one identical entity. The time has come to demolish this body completely with respect to both of its statuses. The ongoing process of denuclearization should be carried out until its conclusion, and must not be restricted to the mere dismantling of the “nuclear village” as an interest group. We must also note that we are witnessing the process of postwar Japan’s “national security” system crumbling, together with the arrangements built around the nuclear industry as the custodian of nuclear armament potential. This system and its arrangement have now proved unsustainable.
Far-right ideologues aside, most politicians are generally tight-lipped when it comes to nuclear power as a major “national security” element. LDP Policy Board chief Shigeru Ishiba spoke up regarding this matter on television, however, as perhaps the first mainstream politician to openly advocate the protection of nuclear power from this perspective during the post-3.11 period (Hodo Station program of TV Asahi on August 16, 2011). The full transcript of his TV statement is as follows:
Insofar as nuclear power generation began with nuclear submarines, nuclear power policies in all countries are in fact also connected to the policies of nuclear weapons, except in Japan. While I in fact do not believe that Japan should go nuclear, the reality is that Japan can manufacture such weapons at any time once it decides to do so. This could in fact be achieved within a year’s time, which is indeed a deterrent. A thorough debate is necessary, therefore, over whether we should completely give up this capability. Personally speaking, I do not believe we should relinquish this capacity. The reason I say this is because the nearby countries of Russia, China, North Korea, and the United States—regardless of whether they are our allies or not—are all nuclear armed countries, all of them possessing ballistic missile technologies. We should not forget this fact.
After the Fukushima catastrophe, Ishiba’s characteristic beseeching, persuading tone sounds akin to a hollow excuse by a sore loser. In what kind of situation does he suppose that the Japanese potential nuclear capability would work as deterrent power, and against whom? We have already learned that this does not work through our experience over the past 40 years since the Sato era. I suspect that nuclear power in the security context is now useful only as a talisman for Ishiba-style military fetishists. It would be an outrageous exhortation to risk destruction of society and nature along this archipelago, and within neighbors’ lands—no, of the whole world—to preserve the nuclear plants solely in order to satisfy this type of military addict.
Even without the Fukushima debacle, Japan’s national security system was already plagued by worsening internal contradictions. Bound by the postwar national security system, the Japanese state has been characterized by the following habitual attitudes and conducts: (1) dependence upon the U.S. nuclear umbrella for protection, while constantly feeling uneasy reminded that the “umbrella” exists exclusively to protect the U.S. interests; (2) formulation and implementation of diplomacy in a direction and manner that will meet U.S. interests, due to being impelled by this sense of unease, this attitude prejudicing Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors; (3) sustenance of the continued virtual U.S. military colonial rule over Okinawa by turning it into a Japanese domestic colony, thereby integrating itself more deeply with U.S. global and Asian strategies; (4) adherence to the acquisition and maintenance of nuclear arming capability driven by an impulse toward strong power status underpinned by the imperial Japan glorifying principle—thus raising suspicions on the part of neighboring countries, while giving the U.S. grounds for its “cork-in-the-bottle” theory that in turn facilitated stepped-up U.S. demands for Japan’s obedience; (5) refusal to recognize the uselessness of the “potential nuclear arming” practice as any kind of diplomatic deterrent; and (6) rendering the Japanese archipelago extremely vulnerable to external attacks by lining its coastlines with nuclear power facilities.
It is necessary, first and foremost, to acknowledge the fact that the “nuclear power as potential nuclear armament” scenario went bankrupt with the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. As a result, the entire system that has incorporated this scenario must be abandoned altogether.
The forces promoting nuclear power will certainly not give up easily. If they feel cornered, they may make some compromise, such as the use of alternative energies or a freeze on the construction of new nuclear power facilities. Even at odds, however, they will try to defend the core of their nuclear weapons capability to the death. They are already threatening the public with short electricity supply and the resultant paralysis of the economy if nuclear plants are stopped. They are also maneuvering to shift the national political focus away from the topic of de-nuclearization, while simultaneously trying to minimize the Fukushima disaster as though it were a mere local problem involving only a limited number of people within a restricted environment. In their performance to assure people’s “peace of mind” (and surely not their “safety”), the responsible government officials speak of “decontamination” processes that are allegedly progressing within the contaminated areas, as well as government ordered “stress tests” of the reactors to show off their concern with the safety of the existing reactors. In fact, they are eager to resume operation of reactors and watching a chance to do so. As for mainstream media, most prefer to avoid confrontation with the government on this matter. Meanwhile, the “nuclear power village” as a whole is dead set on minimizing the losses that it is bound to suffer from this debacle. The most political wing of the “village” will devote itself to the preservation of the nuclear industry as the core of “national security,” while continuing to avoid Ishiba-style candid pronouncements. Japanese pro-nuclear forces, meanwhile, in an effort to legitimize their adherence to nuclear power, will promote their activities as joint operations with the United States and international pro-nuclear agencies.
And the Democratic Party of Japan? Where does it stand? As I have pointed out on several occasions, when the party came to power in 2009, it inherited the ruins of the postwar Japanese state that were left by the half-century reign of its predecessor, the LDP. The DPJ, on its part, had no shared political principles, visions, or policy packages when it came to power. This is because the party had been assembled for the sole purpose of changing the LDP government, thereby comprising in its ranks a full spectrum of political tendencies and creeds. The party thus lacked the ability to remove the wreckage and build a new house in its place. Inside the party are strong, convinced pro-nuke forces, as well as not a few anti-nuke individuals. Unless the latter stand up as an open, articulate advocacy caucus, it is possible that the DPJ as a whole will fall into the embrace of the nuclear village.
Is the situation so friendly to the pro-nuke forces, however? Are the archipelago residents so naïve as to believe the wartime military government-type announcements that everything is under control?
In this situation, the only way out is for the grassroots archipelago residents themselves to form a shared collective will as stakeholders and take action in order to take down and completely eliminate the pro-nuclear forces and overcome the lingering social pro-nuke inertia. While “de-nuclearization” is presently a broadly shared slogan, it should mean the systematic and rigorous implementation of a series of concrete measures: immediate halt of all nuclear power plant operations; bringing the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi plant completely under control; making sure that all currently idled plants remain stopped; decommissioning of all nuclear reactors as safely as possible; scrapping of the fuel cycle program and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing; and nullifying all nuclear power plant export plans and contracts.
That is not all. The makers, enforcers, and promoters of nuclear power policy in political, business, media, academic and other relevant fields that invited the present disaster—as well as their respective organizations—should be held responsible for the consequence, and properly taken to task in legal, moral and political terms.
At the same time, this process should be one of completely dismantling Japan’s “technical and industrial nuclear potential” for nuclear armament, thereby declaring to the rest of the world that Japan will remain nuclear disarmed forever. Since the nuclear power industry (as we saw earlier) lies within the core of the multi-dimensional state structure whose organic components include the dual colonial status of Okinawa and the U.S.-Japan security alliance, the, dismantling of the nuclear industry not only involves changes in Japan’s energy and environmental policies, but also calls for dramatic reshuffling and reorganization of Japan’s external and internal relations. This, in turn, offers Japan opportunities for making radical new choices.
Parallel to the bankruptcy of the nuclear regime, the additional arrangement of strategic concealment that I mentioned earlier—wherein the destructive face of the Anpo system is hidden from mainland people by moving a large bulk of U.S. military bases to Okinawa—has broken down as well. Okinawan resistance against the bases is now increasingly directed against Japan’s internal colonial rule, and it too has thrust back the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty relations into the central political arena of Tokyo. Herein, the hidden intertwined relationships binding Anpo, Okinawa, and nuclear power will emerge from underground into the broad daylight for everyone to see.
This presently unfurling situation demands of us a new perspective regarding what our new archipelago society should be. An indispensible step within any new vision for the future will be for us to secure independence from the United States by negotiation based on a set of principles. To do so, the false and bankrupt choice between the U.S. nuclear umbrella and independence through Japan’s own nuclear armament should be discarded once and for all.
In this negotiation with the United States, the central agenda item should be the dismantling of all U.S. military bases and withdrawal of all military troops from Okinawa. Negotiation on Okinawa must also begin with deciding on a new seating pattern, whereby instead of the U.S. and Japan sitting on one side of the table across from Okinawa—with the former dictating terms rather than negotiating—the Japanese and U.S. governments should instead face each other from the opposite sides of the table. The essential point here is that Okinawa must participate in forthcoming negotiations with veto power from the beginning.
Since this negotiation is of a strategic nature, similar in character to the Meiji-era negotiation for the revision of unequal treaties with the West, we cannot expect a smooth and prompt settlement. What must be renegotiated is the 60-some year-old relations that originated in the Occupation and were sustained throughout the postwar period. These have by now become unsustainable, and the time to change has already arrived.
Crucial to the success of these negotiations will be a principled stance, as well as political wisdom and tenacity on the part of our negotiators. Even more importantly, however, will be solid support from the people of this archipelago. The conversion of the Japan-U.S. military security treaty into a Japan-U.S. Peace and Friendship Treaty based on demilitarization, as proposed by many peace movement groups, will be accomplished through such negotiations.
At present, however, what is being pursued by the powers-that-be is a completely bankrupt scheme. At a time when the U.S. has reached the brink of default and is forced to carry out massive expenditure cuts affecting the military budget, with 14.3 trillion dollars of debt, the country will likely not think twice about escalating its demands for Japan’s greater contributions and loyalty toward its global strategy of hegemony—particularly with regard to China.
Using the post-3.11 turmoil as the smokescreen, the DPJ government has rapidly escalated its commitment to the new U.S. strategic buildup, implementing a new adventurous military concept known as “dynamic defense forces” in place of the long held “basic defense force” concept. Japan is thus openly taking sides with the U.S. in the U.S.-China regional hegemonic struggle over the control of the East and South China seas, ostensibly to protect claimed Southwest territories including the disputed islands known as the Senkaku. While totally ignoring Okinawa’s cries for self-determination, the Tokyo government even speculates that the southernmost islands of the Ryukyus will be conveniently used as new military outposts by U.S. and Japanese military forces. If the Tokyo government dashes ahead along this path, what awaits down the road is only the thorny bush of dangerously heightened political and military tensions.
I posit, however, that the new alternative perspective that is now opening up in front of us is one of denuclearization and demilitarization. This means our effort to demilitarize international, inter-Asia, national, and local relationships in Asia. Toward that goal, on the basis of grassroots non-violent, anti-war solidarity, we undertake to demilitarize the Japan-U.S relationship, to which complete withdrawal of U.S. bases from Okinawa is the key, as well as to denuclearize Northeast Asia and create a multilateral peace arrangement of the sub-region.
In order for this vision to be realized, Japan must clearly state its intention not to commit itself to either of the regional hegemonic strategies of the United States or China, while also finding a new approach to solving the territorial and other disputed issues without resorting to the threat of arms.
It is only when we break free from our dual nuclear dependence and begin working for denuclearization and demilitarization, without commitment to either party currently engaged within hegemonic power struggles, that we will finally be able to clear the ground of debris from the collapsed state.
1. Mike Masaru Masaoka was a second-generation Japanese American (Nisei) who was a leader of the Japanese American Citizens League. He served as a liaison between Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II and the U.S. government; he called for the formation of Japanese American army units, and when this idea was accepted, he himself volunteered for the 442nd Regiment and engaged in combats in France and Italy. Following the war’s end, he became a lobbyist for Japanese Americans.
2. I learned from Toshiyuki Tanaka’s essay in the Sekai journal that in the United States there emerged a particular twisted logic commending peaceful use of nuclear energy, differentiated from the strategic logic I introduced, that may correspond, asymmetrically, to the “precisely because” logic on the Japanese side. Manhattan project scientist Paul Porter visited Hiroshima in 1954 and after the tour of the city, he met with Hiroshima Mayor Hamai. Porter told the mayor that Hiroshima, because it had been atom-bombed, had the preferential right to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear power, telling also that the United States was being readied to accept his kind of opinion. In the same year, Thomas Murray from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission advocated the construction of nuclear power plants in Japan at the United Steelworkers Union convention. As the reason why, he stated: “Now, while the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains so vivid, construction of such a power plant in a country like Japan would be a dramatic and Christian gesture which could lift all of us far above the recollection of the carnage of those cities.” Just as the Japanese “precisely because” logic was an inverted reflection of the victimization experience, the U.S. stance was an inverted reflection of the sense of guilt as the victimizer. That is, by inverting the sense of victimizer into the sense of benefactor, the victimizer can forget, bury, and justify the carnage, thereby closing the channel through which the meaning of the act could have been called into question. The official U.S. position that the nuclear bombings saved a million lives also is guilt-inverting and inquiry-blocking mechanism.
3. Walter Robertson was assistant secretary of state when he met in 1953 with Hayato Ikeda,(then Policy Research Council Chairman from the Liberal Party) appointed a special envoy of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. They made arrangement on U.S. support for Japan’s remilitarization. As a result of this meeting, the Mutual Security Assistance (MSA) Agreement was signed between the two countries the following year. It was also agreed upon during this meeting that the remilitarization of Japan would require first and foremost the “promotion of a social atmosphere that would encourage Japan’s citizens to feel an increased responsibility toward the matter of defense,” wherein “the Japanese government would take the responsibility for prioritizing education and publicity aimed at nurturing proactive feelings amongst the populace of patriotism and self-defense.” The full history of postwar Japan’s remilitarization and government intervention in educational content began with this.
4. Gensuikyo took up the issue of nuclear armament as one of the core issues for its third World Conference held in 1958. The Japanese national conference declaration that year was titled “Declaration for Prohibition of Nuclear Armament (of Japan).” This declaration saying at its outset, “Japan is now turning from an atom bomb-victim country to a nuclear assailant country,” went on to state: “The moves to bring nuclear weapons to Okinawa and the Japanese mainland, to provide the JSDF with nuclear weapons, and to build atomic and hydrogen bomb bases are linked with the plan to organizer a military alliance of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, which is designed as a key link in the chain of global nuclear armament policy that involves nuclear armament of West Germany.” The declaration however did not take into consideration the possible link between Japanese nuclear arming and the introduction of nuclear reactors already under way. “Japan’s nuclear arming” here mentioned did not refer to production of nuclear weapons using Japanese nuclear reactors. “Nuclear armament” in this context referred primarily to nuclear arming of U.S. bases in Okinawa, U.S. introduction of nuclear weapons into the Japanese territory, and the equipping of the JSDF with U.S. nuclear or nuclear-capable missiles. The Japanese movement at that time had in mind as the global nuclear armament model the West German model advocated by Chancellor Adenauer in 1957. The Bundestag adopted a resolution for West Germany’s nuclear armament as an component of the NATO forces in 1958. This move prompted a group of well-known scientists, including Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker, to issue “Göttingen Manifesto” and gave rise to “Kampf dem Atomtod,” a large scale movement against “atomic death.”
▼森滝市郎『核絶対否定への歩み』渓水社、1994 (Ichiro Moritaki, “Steps toward absolute negation of the nuclear,” Keisuisha, 1994)
▼藤原修『原水爆禁止運動の成立――日本平和運動の原像 1954-1955』、明治学院国際平和研究所、1991 (Osamu Fujiwara, “The birth of the movement against A&H bombs – the movement at its origin: 1954-55,” International Peace Research Institute, Meiji Gakuin University, 1991)
▼丸浜江里子『原水禁署名運動の誕生――東京・杉並の住民パワーと水脈』凱風社、2011 (Eriko Maruhama, “The birth of the signature campaign against A&H bombs – the power of the Tokyo’s Suginami ward residents and its origins,” Gaifusha, 2011
▼今堀誠二『原水爆時代』（上）（下）三一新書、1959、1960 (Seiji Imahori, “The age of atomic and hydrogen bombs,” vol. 1 and 2, Sanichi Shinsho, 1959 and 1960)
▼加納美紀代「ヒロシマとフクシマの間」『インパクション』180号、2011 (Mikio Kano, “Between Hiroshima and Fukushima,” Impaction, No.180, 2011)
▼田中利幸 「〈原子力平和利用〉と広島――宣伝工作のターゲットにされた被爆者たち」『世界』2011年8月号 (Toshiyuki Tanaka, “Peaceful use of atomic energy and Hiroshima – atom bomb victims picked as the target of propaganda operation,” Sekai, August, 2011)
▼繁沢敦子『原爆と検閲――アメリカ人記者たちが見た広島・長崎』、中公新書、2010 (Atsuko Shigesawa, “Atomic bombs and inspection – Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the eyes of American reporters,” Chuko Shinsho, 2010)
▼高橋博子「公文書で判明した米核戦略の深層」『週刊朝日』2011/9/2号 (Hiroko Takahashi, “A deep layer of the U.S. nuclear strategy as uncovered by archives,” Shukan Asahi, September 2 issue, 2011
▼中曽根康弘『政治と人生――中曽根康弘回顧録』講談社、1992 (Yasuhiro Nakasone, “Politics and life – Yasuhiro Nakasone’s memoir,” Kodansha, 1992)
▼鈴木真奈美『核大国化する日本――平和利用と核武装論』、平凡社新書、2006 (Manami Suzuki, “Japan becoming a big nuclear power – peaceful use and nuclear armament discourse,” Heibonsha Shinso, 2006)
▼有馬哲夫『原発・正力・CIA――機密文書で読む昭和裏面史』、新潮新書、2008 (Tetsuo Arima, “Nuclear power generation, Shoriki, and CIA – a hidden history of the Showa era culled from classified documents,” Shincho Shinsho, 2008
▼吉岡斉『原発と日本の未来――原子力は温暖化対策の切り札か』、岩波ブックレット、2011 (Hitoshi Yoshioka, “Nuclear power industry and the future of Japan – Is nuclear power the trump card of counter-global warming strategy?”, Iwanami booklet, 2011)
▼吉岡斉『原子力の社会史――その日本的展開』、朝日選書、1999 (Hitoshi Yoshioka, “Social history of nuclear power – the Japanese way of its development,” Asahi Sensho, 1999)
▼槌田敦、藤田祐幸他『隠して核武装する日本』影書房、2007 (Yuko Fujita et. al ed., “Japan stealthily nuclear arming,” Kage Shobo, 2007)
▼武谷三男編『原子力発電』岩波新書、1976 (Mitsuo Takeani, “Nuclear power generation,” Iwanami Shinsho, 1976)
▼毛里和子、増田弘監訳『周恩来キッシンジャー 機密会談録』、岩波書店、2006 (Kazuko Mori, Hiroshi Masuda ed., “Record of secret talks between Chou Enlai and Kissinger,” Iwanami Shoten, 2006)
▼日本平和委員会編『平和運動２０年資料集』、大月書店、1959 (Japan Peace Committee ed., “Documents of 20 years of peace movement,” Otsuki Shogen, 1959)
▼池山重朗『原爆・原発』、現代の理論社、1978 (Juro Ikeyama, “Nuclear bombs, nuclear power,” Genndai no Rironsha, 1978)
▼新崎盛暉『沖縄現代史 新版』、岩波新書、2005 (Moriteru Arasaki, “Modern history of Okinawa – new edition,” Iwanami Shoten, 2005)
▼高木仁三郎『原発事故はなぜくりかえすのか』、岩波新書、2000 (Jinzaburo Takagi, “Why do nuclear plant accidents occur repeatedly?”, Iwanami Shinsho, 2000)
▼高木仁三郎『原子力神話からの解放――日本を滅ぼす九つの呪縛』、講談社、2011(Jinzaburo Takagi, “Be free from the nuclear power myths – Japan under nine dooming spells,” Kodansha, 2011)
▼原子力資料情報室編『原子力市民年鑑』、七つ森書館、2010 (Citizens’ nuclear power almanac,” Nanatsumori Shokan, 2010)
This author thanks Toshiyuki Tanaka, Tetsuo Arima, and Atsuko Shigesawa for their help in locating the original English texts of the quoted passages.
Translation: Kimberly Hughes
Final Revision: Ichiyo Muto